Viking has just wedged a 61-footer between its 58 and 65. It’s hard to believe that you’d find a significant difference between boats with just three or four feet defining them. But owners and captains alike agree that the 65 and the 61 sit on opposite sides of the big-boat/mid-size line.
The 61’s cored fiberglass bottom enjoys some minor refinements, such as different chine angles and a deeper, finer entry. The bow has also been raked more severely. I found that these refinements conspired to make a drier ride on every point of sail, but especially in a head sea. The changes also carry over into the 61’s styling, where Viking continues to replace sharp corners with soft, radius turns.
Despite a wide separation between the helm and companion seats and the aft flybridge rail, the helmsman’s view aft remains unobstructed. However, on such big boats, the distance to the forward end of the bridge is enough that no matter your height, you’ll appreciate the centerline cutout filled with Lucite allowing you to see the foredeck and bow.
As with all recent-vintage Vikings, the steering responds instantly at speed for small course changes while a 180-degree turn takes about eight boat lengths.
Surprisingly, the 1,480-horsepower DDC/MTU 2000 engines pushing the 61 represent a full 500 fewer horses each than the engines typically used in the 65. The lower horsepower didn’t hamper performance in the least. On the way back from the canyons on our day of fishing, I assure you that the 61 passed everyone – even the outboard-powered boats. Top speed according to two GPS units proved an impressive 38 knots. Cooking along at a 30-knot cruising speed still seemed very comfortable.
Unfortunately, my fishing luck held true for our 100-plus-mile trip out to the canyons off Ocean City, Maryland. We didn’t see a fish the entire day. Of course, the day after I left, the Viking 61 fished the Ocean City White Marlin Open and caught a blue marlin over 700 pounds to win the event.
What I discovered working the cockpit was that I couldn’t tell the difference between the cockpits of the 61 and the 65. Both have more than enough room for a half-dozen anglers and crew to work without getting into each other’s way. In typical Viking fashion, the 61’s cockpit could be described as sterile. No coolers are needed and no pipes, latches, mops, shoreline cables or gaffs remain in view. Viking even makes use of the step up to the salon, turning it into a refrigerated drink box.
Viking has also incorporated its signature tapered salon cabin sides in the 61. This channels air down the side of the cabin into the cockpit, eliminating any “station wagon” effect from the exhaust and reducing the salt buildup on the salon’s cockpit window at the end of the day.
At a 3- to 4-knot trolling speed (5 gph total), the wake features virtually no wash. At 8 knots, the prop wash becomes visible to the first wave, but still without chine turbulence.
In simulating the maneuvers involved in fighting fish, I found the 61 responsive and nimble. Anyone who believes boats over 40 feet long can’t fish worth a darn needs to revisit their theories on some of these new large boats. They can keep up with the wildest of fish surprisingly well.
Viking handles passenger safety better than many by covering the entire foredeck with nonskid. Whoever goes to the bow to anchor or handle dock lines will greatly appreciate it. And there are better than average handholds throughout, but I’d still like to see more overhead handholds wherever a wide-open space exists without furniture or counters to brace against. I’d also like to see the bow rail extend farther aft to meet the cabin sides. As you can see from the running shot, there’s a long space where you’d be on your hands and knees if you had to go forward in a heaving sea.
Once you stock the pantry on the flybridge, you’ll never have to leave. A full wet bar, refrigerated drink box and tons of dry storage will keep food and drink handy at all times. I also like the ergonomics of the helm. A three- or four-hour trip goes by fairly quickly when you can see and reach all your electronics and controls comfortably from the helm seat.
The flybridge on the earliest hull sported a concession to styling that I found unsettling. While the prototype’s ladder from the cockpit provided an excellent angle and very secure handholds, once you reached the top, you faced a large hole between the down-curving end of the flybridge coaming and the tower leg.
The Viking 61 comes in your choice of a three- or four-cabin layout: With three cabins, you’ll find the master stateroom to port with a queen-size berth. Opposite is an over/under bunk cabin with head. Finally, the forecastle has a low double berth to port and a higher single bunk to starboard, both along the curve of the hull. Each cabin has its own private head.
The four-cabin configuration features two fore-and-aft doubles in the bow to port, each with a private head, and two over/under cabins that share a head to starboard.
If you consider yourself a classic yachtsman, you’ll love the Viking 61’s interior. Teak varnished to a high gloss simply cannot be beat in my book. We managed to comfortably sleep five on the deeply carpeted floor and the great three-sided settee.
The galley resembles the cockpit with its stark cleanliness and lack of clutter. I particularly like the strategically hidden drawers containing the refrigerators and freezers. A recessed three-burner electric stove in the counter handles saute and poaching, while a microwave/convection oven handles roasts. Then the dishwasher takes care of the empties. All galley cabinets have sliding shelving or drawers that pull out for much easier access.
The 61’s engine room doesn’t offer quite the standing headroom its big sister 65 does. However, getting in and out remains easy and everything you need to reach for both regular maintenance or emergency management has been placed close at hand. A pump room acts as a noise damper between the master stateroom and the engine compartment, and every surface of the engine space has been finished in gloss white for good looks and easy maintenance.