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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Viking Sport Cruisers 63 Motor Yacht

Robert Moss really likes boats. He enjoys them so much that he's owned nine new ones since 2004. I met Moss because he kindly let me test his most recent addition, a Viking Sport Cruisers 63 Motor Yacht. I arrived at the vessel's home at the Brewer Yacht Sales yard on Long Island's north shore, and this avid boater soon gave me the skinny on why he digs the 63.

"When I took delivery of my previous boat [a brand different from his Viking Sport Cruisers], I had a 300-item punchlist for her," he says to me, adding enthusiastically, "With this boat, I had three little things." Noting Moss' passion for his latest boat, and this brand especially, I was revved up and ready to check out this sporty-looking lady.

This owner-operator ventures out every weekend during the season, often cruising to hot spots like Montauk, New York, usually spending several nights onboard. So one of the 63's highlights for Moss is the cherrywood-adorned, full-beam (16'9") master. The king berth here is flanked to starboard by plenty of dresser space for a week's trip. (If the voyage goes longer, the industrial-strength standard Bosch washer and dryer down the hall will come in handy.) A seating area to port of the berth offers a great place to kick back and read a book as natural light floods in via four elliptical portholes. The en suite head features an enclosed shower, and to maximize headroom there's a seven-inch step down into it. While it's necessary—otherwise shower headroom wouldn't be able to accommodate six-plus-footers like Moss—I'm not a fan of steep drops in a boat.

Of course, if this owner plans on taking some of his friends cruising out east with him, there are three other healthy-size and equally well-appointed staterooms and two more heads as well.

After proudly showing me the starboard side galley-up with pass-through to the lower helm, Moss let me take his pride and joy for a spin. His parting words were, "You're going to love this boat, she handles as easily as my 31-footer." Shortly after that endorsement, Staten Island Yacht Sales' Rich Lucas, Viking Sport Cruisers' sales manager Tom Carroll, Jr., and I were off to hit Long Island Sound and get this vessel's test numbers.

A steady ten- to 15-mph breeze made for a small chop on the Sound, which was easily dispatched by the 63's Bernard Olesinski deep-V hull. That wave-slicing form is supported by a solid-fiberglass hull bottom with foam-cored hull sides, which adds rigidity without excessive weight. Another weight-saving measure involves installing aircraft-grade wiring on the 63, which Carroll says is lighter than traditional wiring and saves about 300 pounds. To further strengthen the structure, the engine beds are integrally molded into the hull.

In addition to being strong, the 63 is quick. The optional twin 1,100-hp MAN diesel inboards (865-hp Caterpillars are standard) helped propel this cruiser to an average 2000-rpm cruise speed of 33.3 mph while the engines burned 78.6 gph. At that rate, this vessel offers a 343-statute-mile range, which effortlessly covers one of Moss' round-trip Montauk visits. At WOT the MANs were spinning 2320 rpm, enabling the 63 to sprint across the Sound with a top average speed of 37.4 mph at a cost of 110.8 gph.

There are two helms on the 63, which at first glance seem like traditional upper and lower stations. While these two areas mirror each other in terms of layout and electronics (like the MAN single-levers and Furuno electronics suite), there is one significant difference: The upper helm's steering is fly-by-wire, and the lower helm's is hydraulic with power-assist.

At the upper helm, it was easy to freewheel the electric steering, which resulted in some fun and sharp turns at cruise speed. Hard-over turns were completed in about three to four boat lengths, with just a couple-hundred-rpm loss during the process. This helm offers unobstructed sightlines in almost all directions; the flying-bridge overhang partially obscures the view of the swim platform. Our test boat didn't have a hardtop, but the Venturi windscreen did a solid job of deflecting the breeze up and over our heads. For guests keeping the captain company, there's a large U-shape seating area aft of the helm seat. In addition, there's a Ceran grill for cooking on the hook.

The position of the lower helm is to starboard and a little farther forward than the centerline upper one. Thanks to the raked windshield and the boat's minimal bow rise when getting on plane, she was sporty to drive from here even if the wheel actual didn't spin, as if disconnected. I noted a couple of minor issues in driving from this position. With my polarized glasses on, I had trouble seeing through the raked windshield, and as I wear prescription lenses, I pretty much had to deal with the blue striations. Another disadvantage is that during hard-over turns, the 63's moderate inboard heel obscures your view into the turn until the boat comes back to vertical. That said, this helm has clean sightlines for just about everything else, including backing into a slip.

It was quiet here, too. Top decibel readings at the lower helm measured 77 (65 dB is the level of normal conversation). The 63 receives a healthy treatment of Soundown insulation, according to Carroll. The upper helm sported a top reading of 83 dB, which is still quite good considering it's an open space.

This boat's quietude was quite relaxing on the cruise back to the slip, and soon it was time for me to head off to the next gig. What I learned of the 63 is that this is a boat that can satisfy a variety of owners. If you like speed, she has it. Comfort? She oozes it, from the neutral tones of her saloon's settees to the warmth of that abundant high-gloss cherrywood. Her ride is sporty and inspires you to keep on driving. And who knows, if you're out in Montauk soon, maybe you'll get to meet Moss, and he'll give you a tour of her. But be warned, you might end up wanting one.

For more information on Viking Sport Cruisers, including contact information, click here.

Did you know that your boat's shaft can spin fast enough to cause air to flow through your zincs and pummel the props with missile-like air bubbles, causing damage? These zincs can also deteriorate, break off, and damage the cutlass bearings. To prevent these events from happening, Viking Sport Cruisers decided to bond all of its shafts (and rudders) internally through the boat's bonding system. A magnetic brush, which is tied into the boat's bonding system, keeps constant contact with the shaft, protecting it and and the propellers from corrosion. This system eliminates the need for costly shaft and rudder zincs. The only zincs present are two large hull zincs, trim tab zincs, and small zincs used on the propeller hubs of the bow and stern thruster.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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