Not the kind of day snowbirds come to Florida for: Heavy, dark clouds scudded by, dumping rain squalls one after another. That, added to the 15-knot cold wind, made me want to stay in the truck instead of launching the boat.
As the trailer backed down the ramp, I couldn’t get over how hard it was to tell the difference between this 23 and the Hydra-Sports 25 that graced our January cover. In fact, I have to look at the model designation on the hull to tell one from the other: It’s a big 23-footer.
Though rated for twin 175s, our test boat had a single economical 225-hp Ficht Ram Injection engine. We idled out of Fort Pierce Inlet on Florida’s Atlantic coast at a stately 2 mph with the engine humming along at 800 rpm.
The northeast wind against an outgoing tide quickly made it apparent how well the 2390 handles a head sea. Not only does it get up on plane quickly – even with a single engine – but it cuts through the seas very nicely.
Older Hydra-Sports used to be very sensitive to trim. In fact, adjusting trim was a constant process. The newly designed running surfaces by OMC’s naval architect, Sidney Lanier, make the Vector series far less sensitive. Where once you had to tap the trim button repeatedly back and forth to get just the right adjustment, now you can hold the button down and control the trim slowly and precisely. The 2390 also qualifies as drier than previous models, thanks to an almost Carolina-style bow flare.
Though top speed offshore would have been imprudent, we found an ideal cruising speed of 35 mph running in the troughs, using 12.27 gph for a range of 467 miles. Pretty impressive for a 23-footer. That works out to an equally impressive 2.8 miles per gallon. With the engine at cruising trim, the bow dips slightly in a hard-over turn, which bleeds off speed quickly, allowing the 2390 to pivot without throwing anyone off balance.
Back in sheltered water, I got a top speed of 46 mph at 5,800 rpm and the consumption still hovered just above 2 mpg. But where the Ficht power really shines is at trolling speed. At 1,000 rpm and almost 6 mph, the 225 sipped less than a gallon per hour. Imagine – a 946-mile range at trolling speed from an outboard.
Hydra-Sports added several good features including a large in-deck dry-storage locker with a molded area to accommodate a five-gallon bucket for your cast net, lures or cleaning supplies. A forward casting deck has two large draining compartments while a “ballyhoo box” to starboard and a large live baitwell on centerline fill the transom. The ballyhoo box’s drain lets you quickly defrost your frozen bait in seawater, then empty the box and fill it with ice to keep baits fresh. I also found it to be the perfect trash basket when trolling lures.
Between the chines and the transom-bracket overhang, the bottom design makes for amazing stability while drifting in a beam sea. Once you bring a fish to the boat, an aluminum toe rail provides a lock-in point for your feet as you lean over the side. I found the cockpit to be sufficiently big for two to work at once, and thankfully, the angles of the rod holders don’t take up cockpit space or block you when rods are in them.
Though not inset, the bow rail is flush with and inside the top of the gunwale so it provides security without snagging lines or nets.
Design and Construction
Hydra-Sports reckoned the 2390 Vector had a very different mission from previous 23-foot models. To fulfill its
mission, this 23 meets all the rigorous requirements of the Southern Kingfish Association’s new 23-foot class. That means these boats can run long distances at relatively high speeds in almost any kind of sea conditions. The only place I know that needs boats to be as tough as the kingfish tournament circuit is the military’s special boat ops. With a layer of Kevlar in the laminate, perhaps Hydra-Sports is considering some government contracts.
Structural strength stems from the one-piece finished liner that runs from anchor locker bulkhead to transom. Methacrylate bonds together the liner, deck and hull by melting the plastic resin of each surface for positive adhesion at the molecular level. The laminate consists of tri-directional fiberglass sandwiched with Kevlar, full-foam construction and no wood anywhere. Installing the stringer system while the boat is still in the mold prevents hull deformities.
To make the purchase of a boat even easier, Hydra-Sports now can install all your electronics at the factory, mount a T-top with zip-in life jacket storage and fit the outriggers. All you have to do when you take delivery is turn the key.