It's too bad
the Virage has not been brought back because it has a lot going for it
with few drawbacks. It is arguably the most solid Stream
ever built (despite some chopper gun work) with great style lines that are
just as modern looking today as they were 10 years ago. The only
real knock on it is weight. Fully rigged, the Virage weighs in at
1300+ Lbs. Like the HST, this hull has limited drag racing
capabilities and needs a lot of setback (apx. 10") and power to make
water ability is unbelievable. Whereas other hulls have to slow down
for rough water, the Virage just blows through it - slow or fast.
Cornering is also exceptional and it performs well as a ski boat with the
added bonus of a low wake.
room is not overly spacious, but there is plenty of storage
and the seating arrangement is well done - especially the high back bucket
seats. Gauge layout is similar to the HST - excellent.
speed stability is excellent and the hull is easier to drive than its
chinewalking V-bottom and XT cousins. It is a boat that feels much
bigger than its 18' size. Blowouts are usually not severe.
Even trimming too high at full speed will often result in the prop losing
its bite and the boat just laying down still going straight. The
Virage allows and actually requires much higher prop heights (1"
above pad) than other hulls. At speed, the Virage does not lift
its bow up high like other models, but rather still hangs dead straight
when aired out. Even at low speeds, the Virage "sticks" to
the water due to its hull design. Because of this flatter stance,
the Virage really benefits from a hydraulic lift in order for the motor to
receive proper water pressure at both low speeds and at the higher speeds
where the motor is raised up even more. As usual, Pipkorn gave great
thought to the aerodynamics of the deck design, and was once again
successful in creating a deck that offers minimal drag while keeping the
front end down to prevent blowover.
Virage's ZT hull went through a few design changes. HydroStream guru
- and design consultant at the time - Randy Pierson explains the
evolution: The first ones
(stage I) built had the rear of the sponsons similar to the YT design.
There were no steps, they couldn't carry weight very well, and they rode
wet at low speed. So in late 1989 they made changes by putting a step in the hull
(stage II) that were cut about 1 foot
forward from the rear of the sponsons. This helped by allowing the
hull to air out faster and got rid of some of the side to side bouncing
that is typical of the YT hull. Whereas before you needed a 14"
setback to get it to fly the bow, now 7" to 8" worked. The boat still tended to gallop at lower speeds and ride kind of wet.
wanted a looser running boat, so with Howard they came up with the stage
III, or "Turbo", bottom. The factory cut out
more, approximately 2 feet from the rear of the sponsons, and at the rear of the
sponsons it looked more like a fat rudder than a hull. This almost
made it handle like a pad v-bottom with tiny training wheels at high
speed, and a Mod-VP at slower speeds. At high speed the only part of
the sponson that contacts the water is shaped like a knife and cuts
through it eliminating the side to side bounce. All of these bottom
mods were done with clay inserted in the stage 1 mold. In fact, if you
look at some existing hulls, you can often see some roughness in the step
area where they wiped the edge of the clay to try to smooth it. They did make a
more permanent insert later. The Turbo was good as a bass hull (Hooker)
and the Virage. There was actually a
stage IV design with a few more tricks, but only a plug was made shortly before the factory closing. The whole object of all
this was to make the boat run free and act like a v-bottom that trapped
air. Testing on the stage IV design showed that this would have been
the loosest and fastest yet.
Great picture of a Stage III
Virage formerly owned by Mark Soloman