61SC — By Capt. Ken Kreisler
— January 2003
Cruising in Style
|Viking’s 61 Sport Cruiser is a luxurious blend of fine craftsmanship and spacious accommodations.|
“You can cut right in there, Ken. There’s plenty of water just off the bank,” says Peter Fredrickson, Viking’s director of marketing, as we navigate the upper regions of the winding Bass River from the flying bridge of a Viking 61 Sport Cruiser.
I have the big boat humming at just under 30 knots, according to the Furuno NavNet GPS, whose readings I confirmed earlier with my Stalker radar gun. As I turn the wheel to starboard, and then, as we enter the first of several curves, quickly back to port, I look ahead towards the next meandering turn, and she leans easily into the turn with no apparent slipping nor drop in rpm. Then, just as smoothly, she answers my command to go the other way. I always like putting a big boat through such maneuvers—not much can compare with having all that power under control. Unfortunately, this day sees calm conditions in the river as well as nearby Great Bay, so I won’t be able to test the 61’s seakeeping abilities.
The Bass River is one of the many protected tributaries, including the Batsto, Mullica, Wading, Maurice, and Great Egg Harbor Rivers, that inhabit the wetlands of southern New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. It’s a distinctive area that’s home to many unique animal and plant species and a number of distinctive boatbuilders, including Viking Yachts, which lies at the headwaters of the Bass River.
Famed for its battle-ready, horizon-chasing convertibles, Viking has also made a name for itself with its Sport Cruiser fleet, built by Princess Yachts of Plymouth, England, and overseen by division president and CEO Tom Carroll and vice president of operations Charlie Underwood. Viking’s Sport Cruiser line now has 12 models, including four express boats, three flying-bridge boats, and five motoryachts, of which the 61 is the latest vessel to join the fleet. “This boat is our blank sheet of paper for the Sport Cruiser line,” Carroll told me during a previous visit to the Viking plant. He says that while he and Underwood had input into the preceding models, they really got to call the shots on the 61.
The object of their work is a three-stateroom, three-head cruiser that was aimed directly at the American market. “All the soft goods are from the States, as is the seating and, of course, all the appliances. The mechanical and electrical systems were also designed for the U.S. market. And forget the coffin-like crew quarters found on most European-built boats. We go to a complete stowage area instead.” As Fredrickson and I sat in the big lazarette—accessed through a large hatch in the cockpit sole—I could see the space accommodating almost anything you’d need for a cruise: spare cases of oil, props, another anchor and rode, tools, and even a couple of bicycles.
Carroll and Fredrickson had given me a complete tour of the 61 before my day out on the Bass River and Great Bay. Entering the main deck area from the cockpit, I found a spacious room with four separate areas: an entertainment/saloon area aft, a galley to starboard and down slightly, a raised dining area opposite the galley, and the starboard helm station forward of the galley. Lightly colored overhead, seating areas and carpet were contrasted by warm cherrywood cabinetry and inlaid wood trim that together, with large windows all around, made for a spacious and airy feel.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.