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Viking Yachts Turns 50

Back in May, we caught up with Pete Frederiksen, director of communications for Viking Yachts, to talk about the company’s 50th anniversary, and what the New Jersey powerhouse has in store for the future.

PMY: How is Viking celebrating 50 years of building boats?
Frederiksen: Well, we planned a whole series of events for the year. We started it out with a little cake ceremony in our lunch room on April 1, which was the actual date of the anniversary, and the following day we headed to Florida and hosted the Viking Yachts Key West Challenge, which was a fishing tournament that we invited all of the Viking owners to attend. We’d never put a tournament together, so we were like, “Well, I hope we’ve got this figured out.” It turned out we had 41 boats come and almost 400 people. The tournament was such a success that even before Patrick [Healey] began the awards banquet on Saturday night he announced the dates of next year’s tournament. So we’re already looking forward to that event. The next thing that we have coming up is our dealer meeting in September. That’s in Atlantic City and to make it kind of special we’re also introducing three new models—the 92 Enclosed Bridge Convertible, the 75 Motoryacht, and a 52 Open/Sport Tower.

The Viking 92 EB

PMY: Three new models for September, sounds like you guys are pretty busy.
Frederiksen: We’re having a pretty good year. We had good luck at the boat shows, and the factory is humming. We have four production lines running and we hope to open up a fifth line in maybe six to eight months because we’re accumulating a backlog again of boats to build.

PMY: That’s a good problem to have. Tell me about the 75 Motoryacht.
Frederiksen: It’s going to be like a return to the motoryacht business for us. Viking used to build motoryachts, and then Viking got out of the motoryachts, that was before I got here actually. [Viking] Sport Cruisers built some motoryachts but they were more European style as opposed to American style so we’re building a motoryacht that’s going to be contemporary looking, but it’s going to be able to perform. We have people that want us to build a motoryacht and we’re finally coming around and we’re doing it, we’re hoping that this boat proves to be a popular return for us.

PMY: In the 50 years that the company has been building boats how many hulls has Viking launched?
Frederiksen: I want to say it’s somewhere in the vicinity of 4,600. The records were kind of murky in the early days but as near as I can tell based on what numbers we do have here it’s probably around 4,600. And that would be anywhere from 33 feet up to our 82. Viking’s first fiberglass boat was built in 1971 and that was a 33-footer, the smallest boat that Viking built. The size of the enclosed bridge on the 92 is 37 feet. So that means that the bridge on that boat is actually larger than the entire first fiberglass boat we built. That’s pretty cool. And I think the deck on the 92 weighs something like 20,000 pounds and that’s the same weight of a 35-foot Viking in the old days.

PMY: As you head toward the next 50 years, what’s the plan?
Frederiksen: We’re going to take advantage of new engines and new materials. I think we have the design down pat, but we’re always looking at different materials to make things better. That’s why it’s never boring around here—everyone is trying to do the next thing. And it just ramps you up to want to come in and do new stuff. That’s what the company is all about and that’s what the company wants to do. And when we did this tournament in Key West we weren’t sure if people were going to show up, but these boats, they filled up 5 marinas. And I don’t think Key West was ready for that, the enthusiastic Viking owner. They’re more into waiting for the guy with no shoes to come in looking for some free water.

PMY: Duval Street must have been hopping.
Frederiksen: It was crazy. But those are the Viking customers. And that’s why we’re excited. It’s shaping up to be a good year.