|Courtesy Viking Yachts|
While the Bass River in New Gretna, New Jersey, does not hold any significant game fish, it is home to a very specific top-of-the-line predator of another kind. Viking Yachts designs and builds its famous line of sport-fishers there, and my quarry for this outing was nothing less than the brand-spanking-new Viking 55C.
The first 55C, drawn by Bruce Wilson — who has been with Viking since 1968 — was introduced at the 1997 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. It was extremely well received, and Viking built 153 55Cs, cementing the model’s place as one of the premier sport-fishing boats in its size. Accordingly, the 55C occupied a strategic place in the Viking fleet. Equally impressive is the fact that Wilson’s son, Dave, designed the new 55C.
In describing the 55C from the bottom up, Dave Wilson explained how the convex shape is softened up in the midsections. “We’re always looking to refine it some with tank testing; maybe drop the deadrise 2 degrees, and then another [degree]. This new 55 is at almost 12 degrees at the transom, where my dad’s boat was at 15, 15½. Among other things, we’ve been working at getting a sharper entry up front and a little flatter in the back for [an] improved and efficient planing area aft,” Wilson says. “Nothing too exotic here. We weren’t looking for any buzzwords to describe the design. It is what it is, and if you come out with a good product, you can call it a Viking,” he says with pride.
|Courtesy Viking Yachts|
I have always asserted that, aside from the several factory visits at those strategic times during a new build, one should inspect the engine-room space before anything else on board. With Viking’s Peter Frederiksen as my guide, I easily lifted the upper cockpit’s centerline hatch and, after comfortably descending the stairs, entered the space. My first impression was that it was a roomy space with the kind of working room that would all but eliminate the elbow-busting, knuckle-scraping conditions often found in engine rooms of similar-size boats. Viking applies a gelcoat to the overhead and a bright-white Awlgripped finish to the bulkheads and bilge. The engineering staff fit in the pair of new MAN V12 1,550 hp CRM power plants to provide complete access on both the inboard and outboard sides. Among many other outstanding features, the new engines include: maintenance-free, gear-driven freshwater pumps, starter motors that can be fitted to both sides, and multistage injection for quiet operation.
During my performance runs, all of the engineering came together, providing powerful acceleration and lightning-quick reaction to the throttle. With that kind of power and room to move, the space is a skipper’s dream.