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Viking Sanlorenzo 88

Several years ago New Jersey-based Viking Yachts embarked on a major collaborative effort with England's Princess Yachts to create the Viking Sport Cruisers line. To say that the effort was successful would be an understatement; the line now comprises more than a dozen models of flying bridge, express, and motoryacht styles ranging from 43 to 84 feet. But the Sport Cruisers are production yachts, and many owners have expressed a desire to move up in size and/or to have a truly custom yacht while staying in the Viking family.

To satisfy them, Viking employed the same collaborative approach, this time teaming with the Italian custom yacht builder Sanlorenzo, renowned for its half-century tradition of craftsmanship, quality, and luxury. Unlike the majority of Italian yards that rely on vast networks of subcontractors, Sanlorenzo is one of the few that builds virtually everything in-house: every component of the hull and superstructure; mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems; and the hallmark carpentry. Small wonder. It's the same philosophy that Viking Yachts has itself embraced for many years.

The first fruit of this collaboration is an 88-foot motoryacht, built for Viking as a spec project to support its marketing and sales efforts; future Viking Sanlorenzo 88s will be customized for each owner. Sanlorenzo currently builds about 25 custom yachts each year and has been selling its 88 in Europe for several years. But as a result of its collaboration with Viking, several design changes have been introduced to address the demands of the American market.

Among the more noticeable ones is the shape of the hull-side windows. Viking specified larger elliptical portholes in the master stateroom, but Sanlorenzo went a step farther, reconfiguring the portholes in all of the staterooms, giving the yacht a more cohesive style and a more upscale look. Rather than arguing over the change, the two companies settled on a solution that made the yacht better and that both partners could endorse.

A host of other design changes were similarly positive. Prop tunnels were to reduce draft to a Bahamas-friendly 5'11", and as a result, the hull is probably more efficient because of the reduced shaft angle that the tunnels permit. Air conditioning capacity was increased to cope with temperatures in southern Atlantic and Caribbean cruising destinations, which are typically well above those in Mediterranean and northern European waters. Appliances and related systems were redesigned to utilize brands that are readily serviceable in the United States, and to make sure things were installed right, engineers and technicians from each major equipment vendor participated in the redesign and inspected the final installation in the yard. Probably the most labor-intensive change that Viking stipulated was that all bilge areas be faired and finished in white Awlgrip. When this Herculean task was done, Sanlorenzo acknowledged that it was worth the effort, making it easier to keep things clean and to spot even small drips or leaks so they can be eliminated before becoming big problems.

Catering to customer-driven popularity of open layouts for main-deck spaces, interior designer Susan Kerns stipulated there be no bulkhead between the saloon and dining area. Instead she has shaped the furniture and cabinets in a way that defines each space without compromising the visual sensation of openness, an impression that's enhanced by generously sized windows along both sides and by sliding glass panels that open onto the aft deck. To further delineate the different spaces, the saloon flooring is carpeted (which is also beneficial acoustically), while the floor in the dining area is marble. Thin strips of teak outline the marble, tying it stylistically to the handsome high-gloss makore joinery.

For casual meals and snacks, the galley has a U-shape settee and dinette that also serve as the crew's dining area. Alongside the companionway leading to the crew staterooms, there's a built-in washer/dryer combo unit that's handy for the crew's laundry as well as for kitchen towels, napkins, and the like. The main laundry facility (with full-size washer and dryer units) is on the lower deck, convenient to the owner and guest staterooms.

While inspecting the accommodation areas, I noted several of the many features that typify Sanlorenzo's attention to detail. For example, all interior doorframes are fitted with gaskets that reduce sound and vibration. Hinges and door latches are stylish and solid—they operate easily and close with authority. Floors in the heads and shower enclosures are marble, the latter having drains that are concealed by an intricate inlay pattern. No detail has been overlooked. There is even a closet to stow the hose for the central vacuum system.

Taking the 88 out for a sea trial, I gained an appreciation for some of her other features. Viking's service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, is just a stone's throw from the Palm Beach inlet, but a couple of shallow bars can make it a challenge to get into or out of the slip. However, the 88's standard 35-hp hydraulic bow thruster and an optional stern thruster made it a snap. For backing in, there's a docking station in the cockpit and another on the port side of the flying bridge. Sightlines were good (I'm 6'2"), even from the main helm in the pilothouse, offering a clear view of the bow and to either side.

From a standing start, acceleration for the twin 1,825-hp Caterpillar C32As is naturally sedate; this is, after all, an 88-foot motoryacht, not a drag racer. But above about 1600 rpm, things start happening in a rush as she sprints to a top speed of more than 30 mph. Her handling is solid and predictable at all speeds and headings, but she seems to be a spray magnet; in three- to four-footers we took frequent, heavy spray onto the flying bridge. Admittedly, winds of 15 to 20 knots were a factor, but I was nonetheless surprised to get soaked on the bridge of a yacht this size. On the plus side, she's exceptionally quiet; sound readings in the pilothouse were a modest 76 dB-A (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation) at full throttle and were less than 70 dB throughout most of the rpm range.

I was favorably impressed by the Viking Sanlorenzo 88. Achieving a successful collaboration between two large, long-established organizations is no small task, especially with geographic and linguistic hurdles added to the mix. But the Viking-Sanlorenzo venture seems to have been a match made in heaven. I can't wait to see the new 108-footer that's in the works.

For more information on Viking Custom Yachts, including contact information, click here.

This article originally appeared in the February 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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