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April 05, 2005

Hydra-Sports Vector 2500CC

This 2500 offers the same stylish good looks as the 2800, the same well-designed fishing layout, and the same upscale fit and finish, all in a boat that's more affordable and easier to handle.

This 2500 offers the same stylish good looks as the 2800, the same well-designed fishing layout, and the same upscale fit and finish, all in a boat that's more affordable and easier to handle. Did somebody say, "Family friendly"?

Not that the 2500 can't be used for serious fishing. It has all the tools you'll need for any type of fishing excursion, whether you like casual weekend trolling or hit the SKA circuit full bore. But whatever your preference, you'll look good and be comfortable in this boat. Far from being a Spartan, entry-level center console, the 2500 brings to mind words like "plush."

People who like speed need to take a ride on this boat. I got a chance to open it up in the protected waters of Florida Bay. The twin Yamaha F225 four-strokes pushed the 2500 effortlessly, reaching an amazing top speed approaching 60 mph. I rode in a short chop brought on by a winter cold front - a little too rough to run for long at WOT -  but I still managed 57.5 mph at 5,400 rpm. Hydra-Sports claims a top speed of 59.7 mph. Either way, that's plenty fast.

But boats spend the majority of their time at cruising speeds, and the 2500 shines here as well. After some brief bow rise when you apply the throttle, the boat settles down to a nice, level running attitude. It soon reaches a cruising speed of 40.5 mph at 4,000 rpm, while using only 21.5 gph, for an efficiency of 1.9 mpg. That's pretty good for a boat this size.

I took no spray at all while zipping around the bay. The 2500 feels nimble and responds instantly to both helm and steering. Driven hard enough into the chop, the boat pounded a little, but by experimenting with the trim tabs, I could fine-tune the ride easily for maximum comfort. By all standards, it performed very well.

The 2500 features lots of nice items that fishermen will appreciate. In the bow, for example, a raised casting deck gives you heightened visibility. Beneath it are two 340-quart, insulated fish boxes that drain overboard. The casting deck on our boat had thick pads for sunbathing, which will probably find their way to the garage before serious fishing trips are undertaken. Coaming pads save your knees, and a low-profile, aluminum bow rail provides a sure handhold, yet stays out of the way for casting or fighting a fish. Recessed cleats and a fold-down bow light keep all surfaces snag-free.

In the stern, a rectangular 35-gallon livewell with a 1,100-gph pump sits in the transom bulkhead, covered by split, clear acrylic lids so you can see the bait at all times. While such a large well surely holds tons of bait, because of its width it may benefit from a baffle in the middle to minimize sloshing. There's a small bait-prep sink to starboard and a transom door to port for access to the engine platform. You can store five rods along the back edge of the standard T-top, four more in racks beneath the gunwales. The 2500 also comes with four Lee rod holders in the gunwales.

Design and Construction
I've already mentioned the impressive level of fit and finish on the boat. Hatches, finished inside and out, rise on gas rams, and it's hard to find a rough edge anywhere on the boat. The innovative seating arrangement utilizes a couple of unusual designs. The leaning post, for instance, contains no rocket launcher, but instead has two folding seats that quickly convert from actual seats to wraparound racing bolsters - quite handy at 50-plus mph.

A transom bench seat lifts up for seating while traveling, but folds down out of the way when not in use. Several boat companies build this type of seat, but this one seems particularly well-built and larger than most. Tilt-out bins in the hull sides by the console hold dock lines, loose gear, tackle or whatever. 

If there's anywhere that the smaller size of the 2500 becomes apparent, it's in the console head compartment. Clearly, the claustrophobic and/or girth-challenged need not attempt entry into this space. Still, it stands to reason that some of the more modest ladies will take comfort just knowing that the standard porta potty sits below, just in case.

In the helm area, switches run down the left side vertically, with gauges arranged horizontally above, and there's a lot of room for mounting electronics. Everything on the console face - one large, nearly vertical surface - is logically arranged and easy to find.

Like all Hydra-Sports, the 2500 features no-wood construction; an integrated, foam-filled, structural grid stringer system; and a hull reinforced with Kevlar for superior toughness. High-density poured ceramic material makes up the transom core, and it's all backed by a 10-year limited hull warranty, with most component parts covered for three years.

If you're looking for a fast, stylish 25-footer with rugged construction and great fit and finish, you need to consider this one.