52 Convertible — By Richard Thiel
— February 2002
|Viking kept what worked, improved what needed it, and came up with a hot new 52-footer.|
Bet you a PMY cap you can't answer this question: Between 1964 and today, what production yard built more boats larger than 40 feet than any other? If you guessed Sea Ray, Bayliner, or Carver, you'll have to find another way to keep your noggin warm this winter. Give up? It's Viking Yachts.
Surprised? You should be, for two reasons. One, Viking builds only high-end boats typically delivered with a lot of optional equipment, yet despite these vessels' relatively high prices, buyers are drawn to them like fish to a chum slick. Two, the company builds only one kind of boat, convertibles, so its line should appeal to a relatively small audience--theoretically. (Viking Sport Cruisers, a separate company, sells cruising yachts.) Obviously not all Viking owners are hard-core anglers.
One could easily speculate on the reasons for such success, but you don't have to be a marketing guru to figure out that a big one is a constantly evolving product line. Year after year, Viking introduces more new models than many full-line builders. Not known for
reinventing itself, Viking hews to a gradual approach that maintains a clear identity and thereby maximizes resale value. If you look down a line of Vikings from the last 10 years, you're struck as much by their familial appearance as you are by their differences.
But Vikings do change, and the principal theme of late has been a simpler, cleaner look with more curves and fewer angles. The result has been a custom-boat aura clearly apparent in its latest model, the 52 Convertible. Replacing the 50 Convertible, she was introduced to dealers in June and to the public in September at the Norwalk Boat Show. Her design cues follow those of the 55, 61, and 65: a sleek windshield, uncluttered hull and cabin sides (no feature creases), pronounced camber across the transom, and unbroken pilasters at each aft house corner. If you've got a sharp eye, you'll also notice a straighter, more forward-angled forefoot, which gives her a look of movement even when she's standing still.
But that forefoot is about more than style. A finer entry is part of a package of changes Viking made to the 50's hull to improve seakindliness and dryness, especially in deteriorated conditions. Said to be effective in head seas, the forefoot also works with reconfigured chines and added bow flare to keep things drier in all conditions. The chine change is subtle--flat instead of down-angled and narrower in the midsections--but it appears to work. In my 20 minutes or so at the wheel, spray broke cleanly away from the chine, well aft of amidships, producing a smooth wave that indicates minimal turbulence. Taking the four-foot rollers on all points, I was unable to dampen the cockpit significantly--or even the bridge--despite a steady 14-knot breeze.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.