Viking Sport Cruisers 67
Déjà vu was the feeling I got touring the new Viking Sport Cruisers 67 Motor Yacht. When I wrote about the first Sport Cruisers 10 years ago I suggested that the melding of a stylish European marque and a proven American nameplate was worthy of close attention. American yachtsmen not only listened, they voted with their checkbooks. Once again, the Sport Cruisers team has created a winner.
I caught up with the 67 at Viking’s service center in Riviera Beach, Florida. Like other Sport Cruisers designs her beauty is more than skin deep. With the Viking nameplate comes the company’s well-known commitment to supporting its products. “Our Sport Cruisers line appeals to American yachtsmen who like the look and performance of European yachts but are uncomfortable investing in an unfamiliar brand,” said James Nobel, sales manager for Sport Cruisers. Viking’s investment in Riviera Beach reflects this focus. “The majority of our owners either live in South Florida or visit the area aboard their yachts during the winter months,” said Nobel.
Nobel recently moved to South Florida to open an on-site sales center dedicated to the Sport Cruisers line. He was putting the finishing touches on the cherry- and leather-clad offices when I arrived. All of these trimmings and the new 67 are a result of the now-proven relationship between Viking Yachts and Princess Yachts International of Plymouth, England. While Viking has built motoryachts in the U.S. in the past, its successful convertible line has consumed its efforts in recent years so partnering with the English builder made sense. “While we cater to different markets, Princess and Viking are a good match in terms of company structure and philosophy,” said Nobel.
In terms of design, the 67 has little in common with Viking’s homegrown fare. While I dislike the term “Euro-style,” she follows popular trends commonly expressed in this genre. Her swept-back, low-profile look suggests speed and performance. Her rich cherry joinerwork and high quality soft goods and hardware suggest sophistication. She could easily be confused with an Italian build; however, after years of poking about European boats, to my eye her citizenship is unmistakable. Italians build cars and boats with their hearts while the English tend to be, well, more practical. Translation? It appears to me that the 67’s design was thought out down to the last screw before her production began. The fitted tableware storage, user-friendly drawer stowage beneath the sofa and the washer/dryer positioned strategically next to the linen locker are no accident. It seems every detail of cruising life has been considered.
While her styling is a primary selling point, it is the 67’s comfort and livability that impressed me the most. With full side decks and both interior and exterior bridge access she is easy to move about and could be handled by a capable couple. Her bridge has a full helm station as well as a lounge area with a refrigerator and a barbecue grill. Her leather-wrapped interior helm station seats two and a pantograph-style door allows easy deck access so the skipper can assist with line handling. A saloon area has an entertainment center with a 30-inch flat-panel TV, a wet bar and refrigerator. The galley has upright refrigeration, a cook top, a microwave-convection oven and a dishwasher. A raised dinette is an arm’s length away. A glass and stainless steel bulkhead opens to the afterdeck and the galley is segregated by a clear bulkhead that becomes opaque (electrically) with the push of a button. The result is a pleasant, uncluttered layout and virtually a 360-degree view of the natural world. TDI Designs is available to its Sport Cruisers customers and a generous interior allowance is provided.
Belowdecks, the 67 has a full-beam master suite with an island berth, a seating area and a vanity. The master head is of course available with a bidet (very European) and the enclosed shower can accommodate a large adult (very American). The forward VIP stateroom has an island berth and a private head. The guest stateroom has two single berths and private access to a third head. In European fashion, the 67’s crew’s quarters are in the lazarette area; Nobel suggested that most customers will likely run without crew and assign the cabin to their kids or use the area for storage.
The 67 is built to Viking’s specification for the American market. There is, of course, 60-cycle electrical service; most mechanical components and appliances are familiar brands. Any components used in the 67’s construction that are not common on our shores are stocked by Viking in the U.S. “The goal is to reduce the service issues that are sometimes associated with boats of foreign manufacture,” said Nobel. Fuel shut-offs and manual pulls for the automatic fire extinguishing system are labeled boldly and grouped together with a manual bilge pump that is plumbed to three compartments and fitted with a selector valve.
Hatches on the teak afterdeck allow access to the engineroom and the separate machinery compartment. There is space to service the engines on centerline. A 21.5 kW Onan generator in a sound shield resides in the machinery compartment aft. The hull bottom is solid fiberglass and the hullsides, decks and superstructure are stiffened with closed-cell foam coring. Unlike some European builders who rely on subcontractors, Princess builds virtually the entire boat, including metal work, wiring and joinerwork, on-site. Unlike some U.S. builders that take an assembly-line approach, a team of craftsmen builds each boat from start to finish. The result is very English-neat and tidy.
One thing Viking’s Sport Cruisers and convertible customers have in common is a thirst for performance. The 67’s deep forward sections and 19-degree transom deadrise should satisfy this requirement. While our day at sea was pleasant, my sense is that the 67 is as capable in more challenging conditions as I have found her sisters. Viking’s test data on the 67 equipped with the 1,015 hp C18 Caterpillars, indicates a maximum speed of 30.8 knots and a cruising speed of 24.5 knots at 2000 rpm. Viking suggests a range of 293 nautical miles is possible at cruising speed. I found the 67 remarkably responsive. She accelerates evenly and cuts a tight turn with an easy hand.
While the 67 rekindled memories of the first Sport Cruisers offering I reviewed years ago, she is far more refined. Yes, she is better suited to the American market, but it’s more than that-her design makes sense on both sides of the Atlantic. “Our relationship with Princess has matured with mutual respect,” said Nobel. Indeed, the cross-pond cross-pollination has worked splendidly.
Contact: Viking Sport Cruisers, (609) 296-6000; www.vikingsportcruisers.com.