The first thing you notice about the Viking 44 Open is her racy, eye-pleasing and proportional profile. From that slightly raked bow to her gently sloping sheer, and the way the wraparound windshield rises up easily from the foredeck, she is indeed a head-turner. But as with every Viking Yacht, there is much more to her than a stunning exterior.
“The 44 Open appeals to families ready to take the next step into the Viking lifestyle,” says Viking president and CEO Patrick Healey, as we stepped aboard the latest addition to the company’s well-admired lineup.
With more available space in the cockpit, on the command deck, and in the belowdecks accommodations than their popular37 Billfish and the 42-footer, the Viking design team went to work. When Healey and company bring out a new product, they gather everyone around a large table and toss out ideas. The best, of course, stick. “It’s always been a very collegial experience, and we listen to what everyone has to say,” he says. “Sometimes it takes weeks, or even longer. With this boat, it happened very quickly.”
To that end, a pair of 800-horsepower I6 MAN diesels were chosen as the standard power, providing 30-knot cruising speeds and a 34.5- to 35-knot top end.
The Engine Room and Cockpit
With boats of this size traditionally being owner operated, Viking made sure everything that fit this profile was put aboard, making the experience as good as it gets. One merely has to step aboard the 119-square-foot cockpit area to know that despite her size, this boat is all Viking and ready for action. Along with the requisite in-sole fish boxes, transom livewell and aft lazarette, all with deep channels to quickly drain deck water, the cockpit is well thought out. Access to the engine room is via a hatch in the mezzanine.
In true Viking fashion, I found the boat’s engine room to be perfectly laid out for the hands-on skipper to do all critical fluid checks and, if necessary, perform whatever maintenance is required without fear of a head-banging, knuckle-busting experience. I noted all pumps, switches and system controls were within easy reach. There is also dedicated space for a Seakeeper gyrostabilizer.
In the cockpit, the mezzanine itself, set a bit to starboard to accommodate the stairs to the command deck, provides seating and a great view of the action.
I particularly liked the centerline helm, mounted on a raised platform. With the large wraparound windshield, its support posts pushed way back to either side in order to provide a single piece of glass in the center; even at the dock I could see the great sight lines afforded with the design. Indeed, when I got to run her in the ocean, whether doing hole shots, tight circles and turns, or backing down hard — all a testimony to her fine design and engineering — my view was just as it should be.
The boat is topped with a custom tuna tower from Viking subsidiary Palm Beach Towers. This flawless piece of equipment affords even more spectacular vistas, as well as providing a perfect platform from which to keep a sharp eye out for cutting marlin. And the expert electronics installation is courtesy of Viking’s own Atlantic Marine Electronics, another example of the boatbuilder’s vertical integration of key services.
The Salon and Accommodations
To port of the helm is a built-in console housing a tackle center, refrigerator and storage locker. On the starboard-side and aft is a seating area.
Access to the living accommodations is also to port, where you can easily see how Viking utilized every square inch of space to provide a livable and comfortable area in which to enjoy the time, whether it be an overnighter or for extended trips offshore.
The seating area is to port, and it is not out of the question for this to be a comfortable alternative sleeping area for weary fishermen. Just opposite is the fully found galley, providing all the counter space and equipment necessary for complete meal preparation. Also located on the aft bulkhead is the complete breaker system for the boat.
The generous forepeak quarters, with a shared head, shows Viking’s attention to detail and excellent fit-and-finish work, as does the second stateroom, located aft and beneath the command deck. Again, it’s a great area to catch some rest or for the kids to continue their onboard adventures. And regardless of where I looked, I found plenty of storage throughout the boat for those times when its owners and guests will be away from the dock for extended periods.
Construction and Performance
John Leek IV, Viking’s general manager of its’ Mullica, New Jersey, facility, adds some valuable insight. “Viking’s hull construction is second to none,” he says. “Our boatbuilding techniques have been developed over the course of 50-plus years, and we use the same construction practices on all of our models, which range from 37 to 93 feet in length.”
The stringers are glassed to the hull, then the floors are secured to the stringers and glassed to the hull. Next, the bulkheads are also glassed to the floor, and then into the hull and deck. “Everything that goes into each Viking comes together in a strong, solid structure. It’s not any one thing but a combination of techniques,” Leek notes.
To support the engines, Viking uses an aluminum extrusion and affixes it to the stringer to create a full-length engine bed. Leek referred me to the positioning of the vibration isolators and the engine mounts. “Making sure the drive train is aligned and sitting securely on those beds is essential to the smooth, stable ride of the boat,” he says. Other points to note are her resin-infused hull and main structural bulkheads and the light resin transfer method utilized on all lids, doors and hatches. In addition, the fuel tanks are built integrally into the hull.
All of this comes together once she hits the water and is off to fish or cruise. On my test day, with a rolling, fetching sea offshore of Atlantic City, New Jersey, we were able to put the 44 Open through her paces. Cruising easily at 30 knots, I found her to be a nimble, quick-to-react boat, answering the helm with all the attitude of a sports car.
According to Healey, the 44 Open is a logical choice for owners of outboard-powered center console boats looking for more comfort and weather protection, as well as offering those who might be downsizing from larger vessels the unique opportunity to experience Viking’s quality and performance. The 44 Open is the kind of boat that is easy to own and ready to take her place in Viking’s prestigious lineup of outstanding offshore sport-fishing boats.
LOA: 45’1″ | Beam: 16’4″ | Draft: 3’10” | Gross Weight: 49,500 lb
Fuel: 845 gal. | Water: 120 gal. | Power: Twin I6 MAN 800 hp diesels