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Ron Pratt's stunning '89 Virage





Boat Type: ZT Modified-Vee
Length: 18'
Beam: 90"
Transom Height: 22"
Recommended HP: 150 - 185
Seating: 2 Buckets & Rear Bench; (Cabin Matress on Turbo)
Approximate Weight: 925 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 24 Gallons



Virage Turbo had the following added standard features:

Stage III ZT Hull Design
Formuling Steering Wheel with Anodized Hub
Six-Gauge Pre-wired Dash Layout with Anodized Bezels
Anodized Grab Rail
Custom Pleated Upholstery with Coaming Pads
6'+ under Cabin Berth with Cabin Lighting, Side Pads, Mattress, Locking Forward Storage, Custom Headliner
Marine Stereo System with Weather Cover
Multicolor Turbo Graphics Package





The Virage is a Mod-VP style tunnel built with the ZT hull which is basically a wider version of the YT with the sponson chines being angled out more for added stability.  The sponsons usually have steps for added lift and top speed.  The Virage was manufactured from 1989 through 1991.  The deck design was actually inspired by a car.  Pipkorn saw a concept car in one of the car magazines at the time and it inspired his design of the stylish and futuristic lines of the Virage.

Not many were made (somewhere around 40-60) - buyers at the time were leery of the new design and did not embrace the "non-HydroStream" look.  Unfavorable comments in the Powerboat Magazine Performance Report also did not help:  unfortunately, HydroStream's driver had a Torque-Shift prop on and decided to do some wheelies before the test.  The Powerboat people saw this and put a disclaimer in their report that the Virage was dangerous which is rather ironic since it is the safest HydroStream ever built.  This great new model from HydroStream took a publicity hit and sales suffered as a result.



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 hydrostream16.JPG (56161 bytes)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 it work.

Rough water ability is unbelievable.  Whereas other hulls have to hydrostream20.JPG (59076 bytes)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.

Interior room is not overly spacious, but there is plenty of storagehydrostream18.JPG (71656 bytes) VirageDash1.jpg (77820 bytes) space and the seating arrangement is well done - especially the high back bucket seats.  Gauge layout is similar to the HST - excellent.

High 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 liftHelmut's 115 MPH Virage Turbo (Stage III) 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.  VirageDeck1.jpg (142095 bytes)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.

The 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.  Randy still wanted a looserStage II design is on the left; Stage III on the right.  Picture courtesy of Rich Owen (owner of boat on left). 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.

Virage_StageIII_Solomans.jpg (67949 bytes)
Great picture of a Stage III Virage formerly owned by Mark Soloman


Performance Report: 

89 Virage - Powerboat Magazine


VirageHull1.jpg (103918 bytes) VirageHull2.jpg (105274 bytes) VirageHull3.jpg (161350 bytes) VirageHull4.jpg (148551 bytes) VirageHull5.jpg (169043 bytes) VirageHull6.jpg (144156 bytes)
Pictures of the Virage hull (Stage II design).



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