Sport Cruisers V65 Express Yacht — By Capt. Bill Pike
— May 2000
|What’s as solid as a freight train, even in big seas? And as comfortable as a Lincoln to boot? The Viking Sport Cruisers V65.|
I've seen my share of big seas. Eight-footers. Fifteen-footers. Thirty-footers. Even some 40-footers once. And frankly, I find no attraction whatsoever in being bounced, rolled, or launched off lofty crests with astronautical abandon. Just thinking about such goofiness gives me hives. So it was with some trepidation that I boarded Viking Sport Cruisers' V65 in Miami just prior to a departure for sea trials in the open Atlantic.
Conditions onboard were going to be wretched. I knew this because just the day before, I'd swallowed about a half gallon of sea water enduring what I like to call "The Maytag Effect" on the flying bridge of a considerably larger vessel, plowing through long, grim phalanxes of four- to six-footers, with the occasional eight-footer thrown in. From the look of the sky and the feel of the wind this morning, it seemed pretty darn obvious that today would be an instant dreary replay of yesterday.
But developments soon proved me wrong. In fact, well before I could even see the outboard end of Government Cut from the enclosed helm of the V65, I was beginning to really enjoy this British-built but thoroughly Americanized version of the express-yacht genre. Talk about comfort. By powering open the "sunroof," a sliding rectangular canvas built into the swoopy hardtop, I let in just enough fresh air for a salty ambiance. Automotive-style air conditioning outlets in the burl-elm dash focused streams of cool air with tactical precision. And the mucho-adjustable, body-contoured helm seat was superb. Not only could I push-button myself fore and aft electrically, I could also raise and lower the seat to maximize visibility.
The Atlantic was as wild and wooly as I'd expected. At the end of the Cut, the only other vessels in sight were a pilot boat slogging out to a container ship and another brand-new express cruiser, a 60-footer or thereabouts, crawling up the coast, pitching and rolling like there was no tomorrow, with the six- to eight-foot rollers on her beam. I fell in behind her, throttling up gradually.
Differences in the seakeeping qualities of the two vessels were immediately apparent. Where the V65 moved with steady assurance and hardly a fleck of spray on the windshield, the other boat lurched and rolled with vehement wetness. In short order, my competitive side surfaced and I eased the Mathers single-lever electronic controls to two-thirds, which sent the VDO tachs to 1750 rpm and the readout on the Northstar 951XD GPS/plotter to around 32 mph.
The ensuing experience was like speeding across a vast, aquatic parking lot in a Lincoln Town Car. I was sitting serenely at the helm--not needing to raise my nose even a little to view the scene ahead--while fascinatingly uproarious sea conditions whizzed by the side windows. I was talking to the other guys onboard like we were all gathered around a table at a South Beach restaurant on a quiet, sultry afternoon, only switching the wipers on now and again. Emboldened, I further advanced the throttles, a move that caused the V65 to swiftly draw abeam of the other boat, pass her, then ultimately achieve a remarkable top hop of 45.2 mph. I continued to hard-charge the V65 up-sea, down-sea, and side-sea, driving with sweet, unbothered impunity. And a great big smile on my face. Sometimes guys just gotta have fun.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.