Lost and Found: A Composite Hydrostream Done Right
The connection boaters have with their boats is unique. In 1978, Randy Tidwell and his wife purchased a brand new Hydrostream Vector in Panama City Florida and brought it to their longtime home of Macon Georgia. Randy built a custom trailer for the Hydrostream and equipped it with a 175 Merc Black Max. Randy and his wife got a great 4 years out of the boat and around that time had a son. Unfortunately, the Vector wasn't the best fit for the growing family, so Randy traded it for a car.
Fast forward to 2012 and Randy was out looking at a Jeep that was for sale with his wife and Randy immediately recognized the boat in the driveway as theirs. Instead of buying the Jeep, Randy and his wife took home their boat along with the original trailer he built for it in 1978. As you would expect, the Hydrostream and trailer were not in the condition that Randy and his wife left it. Randy enlisted Mike Tittle to completely restore the boat. Mike used composite materials throughout, making it stronger and potentially lighter than the original build.
Hydrostreams are incredible boats for a several reasons. In 1968, Howard Pipcorn started the company in Minnesota and his designs and forward thinking created one of the most popular performance boat brands with a loyal following to this day. At one time they had several models from the tiny VooDoo (12 and 14 feet) to the Vector and later the Voyager and HST. I believe that they were producing about 1,000 boats a year in the late 70s but the 80s is when the company struggled financially. You can recognize a Hydrostream by the radical narrow bow that curves down, a concave deck and the swoopy form that is low at the transom and curves up at the gunwales, like wings. Most Hydrostreams look more like a design for a fighter jet than a boat.
Pipcorn used lightweight construction and good design to make the boats fly even with small engines. Because most of the Hydrostream hulls use a flat pad and a fairly low deadrise, they can handle quite a bit of power. Hydrostream owners tend to take it to extremes, often you will see Vectors like this one or Vikings with 2.4 or 2.5 built Mercs. The achilles heel might be the varying construction materials back then and the volume Hydrostream was doing. Some boats use a different builds and some had hooks in the hull, but overall, the designs have stood the test of time and they are still some of the fastest boats around. This also makes them great restoration candidates, you are starting with a proven hull and a radical looking boat.
This restoration pulls no punches. Composite materials are the way to go if you can do it. Everything from the core to the transom was replaced. To finish it off, the boat was re-done in red metal flake blended to black in some areas. This makes the classic Stream true to original but is eye catching and timeless. Randy’s Vector looks unbelievable. It was fitted with a built in tank, a 2.5 245 HP Merc, new gauges, jack plate and a brand new custom interior. The trailer was also redone. Randy runs it with a Hoss prop. Once the boat was finished and better than new, Randy and his wife ran it again 35 years after selling it.
At only 17 feet and originally equipped with straight 6 Mercs, Vectors can fly. With this 245 HP 2.5, you should have a pilots license.
Randy is a boat lover and has a few other boats, so the Hydrostream is again for sale. I am sure it is tough for him to sell it but someone will be getting a beautifully done classic. Thanks Randy.
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