Back To The Future
Viking’s 75 Motor Yacht—a cutting-edge cruiser with the engine room, performance, and soul of a salty convertible sportfisherman.
I was truly intrigued as I crossed the street from my rental car. Viking, a preeminent purveyor of sportfishing convertibles, hadn’t built a motoryacht since the early 2000s, but here, just beyond the entrance of the company’s southernmost outpost—the Viking Yacht Service Center of Riviera Beach, Florida—was what qualified as an exuberant return to the genre: a brand-new 75 Motor Yacht. Would she be anything like the company’s rather angular, convertible-esque motoryachts of yore?
“They’re expectin’ you,” the lady in the guard shack said as I breezed past, heading for a rough and ready pier that sported Vikings of various ages, styles, and sizes, most of them salty convertibles in the midst of refurbishment and smelling sweetly of resin, varnish, and sawdust.
“New motoryacht that way?” I asked a young man sanding a covering board. I could see the transom of what looked like a curvaceous, contemporary megayacht out at the end. Could that possibly be what I was looking for?
“Yup,” he replied, pointing, “That’s her.”
Standing dockside near the 75’s starboard quarter, I saw little of the flat expanses and angularities that had characterized the earlier motoryachts, especially those dating back to Gulfstar’s merger with Viking in late ’80s. Instead, there was a subtly complex amalgam of sleek lines and ethereal curves. Darkened teardrop windows augmented both the saloon level and the lofty enclosed bridge.
I gawked for a moment. High-profile designer (and Power & Motoryacht columnist) Michael Peters had worked closely with Viking’s design team to produce the 75’s styling, as well as her running surface and layout. So while a certain European cachet seemed to predominate, there was a whiff of the modern, dramatically raked, aquiline-nosed Viking convertible in evidence as well.
“Come on aboard,” said Bob Burke, Viking’s Motor Yacht sales manager. He was standing on an immense swim platform (actuated by Opacmare hydraulics) crisply coated with teak. Behind him were two stairways, port and starboard, leading up to an expansive aft deck and, between them, a big, centrally located, pantograph-style, Opacmare-hinged transom door, swung open invitingly.
“Wow, Bob,” I said, “Looks like you got yourself a megayacht here.”
We began our dockside tour with the engine room, which we accessed via the aforementioned door and a short, walnut-paneled companionway through the crew’s quarters, with a double-berth captain’s stateroom to starboard and a bunk-type stateroom (as well as a head with separate shower stall) to port.
“Lovely,” I said upon going in.
As a standard feature, Viking Yachts installs a hydraulic (as opposed to electric) bow thruster on its new 75 Motor Yacht. Hydraulic thrusters make loads of sense in this size range, of course. They tend to be quite powerful and can run for hours, literally, without timing out the way an overheated electric thruster might. At any rate, besides offering oodles of long-lasting oomph, the standard hydraulic bow thruster on the 75 does something else—it nicely facilitates the installation of Caterpillar’s CAT Three60 joystick control system. Our test boat, for example, was powered by a couple of 1,925-horsepower Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels, each fitted with a Twin Disk QuickShift tranny. Combine the hydraulic thruster—a requisite of the Three60 system—with such a powerplant and, with a little black-box computer action thrown in, you’ve got exceptionally positive joystick docking control without the turbulence and drama of pod propulsion. A pretty good deal? Yup, especially when you consider that Viking offers the Three60 option on the 75 for just $51,000 or about $19,000 off the normal price, which includes an upcharge for a hydraulic thruster and its installation.
Redundancy, Redundancy, Redundancy
The auxiliary power system got my attention first. Rather than just one, there were two standard-issue, shock-mounted, 29-kW QD (Quiet Diesel) Onan generators, one on either side of the ER’s entryway. Anyone who’s run a boat hard and long knows it’s way better to have two equally rated gensets on hand than just one, potentially overworked unit. And too, the coolant recovery reservoir and Racor FG500 fuel-water separator for each genset were savvily mounted on the inboard ends of their soundboxes—great for maintaining solid, walk-by situational awareness.
I checked out the crash pumps next. They were under a hatch in the wide, rubberized-diamond-plate-paved central walkway, all the way forward. And again, there were two for the same reason there were two gensets—when it comes to critical components on a boat, more is better. As I studied the installation’s white-Awlgripped runs and fittings, an especially nifty detail surfaced. While, as with most applications of this sort, the pickup for each pump was controlled by a primary lever-actuated butterfly valve, there was a gate valve (painted bright red for fast, emergency identification) upstream of the butterfly. Why? The gate valve is more precisely adjustable and efficient, particularly when the chips are down—more to the point, it will not obfuscate suction with a disc in the flow stream and is seriously resistant to locking up due to lack of use.
Viking’s proprietary Oil Transfer System was another exemplary feature I zeroed in on. Located beneath a second walkway hatch, it allows for the changing of vital fluids in the mains, gensets, and gears at the flip of a switch. But here’s what was really cool—believe it or not, the manifold that accomplishes all this sweetness and light has just three ball-valve levers, in addition, of course, to a switch (with a red, mistake-preventing protective cover) and a quick-connect fitting for securing transfer hoses. Elegant, simple, and (thanks to a duplicate setup in the cockpit) super-convenient.
And finally, one last detail topped off what I now saw as the major theme in the 75’s ER—redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. Not only was there plenty of headroom over the molded-fiberglass fuel tanks outboard of the mains, a scenario that disencumbers withdrawing electronic fuel-level senders for repair or replacement, there was also a heavy bronze fitting atop each tank containing a metal measuring tape, with an inches-to-gallons conversion table close by. Problems with an electronic sender? Use the tape instead!
Suites and Delights
While checking out the 75’s interior, I found two spots I felt especially simpatico with. One manifested on the main deck which, by the way, offers an ample saloon aft, a dinette and lounging area up forward, and a U-shaped galley (to port), a dayhead (to starboard), and an amidships dining area (with table and chairs for six) in between.
“Try sitting over there, Bill,” said Burke as I studied the glamorous intricacies of an optional Miele espresso machine in the galley. Burke pointed at a stretch of lounge over on the port side of the dinette area, outboard of a high-gloss-walnut table. “It’s the place to kick back on this boat—I’m tellin’ ya.”
I slid in, eased back, extended my legs, glanced to the left (through the teardrop window), glanced ahead (through the windshield), and promptly began imagining what it might be like reading a book or snoozing in this groovy little venue while the 75 made her way to a blue-green anchorage in the Berry Islands, say, or up to Newport. “You got a point,” I agreed.
After finishing with the bottom deck of the 75, with its four, large en suite staterooms—a VIP forward; a secondary VIP (with twin berths) abaft it and to port; a double guest also abaft but to starboard; and a full-beam master all the way aft—the second simpatico spot manifested: the Stidd helm chair on the optional enclosed flying bridge.
One Sweet Ride
Driving the 75 Motor Yacht felt like driving one of Viking’s big, bodacious battlewagons. When I headed ’er up-sea in the open Atlantic in 6- to 8-footers, the ride felt rockin’-chair comfy, the windshield remained bone-dry, running attitudes held at 4 degrees or less, and sightlines stayed superb.
Speeds were impressive, too. Despite the sporty conditions, I recorded an average top hop of 34.6 knots and an average cruise velocity (with 20-percent tab deployed going up-sea and the optional Seakeeper 26 gyrostabilizer activated) of 29.9 knots.
Going downhill was the kick, though. With a motley crowd of white-topped bruisers busting behind us, the boat ran like a scared rabbit, with unswerving directionality. I’m guessing a good bit of deadrise in the bottom (16 degrees or thereabouts at the transom, according to Peters) was probably responsible for this behavior, along with fuller, steadier bow sections, and some very emphatic running strakes. Peters contends, incidentally, that well-designed tunnels also play a part—they resist or reduce lateral movement at the stern, he says, sort of like feathers on an arrow.
And hey, the act of simply steering the boat was a hoot, thanks to Viking’s proprietary, tiebar-less VIPER steering system, which lets each rudder operate independently via sophisticated electro-hydraulics. “Man,” I yelled after wheeling a tight, hard-over turn to port, and then wheeling another to starboard, “I swear—this thing’s got a turning diameter of two boat lengths, maybe less!”
But what really took the wringout of the 75 into the top hamper was the way she handled dockside. On our way back to the barn, despite heavy traffic around Cracker Boy Boat Works, we pulled in close to try out our optional CAT Three60 control system, which uses the 75’s standard hydraulic thruster, a couple of Twin Disc QuickShift transmissions, and a computer-linked joystick to pull pod-type maneuverability from the boat’s straight-shot inboard propulsion package.
Talk about! Although past experience with joystick QuickShifts tells me that adding a hydraulic stern thruster to the 75’s repertoire would strengthen her Three60 responsiveness, I gotta say—our test boat walked sideways like a champ, spun within her own length with ease, and held station accurately, all while maintaining steady revs and only faintly disturbing the water around her.
“I can tell precisely where my stern’s going,” I chortled, while using one of two joystick stations in the cockpit to back down, “and then look over my shoulder and see where my bow is—this is great!”
“And obviously fun, too,” Burke chimed in with a grin. Yeah, buddy!
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Noteworthy Options: Seakeeper 26 gyrostabilizer ($180,000); engine upgrade to Caterpillar C32s ($375,000); enclosed flying bridge ($259,000); marine electronics ($185,618); opening hardtop roof with glass panel ($35,675); Cat Three60 Control System ($51,000, with thruster credit); Cruisair air-conditioning in aft-deck lounge back ($22,240)
Generator: 2/32-kW Onan, Warranty: 1-year warranty on entire vessel and 5-year warranty on hull
Load During Boat Test
1,200 gal. fuel, 250 gal. water, 3 persons, 200 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,925-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels
- Transmission/Ratio: Twin Disc 6599A; 2.48:1 ratio
- Props: Veem (details proprietary)
- Price as Tested: $6,746,348
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.