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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Boat Test: Viking Sport Cruisers V62

The evening’s peripherals were perfect. A few lights had begun twinkling along Plymouth’s quaint English shoreline. Great drafts of bracing salt air whooshed across our open Skyhatch, a mechanically actuated moonroof of sorts, through which a faint moon shone, at least on some of my longer beeline runs. And the rain had quit, leaving a sunset sky washed with amber and red.

The essence of the moment seemed to have little to do with any of this, however. Indeed, from where I sat, at the helm of a freshly minted Viking Sport Cruisers V62, I could see deeper things going on, well beyond the niceties of scene and climate.

I pegged the Rexroth electronic sticks under my right hand, spun a tight, hardover turn with the fingertips of my left and the result, from what I could tell by casting a brief glance over my shoulder, was decidedly poetic—a sweet, semi-circular curve that sent a shot of pure adrenaline rattling up my jaded old spine.

“I’m tellin’ ya, boys,” I grinned at the two Sport Cruisers reps onboard, “Drivin’ this baby’s some serious fun!”

And why not? From data runs completed earlier that afternoon I knew our current velocity across Plymouth Sound was approximately 44 mph, an unabashedly flamboyant top-end for a 25-ton vessel. Visibility from my form-fitting, mucho-adjustable helm seat (with a companion alongside) was superb, even with the sun wallowing on the horizon, thanks to two giant windshield panels obstructed by only a thin, center mullion and another pair of big side windows as well. Sound levels in the saloon/wheelhouse area were modest, at least by express-boat standards. (See, “By the Numbers,” this story.)

Oddly enough, though, none of this seemed to explain the jubilance I was feeling and I fumbled around with the issue until almost dark when I cranked the last turn of the evening, with considerable regret and nary a hint of prop blowout:

Balance, that was it! That was the essence of the moment. Bernard Olesinski had drawn the 62’s hull form to sweetly split the difference between the lithe agility of a performance-oriented deep-V screamer (with a transom deadrise of 21 degrees; wide, significantly reversed chine flats; and three running strakes on either side) and the measured plumpness characteristic of a big and roomy express cruiser that has lots of living space inside and a very high amenity quotient to go with it.

The positioning of the 62’s diesel engines (each with a large saddle tank just outboard it) proved the point. Instead of shoving such weighty components all the way aft and dedicating the space gained forward to enlarging the interior, Olesinski had decided to keep everything closer amidships, a strategy that had optimized running attitudes as well as visibility (particularly when coming out of the hole) and helped produce unwavering directionality on the straightaway, solid, nose-up cornering in even the tightest turns, and performance efficiencies that punched up the Bliss-O-Meter, as well as the speed log.

You can’t give Olesinski all the credit, though. Princess Yachts, which builds the entire Sport Cruisers line in England in conjunction with its American partner, Viking Sport Cruisers, had resin-infused our 62’s hull, along with her superstructure and many other structural components, and such infusion tends to reduce overall laminate weight, thereby boosting top end and producing stronger, more resilient structures by optimizing their resin-to-glass ratios.

Princess had done other good things, too. Our test boat sported three foam-cored fiberglass liner-like “tray molds” (as Princess calls them) supporting her forward accommodation spaces, her saloon/wheelhouse, and her lazarette area, each thoroughly ‘glassed to the hull, a measure that engenders extra structural strength and rigidity, as well as a solid, unibody feel. Moreover, she has a hull-to-deck joint secured with a urethane-type marine adhesive and through-bolts on three-inch centers, then fiberglassed, all the way around.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to dock our 62 in Plymouth once we’d finished with the trial, due to Princess’ company policy and the vagaries of insurance, but the process seemed to go easily and straightforwardly enough for the captain onboard, thanks to the superb visibility and the lively oomph of a couple of electric Side-Power thrusters, a standard one at the bow and an optional one at the stern. Line-handling access to the starboard side deck was relatively easy and unimpeded, but getting to the side deck on the port side was a tad challenging, primarily because I had to fumble over the cockpit’s U-shape lounge and a bit of the sunpad atop the garage.

The 62’s interior was almost as much of an eye-opener as my driving experience. In light of her exciting open-water performance, I’d been expecting a Spartan, perhaps even a cramped layout inside, but I found something remarkably different. On the bottom deck, the full-beam master was genuinely spacious, with an immense berth, an en suite head, and a bank of four vertical windows per side. The other two staterooms were of ample size and offered fine sleeping arrangements via an island berth in the forward VIP and two single berths in the starboard guest room. The galley/dinette area was generously sized as well and open to a flood of ambient light from the windshield above.

The situation topside was almost as roomy, in large part because the living area here could be easily extended from the comparatively small saloon/wheelhouse into the cockpit by simply opening the intervening three-part stainless steel slider. The decorative ambiance, consisting of a satin-oak finish with dark-brown leather accents (the theme that prevails throughout the rest of the vessel), was bright and cheerful. And the finish was crisp and solidly executed.

My only complaint arose when I visited the 62’s engine room. While the place had obviously been carefully engineered and laid out, it was a bit tight in spots. For instance, outboard access to the engines was relatively difficult due to their close proximity to the fuel tanks and the distance between the exhaust manifolds of the extra wide MTUs measured just 15 inches.

Despite this minor (unless you’re a mechanic) gripe, my opinion remained high, though. The Viking Sport Cruisers V62 is an undeniably comfortable cruiser with a practical, wholly satisfying interior. And on the performance side? Well, had there been one just more hour of daylight to play with once we’d finished up the test, I’d have wrangled another spin around Plymouth Sound, sure as heck!


A Better Mousetrap

Some cabinet latches rely on friction, others on spring-loaded receivers or keepers and bulbous studs, and still others on a plunger that appears as a disc on the door. They all get the job done.

But our test boat had none of these. Instead, her cabinets were outfitted with a dead simple, totally invisible latch called the Southco Parrot from marine hardware manufacturer Southco. With our 62's cabinet doors extending below the bottom frame of each cabinet, her Parrot latches were fitted on the back side of each door (see above) just below the bottom frame, thus engendering a cleaner, crisper, and invisible (with the door closed) appearance. And since the mechanism is little more than a spring-loaded rocker, it's simple to adjust and easy to replace. —B.P.

Southco (610) 459-4000. www.southco.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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