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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

VIking 60

The wind may have been blowing 25-plus, but the 60 feet of battlewagon beneath my feet easily beat down the blowhard wind, and the four- to six-foot seas topped with a seething chop. This latest bluewater machine from New Gretna, New Jersey's, Viking Yachts made a true 27 knots (31 mph) without so much as a hiccup.

I've had the opportunity to crew on five different Viking models—from 35 to 61 feet—and I've always been impressed with the ride in following and quartering seas. Their gentle roll motion on the drift has been solid, too. In the past, though, I've thought that the head-sea ride could stand to be drier.

My test boat was the same as her predecessors in that she offered a slicing and smooth ride into the building seas, but she was also dry. Very dry. And throughout the entire run offshore, just a hint of wind-blown spray made it to the bottom corners of the optional EZ2CY enclosure.

The 60's impressive running nature can be attributed to a new hull design, which offers more convex sections in the forward third and latter half of the hull bottom—a change that started with Viking's 68 Convertible. Where the convex sections aid in her head-sea ride, the flatter aft section (the builder took out three degrees of transom deadrise, so the 60 sits right at 12 degrees) helps with lift, time to plane, and overall speed and efficiency. And, of course, that gentle drift motion.

The dry ride is also helped by increased freeboard from bow to stern. All the way forward my test boat offered about seven feet of freeboard—more than previous boats from this builder, in fact, says Viking's company captain Ryan Higgins. All the way aft, freeboard is about two and a half feet: plenty of height to keep water out, but short enough to make for an easy tag or gaff shot when money's on the line.

During my wheel time, I plowed her head first into the seas. The 60 punched through without a shudder or slow down. While taking her straight downsea and running in an aft-quartering sea, I noted that the vessel maintained her steadfast nature with minor tab input. The tab controls are under the Palm Beach-style console, and while the setup works, I prefer them to be where I can see them. SeaStar power-assisted steering enabled me to run the boat as if she was a runabout, with real-time, hard-over turns. The 60 didn't heel excessively or fight the wheel; she was mannerly and obedient at all times.

The only way I managed to get water in the 60 was when I purposely backed down both downsea and upsea. While trying to turn the cockpit into a swimming pool, I noticed the inset scuppers in the optional teak cockpit sole quickly evacuated the water coming onto the deck. I couldn't even get the water close to the standard mezzanine. This is a great attribute for hard-core tournament anglers who need to quickly chase down point-precious fish. Or maybe even go after that grander blue marlin before he dumps your 130-pound-class reel.

Competitive anglers will also enjoy the 60's all-out speed. Our boat managed a confident 31 mph in the slop, but when I had the chance to take her to some calmer water, the optional twin 1,825-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs propelled her to an average top speed of 48.2 mph. She effortlessly cruised at 41.4 mph. I think a lot of competing tourney boats will get a great view of this boat's transom when the gun goes off this season.

She's built not only for speed, but also for blue water, with a hull structure that's fully cored and vacuum-bagged and features Baltek end-grain balsa sandwiched between fiberglass skins. Viking chose this material for its high sheer strength; lower-density balsa coring is used for the hull sides and topsides, with Baltek foam sandwiched between the bulkheads. But even by taking advantage of high-strength, lightweight materials, the 60 is a beefy 91,300 pounds (approximately) with a standard load of 1,620 gallons of diesel.

For adventurous anglers who may want or need more range, there's an option for 1,920 total gallons. My test boat had the standard fuel option, with which she recorded a 558-statute-mile range at her swift 41.4-mph cruise speed.

The 60's long range and speedy nature are rivaled only by her racy appearance, which like the running surface is new. Instead of the side windows sweeping back and then angling slightly down as they taper aft of the house, the new look provides a gentle upsweep at the aft end, which tracks the streaking sheerline.

And while she'll look great running and fishing, the 60 offers more. She boasts 170 square feet of cockpit space (with mezzanine seating); bait stowage under that mezzanine for a season's worth of 'hoo, complete with customized Viking-logo bait trays; 14-cubic-foot in-deck livewell with macerator; two more in-deck stowage wells, which can be converted to livewells; and more.

The 60 also has smart features like the switch that lets you transfer fuel forward or aft to adjust trim and help negotiate shallow water; three separate pump areas in the engine room to make more usable floor space; and the touch-screen monitor that controls all ship's systems from the flying bridge. When you add this with the ability to customize almost any other feature onboard, including four below-deck layout options, you have a vessel that I say is one of the best in her class.

By the end of my test day, the wind had picked up even more to a full-on small-craft warning, and the seas offshore looked tighter and even more mean-spirited. You might not want to head out on a day like this, but the Viking 60 was bred and built to get you out and back just in case you do.

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

When your boat loads up with gear or moves to a different climate, a prop adjustment is sometimes needed to keep her engines at their proper rpm. Veem has come up with a way to do that by adjusting the pitch in your boat's wheels without permanently modifying them.

Interceptor technology is comprised of nine color-coded (for size) polymer inserts that are interference-fit into a groove in your boat's props, effectively adding pitch. My test vessel had them, and the boat's Caterpillar diesels turned their rated 2300 rpm spot-on.

If something changes and your props need more or less pitch, the old Interceptors pop right out to allow new ones to be inserted.—P.S.

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

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