Pat Healey, President and CEO of Viking Yachts, is famously said to have been wary of building center consoles, explaining away his patience as “waiting for the right time.” Well, apparently the timing couldn’t be better. Today’s unveiling of the V-55—not just the largest center console Valhalla Boatworks has ever built, but one of the largest on the market period—is very much like lobbing a 50,000-pound explosive into the center console market. The fallout will be of seismic proportions.
“There will be nothing like it,” said Healey, who broke the news at an exclusive VIP event at Viking’s Yacht Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. “We’re setting a new standard by bringing together the qualities of a large center console and a luxury sportfishing yacht.”
That standard has been increasingly upped since 2019, when Viking subsidiary Valhalla Boatworks burst onto the scene with three high-performance models: the V-33, V-37 and V-41. The V-46 followed 18 months later, adding a cabin, galley and a full head with a shower to an already stacked offering. When the orders came streaming in, Viking knew they had struck a nerve with their traditional sportfishing clientele, guys who are nowadays demanding center consoles as a secondary (or primary) vessel.
If the first three Valhalla models at the onset amounted to a “toe dip” into hitherto unexplored waters, the V-55 is nothing less than a planted flag in the market, one that boldly declares: “Get used to us, because we aren’t going anywhere.” Viking foresees the V-55 being used in a variety of ways: as an offshore tournament contender, high-performance sport yacht, fish-and-cruise express or, ahem, tender. Quadruple or quint Mercury 7.6-liter V12 600-hp Verado outboards will power the new Valhalla. “The boat was designed and engineered for these engines,” said Viking Vice President of Design and Engineering Lonni Rutt. “We developed a transom and structure to support the weight and horsepower. We prepared for—and are working with—the technology rather than adapting to it.”
With that power output, you’re going to burn some serious dinosaur juice. Ever the forward-thinkers, Rutt and the engineering team have managed to design a 1,200-gallon fuel tank. (That size is common on Viking’s mid-size convertibles.) They’ve also engineered an electrically operated fuel management system that will allow each engine to draw from designated fuel tanks.
The V-55 will ride on the same Michael Peters-designed double-stepped, deep-V running surface as its progenitors. The stringer grid has been engineered for the installation of a Seakeeper 9 and is accessible through a watertight cockpit hatch. Viking is claiming the V-55 will be the largest resin-infused center console of its kind. While that claim is probably true, it’s obviously difficult to substantiate for a number of reasons. The beam, however, is a different story. As it stands at 15 feet, 6 inches, the V-55 has seemingly more beam than any other center console on the market in the 50 to 60 foot range. By my calculation, the closest heavy-weight contender is the Midnight Express 60, which comes in half a foot shy.
A wider beam translates to different advantages, both on deck and in the cabin. Dual 65-gallon livewells anchor an immense cockpit, with a lazarette that includes fuel filters; bilge pumps and switches, livewell and fish box pumps; livewell manifolds; a Hooker Sea Chest System; the freshwater engine flush and other components.
When reviewing the V-46, my colleague Charlie Levine described it as being able to carry enough people to field a baseball team. Well, the V-55 looks like it can carry the Los Angles Rams defensive unit. The initial renderings show an eye-popping nine (!) forward-facing chairs (with armrests and flip-up bolsters) in two rows under the hardtop. The fiberglass seating modules sit on a raised teak-clad platform for increased visibility; the aft unit includes a four-person aft-facing mezzanine seat with refrigeration underneath and a grill (starboard) and sink (port). The center of the backrest folds down to reveal tackle storage with Plano boxes and a large drawer. Rod holders and cupholders line the top of the module.
The benefits of the increased beam continue in the accommodations below, which are accessed by a companionway that leads to the cabin. Its location—on the console’s starboard aft end—and its sliding door will be similar to a Viking express sportfish, providing easy access and the ability to run safely with the door open or closed. The cabin boasts 6 feet, 10 inches of headroom and is appointed with a galley to starboard and an L-shaped lounge on the port side with a drop-down dinette table that can convert into a berth. The forward area is dedicated to the private stateroom with a raised walk-around queen (with storage underneath); port-side en suite head with vanity and sink; and separate enclosed shower on the stateroom’s starboard side. (The head is also accessed from the cabin.) Moving aft, there’s a bunk area with a pair of single berths, each 6 feet, 3 inches long.
At the helm, a recessed black acrylic dash is home to three large MFDs, with a row of Bocatech switches beneath. The V-55 comes standard with the Zipwake Dynamic Trim-Control System. The Edson steering wheel is mounted on a custom faux teak or solid teak helm pod, with the engine controls and optional joystick to starboard.
As with the V-46, the V-55 has a large, designated dry space for mechanical and electrical components—what Viking is calling a “machinery room.” Accessed through an aft bulkhead door in the bunk area, the machinery room contains the batteries and battery chargers, fire and ventilation systems, hot water heater, electrical distribution panel, generator with a 50-gallon diesel tank, access to the electronics and fuel management systems. A 15-kW genset is standard to ensure ample power for air conditioning, refrigeration and the Seakeeper.
“We’re providing all the strengths of our Valhalla design—everything from the style and aesthetics to the ride quality and fishability—in a center console large enough to accommodate a private stateroom, head with separate shower and overnighting space for additional crew,” said Viking Design Manager David Wilson. “We wanted to give our owners the ability to spend more time on board with family and friends—to go farther, stay longer and bring along more guests.”
The brief that Wilson is alluding to has been met, and then some. Large walkaround decks should provide plenty of room to move about the boat while hooked up with an epic bite, and future owners will be able to affix the tuna towers of another Viking subsidiary, Palm Beach Towers, to that end—not to mention the requisite array of rod holders and tackle storage. However, maybe the best part is, we won’t even have to wait long to catch a glimpse of this outrageously large offering, as construction will reportedly begin this summer. Look for the first V-55 to make its world premiere in the fall at the 2022 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The V-55 is many things, but most of all, it amounts to a gauntlet being thrown. In the coming months, after the tsunami surrounding this news has retracted slightly, we’ll see if any builder is interested in going toe-to-toe with the New Jersey leviathan.
Valhalla 55 Specifications:
Displ.: 49,873 lbs. (full load)
Fuel: 1,200 gal.
Water: 125 gal.
Power: 4/600-hp V12 Mercury Verado outboards; 5/600-hp V12 Mercury Verado outboards