Virage Design History

Hi Randy!  Great to see this new addition to the I.H.R.  I have a model question for you, rather than a set-up question.  Mark thought my question to him would make a great question to you!!

I had a 1989 Virage last year that I sold to Ron Pratt (Alaska 'Streamin). His article is on the I.H.R. on his trip to the lower 48 and the adventure towing/transporting my/his boat all the way to Sitka Alaska.  My '89 had the step in the outer sponsons.  I know that in '89 there was also a non-stepped Virage model.  I believe my/Ron's hull was called the 'Turbo'.  My question is this:  What bottoms were available for 1989 thru 1991?  What were the models called, and what is the difference between the 'Stage' bottoms? Was my '89 a stage one or two?  What makes a stage 3?  Was there a stage 2? Was a stage 4 in the works when Pipkorn closed down?  I'd love to see a detailed description of the Virage models.

I live in Michigan, and a guy on the other side of the state has purchased Virage bottom molds out of Minnesota and brought them back here.  I sure wish the 'factory' would decide to bring the Virage model back.  The timing is right, with all the tunnel bottoms that are so popular now in the 'offshore' sized boats.

Thanks a bunch!
Jim Wheaton

P.S. My Virage originally came from Avon Minnesota, probably from a dealer you were familiar with in 1989! It still had the dealer sticker on it when I bought it last spring.


Hi Jim,

I'll give you what I know on the Virage. The Virage was built on the ZT hull. This was the Hooker bass boat hull that preceded the Virage. I sold a fair amount of the bass hulls and was trying to help Howard with the development. The original ZT's (stage 1) had no steps in the sponsons. They couldn't carry weight very well, and they rode wet at low speed. I wanted to sell more, so I worked with Howard to free the boat up. The second version (stage 2) had a simple 12" notch put in the rear of the sponson. It worked better. Before you needed a 14" set back to get a stage 1 to fly the bow. Now we used a 7 or 8 inch jack. But the boat still galloped at low speeds and rode kind of wet. All this time the Virage was taking shape. An all red and an all yellow stage one had been built for the brochure and then sold. I still wanted a looser running boat. So with Howard we can up with the stage 3 or "turbo" bottom. All of these bottom mods were done with clay inserted in the stage 1 mold. They did make a more permanent insert later. The turbo was good as a bass hull and the Virage. Just before the closing the Stage 4 was taking place. The multiple running surfaces were pulled forward another 18 inches with a few more tricks. The whole object of all this was to make the boat run free and act like a v-bottom that trapped air.

There were also 3 HST's built with a short sponson. One I crashed in Mod VP and it is in the dumpster. One more was the black one shipped to Muscle Boats but it was placed on the truck with the bow facing up and the driver went under a low bridge on the way there. You can guess what happened (it was shorter!). The last one is owned by Jon Graff of Brainerd, MN. It was the only HST special with a production interior. Again the object was less set back, faster boat.

In closing I hope this explains some of the different models of streams. It also might explain why I come across as not being a big fan of set back plates. I have always felt, why buy a lightweight boat and put a ton of metal back on it. Why not just do it right the first time. Roark Summerford did it with the STV pro comp. The balance and performance is always better on that boat when you bolt it right on the transom. We had Howard thinking that way too and I think great boats could have come if they had not closed down.


P.S. If it is white with blue/red orange and yellow stripes, it's probably my old one!



Please submit whatever questions you have to  All questions and answers selected will be displayed on this page as they come in.  Note: though all boaters are welcome, priority may be given to I.H.R. members.  Randy can not be held responsible for any advice given.  Though his information and expertise is second to none, he has no control over what you do with your boat.  It is up to you to boat safely and act responsibly, and his advice is only to be used as a guidance for your high performance boat/motor of which you are the one responsible for the risks involved.

Mark C.


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