The V-bottom Evolution                            4/9/2004


We’re thawing here in Minnesota, which gives us Streamers an unusual excitement. We’ve seen geese and robins and some of the shoreline is liquid. I have to say, I went to see if I could launch my newly acquired V-king on Sunday, but there was a little too much ice. Howard said we should go out and BUST ice with the hull (“your hull, not mine”). You betcha, spring IS coming.

Here’s a little history for you on the Pipkorn V-bottom evolution. Howard started out as a distributor for a small Chicago area boat builder. While delivering a load of these boats to St. Louis, he stopped to visit a team race driver in the metro area. The conversation turned to a new boat that had cleaned up at an offshore regatta in Miami. The guy penciled out the hull design on a brown paper bag while they were talking. He went on to explain that the hull was a plywood single outboard that just stepped on bigger, dual engine and stern drive Cigarette type hulls. The nameplate on this new tunnel hull turned out to be Molinari. It must have been just about this time of the year, because when the ice got soft, Pip was out helping it break up in his version, with one notable exception: the sponsons had pads. This made it possible to carry extra weight necessary when the production models were made of fiberglass. Technically these things were single engine "dihedral catamarans". Thus, the boats (named Panthers), were a real kick to drive with what was then the “monster” Merc 1100.

While these unique looking bottoms were a hit with “gear-heads” like us, it was a tough sell to the general public. One of Pip’s friendly critics said, “why don’t you just build a 'V' bottom?” At the time, splashing a model 163 Glastron was in vogue. That did not appeal to our boy. “If we are going to build a ‘V’, it will have to be the worlds wildest." It will have to be a low drag, high lift flyer that is as much fun to drive as a tunnel.

In his quest for the ultimate V-bottom boat, Howard relied on physics and aerodynamics for the configuration of the Ventura hull. He turned one of his Panther hulls upside down and had its sponsons lopped off with a Sawzall. PIP was fascinated with the fillet, at the intersection of the tunnel walls and tunnel ceiling. If you look at a Stream transom, at the bottom of the motor board, you will see little turndowns on each side about forty inches apart. That was the Panther tunnel top and the beginning of what is now known as the “NOTCH”. His thinking was that if the tunnel concave water ski stopped six inches ahead of the transom, at plane-off water would have a chance to flow up to the prop and once on-plane water would come straight off the trailing edge. This would allow higher transom height settings and less drag. This all happened while power trim and cupped propellers were in their infancy. This little trick has another advantage, in that it effectively increases the distance between the trailing edge of the pad (which is the pivot point in the pitching motion) and the center of pressure of the gear case (which ends up being the calm water “wheel-base” of a flying boat.). Pip has often commented that had he patented that feature, he would still be receiving checks form such notables as Skeeter and even Ranger. Why a tunnel concave water ski you say? … He surmised that the concave shaped pad would trap air, helping to lift the hull. It also gives Streams a distinctive rapid popping sound as it eats up choppy water.

Once he attached the water ski, a 19-degree dead rise plywood bottom was constructed with strakes that narrowed as they approached the transom so the vertical sides would dry out at high speeds. A little sculpting of the forefoot, while slitting and folding the sponson tips to form air shelves--- and voila, we have the Ventura.

Competitors were able to achieve some of the effects of the notch using after-planes in combination with transom setbacks, but the Ventura had both built-in. The Ventura went on to win just about every class it fit into - in fact in one class, FS, if you didn’t have a Ventura, you could not keep up. HydroStreams did lead the V-pad development and leave a lasting impact that we all enjoy today.

We are may be in for a little snow showers tomorrow but I may still turn up a rooster tail behind the V-King anyway. Pad side down!   


   Streamin’ High!

   Jerry Tuott



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