If there is something to be learned about the tenacity and longevity of Viking Yachts, one merely has to look at the ethic by which brothers Bill and Bob Healey began the company more than 50 years ago. “We’ll build a better boat each and every day.” It is the mantra with which CEO Patrick Healey has been able to take the iconic company to new heights. Proof positive is the latest to join Viking’s lineup — the 80C.
To be sure, there’s beauty in this beast, and it was quite obvious both to the eye and the senses as soon as her distinct profile came into view at Viking’s Riviera Beach, Florida, service center for my day aboard the 80C with Viking’s Capt. Ryan Higgins.
She bears all the hallmarks of her 92C big sister, starting with a wonderfully symmetrical profile topped by a skyscraper of a tower designed and built by Viking’s Palm Beach Towers. Immediately noticeable are her sharp entry, proud bow and foredeck, well-proportioned house, striking black mask, and low-slung cockpit and curved transom area with eye-catching tumblehome designed into the corners. She is nautical poetry in motion without ever leaving the dock.
“One of the things we do on all our boats, right up through the 92, is figure out how best to use the space by looking at a previous build,” said Higgins as we sat on the edge of the teak-soled lower mezzanine in the 216-square-foot cockpit to discuss Viking’s design. “We add input from all the members of our design team who actually get out and use the boats as they are meant to be used.”
I noticed the sitting height on that lower mezzanine seemed just right to give any crew member perfect sightlines aft watching the spread. There’s even a forward-facing curve on the mezzanine’s edge to provide just a bit more space behind the Release Marine chair.
As expected, Viking provided the business end with all the requisite equipment, including storage cabinets under each gunwale together with an oil-change system with quick connects, drop-in deck boxes, a dedicated compartment for the M26 Seakeeper gyro, transom and in-sole livewells, Eskimo shaved-ice makers, chill boxes, chest freezer compartments, four stainless-steel stacking bait trays, a refrigerated step box and an upper-mezzanine bench with more storage underneath. And yes, this space is air-conditioned from above.
Accessed via the usual entry point through a wide hatch on the lower mezzanine, the engine room is well laid out, especially with the big MTU 16V 2000 M96Ls taking center stage. There’s plenty of headroom, total access to all maintenance areas and equipment, a white Awlgrip finish and places for all the redundant systems, including a pair of 29 kw Onan gensets.
“As these boats get bigger, dealing with the layouts has become more custom for us. The task of providing just what an owner wants is something our people have realized,” says Higgins. And as long as the owner and the factory plan well in advance, there is enough leeway to accommodate their needs.
With the portside galley turned stern to bow instead of the usual athwartships, the view forward takes your eye right through the salon, past the starboard dinette — with its rod-storage drawer below — and down the stairs to the long hallway leading to the staterooms and forepeak quarters. “We introduced this layout on the 92, and it went over so well we decided to offer it here,” says Higgins.
The salon offers plenty of room for a big C-shaped couch to port. Just as you enter the electric sliding door, there’s a day head over to starboard — the EB model will lose this due to the stairway as the head moves forward of the dinette — and a storage console with a 60-inch television.
“We’re running a URC Total Control system that can be operated from any remote on the boat. You can pull up your navigation equipment, plotters, sounders, radar and cameras, as well as control all the lighting and the Sirius radio and weather,” says Higgins. In addition, the 80C is equipped with Dometic’s new Smart Touch Integrated Intelligence Control (STIIC) system, allowing remote-controlled management of the watermaker, refrigeration, air conditioning and any of the company’s other components.
The space just forward of the galley has been allotted for an additional bunk room on this boat. However, it can be an office area, extra pantry or further rod and tackle storage. “Hull No. 4 put a full-size side-by-side washer and dryer in here,” Higgins remarks.
The five-stateroom, six-head layout is masterfully arranged, with the full-beam master down a few steps to starboard, a queen-berth VIP to port, a pair of over-under quarters to starboard and the forepeak stateroom. All feature luxurious accommodations, more than ample headroom and plenty of storage space for extended time away.
Topside, the bridge is just what one would expect on a Viking: well laid out, with great sightlines both forward and aft. The elevated helm platform allows for unobstructed views of the bow even with guests in the forward seating area.
The helm is massive, with an array of large screens under a glass cover whose many operations are controlled by easy-to-reach remote buttons, all within an arm’s length away. The Dometic STIIC touch screen and the OctoPlex system, which controls every breaker on the boat, are also readily accessible, along with management of the FLIR cameras, the electro-hydraulic Viper independent rudder steering system, the Seakeeper gyro, fire systems and more. “I can control just about every system right from here,” Higgins says.
Underway, she delivered pure Viking excitement and performance, all in perfect balance. As soon as we cleared the Palm Beach inlet jetties, we were off to the races.
Thanks to weight-saving techniques throughout the boat, including a hybrid carbon-fiber and E-glass laminate in the hull, carbon-fiber laminate in the deckhouse and hardtop, and a smoother-running bottom, we were moving along at 41-plus knots. Carving precise turns at 35 knots, tracking straight and true, backing down with incredible nimbleness, assurance and control, along with that feeling of hitting the throttles and feeling the raw power take over as she jumps right out of the hole, is nothing short of exhilarating. And once you get your hands on the wheel, it’s hard to let go.
To portend positive things to come, we sighted no less than three large baitballs breaking on top and a slew of cutting sailfish in the process of rounding up their next meal — a sure sign the 80C has arrived.