Back in the 1970s, some friends of mine got a new 25-foot Hydra-Sports. At the time, Hydra-Sports was one of the few production boat companies building a boat utilizing fully hand-laid Kevlar construction. Hydra-Sports has been more at the forefront of integrating composite construction technology and materials than just about any other production builder.
Then in the early '90s, Hydra-Sports introduced an integrated structural-grid stringer system that is bonded to the boat's hull with a methacrylate adhesive. Unlike a system relying on secondary fiberglass bonding to fasten the stringers to the hull, methacrylate provides a proven chemical bond with little preparation. Many companies use this system these days to bond not only the stringers to the hull, but the hull to deck joints as well. By bonding the stringers to the hull, the deck to the stringers and the cap to the hull, you end up with a very strong boat.
Hydra-Sports recently introduced a monster 41-foot center console, the 4100 Vector, which still uses the hand-laid Kevlar material that they marketed so successfully in the early days. A lot of folks believe that Kevlar saves weight, but it doesn't necessarily affect the weight of the boat. However Kevlar does improve strength and puncture resistance, which is why it is also used in bullet-resistant vests for law enforcement and the military.
I got the chance to test the 4100 in the Florida Keys, courtesy of Plantation Boat Mart of Tavernier, sampling the boat's performance with four 300 hp four-stroke Mercury Verado outboards. The 4100 is a massive boat, weighing in at 25,000 pounds rigged, and predictably, it rides exactly like it should for its power and weight. We saw a top-end of nearly 62 mph but seemed to find her sweet spot around 4,000 rpm, making 41 mph.
The weight and brawn of the boat help it ride well and make it comfortable and stable. On acceleration it comes on plane with little or no bow rise, which is really nice with so much boat in front of you from the helm. The boat steers easily and also handles very well dockside for its size, and the optional bow thruster made it really easy to move sideways along the dock.
The boat is laid out well, with a lot of good storage and practical use of space. Our test boat had a deck-mounted windlass and fairlead for the anchor; however, the boat has a molded-in anchor locker on the bow deck, as well as flush-mount pull-up cleats and a recessed handrail around the forward cockpit. The forward cockpit has U-shaped seating with storage below and a removable center-section insert that fills in the casting deck and doubles as a table. An optional refrigerated coffin-box seat comes mounted in front of the console.
The large console houses a fully finished head compartment with a sink, storage and access to the back of the electronics panels. The business side of the console is well thought through and laid out properly for a fish boat, with the helm mounted in the center, where it should be, and excellent access to all switches and gauges. The huge dash panel can hold three large screens, putting a lot of information at your fingertips. There are two molded-in footrests under the helm, one for sitting in the three-bolster seat and one for when you are using it as a leaning post with the seats dropped out. The leaning post and the second-row bench seat combine to provide comfortable seating for six under cover of the expansive fiberglass T-top. On the aft side of the helm leaning post, our test boat had a screen mounted to display movies or the nav screens at the helm. This is a great feature for passengers riding in the secondary seating.
Aft of the secondary leaning post, our test boat had the optional rigging station with tackle storage and a cooler, or you can select a fiberglass aft-facing seat. In-deck aft of the tackle center lies a huge access hatch to the lazarette, a fully finished bilge area with great access to pumps, fuel-tank management manifolds and other rigging equipment. Along the transom there's a 45-gallon livewell with two 1,500 gph pumps and a fold-down seat. The transom door is to starboard, but the really great feature is the optional side dive door in the hull. The door opens into the boat, providing easy in-and-out access with the dive ladder.
Two forward fish boxes drain overboard, and two more located aft drain via macerators. The 4100 we tested had 46 rod holders, including gunwale-mounted and tackle-center launchers, and it also had 16 drink holders strategically placed around the boat. The 4100 comes loaded with these types of features and does a good job of placating the fisherman and his family. She holds 630 gallons of fuel, and if you go easy on those quads, you can get some serious range with her too.
The 4100 Vector is a beefy, well-built boat with features and flair to make island hopping and offshore runs a lot of fun. The family will no doubt like the amenities, and the fisherman will like the big-boat features. With four huge outboards, the 4100 is not for the faint of heart, but it's no little center console either.
Hydra-Sports 4100 Vector
Deadrise......23 degrees at transom
Max Power......1,400 hp
Hydra-Sports Boats: 615-494-2090 www.hydrasports.com