Vector...sleek, fast, temperamental, and dangerous if not respected. The
Vector was designed for the "Tower of Power", Mercury's popular
inline 6 at the time. Many Vector's from the '70's were rigged with 115's,
140's, and 150's. Nowadays, they are often re-rigged with V6 motors:
150's, 175's, 200's, and even 225's and above. To say the Vector is a
handful with this kind of power is an understatement. A Vector with a Merc
200 HP will easily break 90 MPH. It is an accomplished V-pad pilot who can
drive the overpowered Vector at top speeds. Proper setup is a must
for a good handling and safe ride.
comparisons are made between the Vector and the Viking. And why not? To
the casual observer they look the same. Deckside they are very similar
with a slight difference in the gull-wing area. It is underneath where the
differences are really apparent. The overall length of the Vector
being 8" shorter than the Viking is fairly imperceptible, but what is
noticeable is the overall hull configuration. The Vector has a concave
pad, more strakes,
and a sharper deadrise while the Viking has a flatter hull with a
different width pad (with no hook) and a different shaped frontal hull
do they compare performance-wise? People often ask which model is faster.
There are some that may disagree, but I believe that the Vector
is the slightly faster boat, though a Viking can be made to run almost as
fast. However, the Viking is more forgiving, much more stable, and carries the weight of the heavier
V6 better resulting in a better ride with less porpoising. You walk a
fine line when driving a Vector fast...it does not tolerate mistakes. As a
good friend of mine once told me, when running his Vector at 90+ MPH, if
you are standing on the shoreline, don't even sneeze!
question always comes up about whether to remove the "hook" or not on a
Vector to try to improve speed and handling. There are many misperceptions
out there and conflicting information regarding the hook and its intended
purpose. The following information was told
to me directly by Ron Baker Sr. who designed the Vector II (and has been
confirmed to me by Howard Pipkorn). I consider
this the definitive word on the subject.
to 1975, the Vector (and Viper as well) had problems planing, especially
when trying to pull skiers. They were good for racing, but Pipkorn wanted
to make them into better family recreation boats for broader marketing. At
the time, HydroStream factory drivers and racers usually drove the boats
with no windshields on them. Because of the bow angle sensitivity,
driver's had to be judicious with the trim, and its effects on boat trim
angle was easily seen from the shoreline. However, when customers started
running these boats with windshields at increasingly faster speeds,
Pipkorn became very concerned with how high these boats were being hanged.
As a result, he designed in a 5' wedge so that the deck of the boat would
have a lower angle of attack while running. But the wedge that everyone asks about and
seems to be at the center of great controversy, is a second wedge at the
end of the boat. As
an employee of HydroStream, it
was Ron Baker's assignment to change the hulls so the boats would plane
quicker, porpoise less, and turn better, especially with a load. Ron added a 24"
wedge in the trailing edge of the bottom (see pictures below) and dropped the outside corners
of the bottom of the boat from the transom to the outermost edge of the
wing of both models. He widened the strake going forward from the outside
corners of the transom. With the 150 Merc inline 6, just dropping the
outside corners increased the boat's speed 3 MPH in testing. It acted like
ground effects on an airplane. It also helped in corners as the boat
tended to bank a lot in the turns with the old design whereas the dropped
wings helped keep the boat flatter. They called the new models Vector II and
Viper II for a couple of years in-house and with dealers and boat racers.
Some racers wanted the I's, but soon the II was all that was available.
the time of the new design in 1975, the largest engine being used on HydroStreams
was 150 HP. Top speed on the Vector was around 70 MPH (80 MPH on the
Viper). When Ron made the plug with the 24" wedge in the pad and the
adjacent strake, the mold came off the plug with a good reproduction of
the original wedge. However, as it cured the wedge turned into a hook. The
first boats out of the mold were good, but the older the molds got, the
worse the hook became. Making the situation worse was that customers
started using the newer 200 - 260 HP motors trying to go 100 MPH. The hook
did not give the boat enough surface to stabilize itself at these speeds.
At high speed the boat could not find a flat surface to ride on as long as
it needed to when trimmed out. Ron has straightened out a lot of Vector
and Viper bottoms, and said they always handle better and go faster after
he has done it. I
have heard from owners who have successfully performed
this modification, but I have also heard from others who regretted it.
Some have said that the boat becomes unpredictable at higher speeds, some say it becomes
slower, and some say that it porpoised worse (though some of the problems
may have been a result of the work not being done properly, starting with a hull that had additional problems, or not
boat properly). Note that the hull's hook could be a real problem on these
boats due to their age, possible core saturation, and improper trailer
support. So should you remove the hook or not? Of all the questions
regarding HydroStreams, that one is by far the most controversial. There
have been so many varying results that I can not make a flat-out
recommendation. It can be done successfully, but it must be
done properly. If you're seriously considering doing this,
probably the best
thing to do is to contact Ron Baker and review the do's and don'ts and
find out if it is really something you want to do. Just filling in the pad
won't do it. Attention must be paid to the strakes and area next to the
pad as well. Also, once the work is done, keep in mind that the boat's
previous setup may need to be altered.
was the purpose of the concave pad? Some say it was to aid in cornering. I
have also heard that it was an early attempt at air entrapment. The real
reason: a gimmick. Pipkorn wanted everyone to think that it improved the
boat's operation. At first, he had thoughts of the design working like a
slalom ski, but it came to be that it was simply his signature - and one
that would make any competitor's splashing of his hull really stand out.
So in the end, he really just wanted to make the boats different and to
cause comments. It obviously worked since people still comment on it
today. The real truth is, though, that HydroStream found the boat to turn
better when they filled in the concave and made the pad flat. And that is
the way Ron designed the Viking which was a definite improvement.