During the past 20-plus years, I’ve reviewed many of the sport-fishermen that have slipped down the ways at the Viking facility in New Gretna, New Jersey. I have even been on the production line of some of those very boats. I reported on the advances in technology and building techniques that have allowed Viking CEO Patrick Healey and his designers, technicians, workers, installers, captains, and sales and support staff to live up to the Viking mantra: building a better boat every day. Proving the point anew is the builder’s Viking 80C.
To be sure, there’s beauty in this beast, and it is obvious to the eye and the senses as she comes into view. She bears all the hallmarks of her 92 Enclosed Bridge big sister, starting with a wonderfully symmetrical profile topped off by a skyscraper-like tower, built by Viking’s own Palm Beach Towers.
Immediately noticeable are her sharp entry, proud bow and foredeck, well-proportioned house, striking black mask, low-slung 216-square-foot cockpit and curved transom with eye-catching tumblehome in the corners. “One of the things we do on all our boats, right up through the 92, is to figure out how best to use the space by looking at the previous one,” says Ryan Higgins, Viking’s corporate captain. That philosophy leads to constant evolution in aspects such as cockpit ergonomics, interior stowage and especially engine-room layout.
This yacht’s engine room is well laid out, even with the big, optional, 2,635 hp MTU 16V 2000 M96L diesels that were installed on our test boat. (Twin 1,915 hp Cat C32 ACERTs are standard.) Plenty of headroom (6 feet 4 inches on centerline), total access to all maintenance areas and equipment, refrigerator-white Awlgrip finish and places for all the redundant systems (including a pair of 29 kW Onan gensets and two centralized sea-water pumps) are just some of the features found here. “It comes from all the members of our design teams actually getting out on the boats and using them as they are meant to be used,” Higgins says.
It might seem like a small point, but I noticed that the sitting height on the lower mezzanine gives the crew perfect sight lines aft, to either side or while right behind the burly Release Marine fighting chair. A forward-facing curve on the mezzanine’s edge provides a bit more space behind the chair too.
The business end of the 80C has stowage under each gunwale together with an oil X-Change-R system with quick connects, drop-in deck boxes, a dedicated compartment for a Seakeeper 26 gyro, transom and in-sole livewells, Eskimo shaved-ice makers, chill boxes, four stainless-steel bait trays, a refrigerated step box and an upper mezzanine bench with more stowage underneath. And yes, the mezzanine is air-conditioned from above.
“Laying out these bigger boats has become more and more custom for us,” Higgins says. “With this boat, and the 92, each one is different. And as long as the synergy between the owner and the factory is planned well in advance, there is enough leeway to accommodate their needs.”
The interior layout is given equal weight, with the portside galley forward, turned stern-to-bow instead of the usual athwartships position. Past the starboard dinette — with its rod stowage drawer below — and down the stairs, a companionway leads to the staterooms. “We introduced this layout on the 92, and it went over so well that we decided to offer it here,” Higgins says.
The salon has a C-shaped sofa to port with stowage below each section, as well as space for three guests to stretch out on a long run. Just as I entered the electric sliding door from the cockpit, there was a day-head to starboard. (On the 80 Enclosed Bridge model, the head will move forward of the dinette.) This part of the salon also has a stowage console with a 60-inch TV.
“As far as A/V equipment, we’re running a [universal remote control] system from any remote in whichever stateroom you are in,” Higgins says. “You can pull up navigation equipment, plotters, sounders, radar and cameras, as well as controlling all the lighting and the Sirius radio and weather.” In addition, the 80C has Dometic’s new Smart Touch Integrated Intelligence Control system, allowing onboard or off-site smartphone or tablet control of the watermaker, refrigeration, air conditioning and any other Dometic component.
The space just forward of the galley has a bunk room, which can be an office, extra pantry or rod and tackle stowage. “Hull No. 4 put a full-size, side-by-side washer and dryer in here, with lots of shelving space,” Higgins says.
A five-stateroom, five-head layout belowdecks includes a full-beam master, a queen-berth VIP forward to port, a pair of bunk staterooms to starboard and, fully forward, a forepeak stateroom. All are spacious, with headroom averaging between 6 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 7 inches, plus all the stowage needed for extended time away from home.
Topsides, the bridge is well laid out, with clean sight lines forward and aft. Because of an elevated helm platform, views of the bow are unobstructed, even while guests are gathered in the seating area.
The helm itself is big enough to hold an array of displays under a glass cover. Many operations are controlled by easy-to-reach, soft-touch buttons, all within an arm’s length to either side. The Dometic STIIC touchscreen and the Carling Technologies OctoPlex system, which controls all the breakers on the boat, are readily accessible, along with management of the FLIR cameras, Viking VIPER independent rudder steering system, Seakeeper gyro, fire systems and more.
“I can control just about every system on the boat from here,” Higgins says. And, as with everywhere aboard the 80C, this space has plenty of stowage, along with refrigerated drink boxes and freezers.
I finished my tour and Higgins hit the starters. It was time to leave the dock from the Viking Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. Underway, the 80C delivered pure Viking excitement and performance.
Thanks to weight-saving techniques throughout the boat — including a Kevlar-infused hull, carbon-fiber laminate in the deckhouse and hardtop, and a smoother running bottom with strut cones and many of the pickups flush-mounted — this 145,461-pound battlewagon moved through the water at 41-plus knots at her top end, with a comfortable 2,100 rpm cruise of 35.2 knots. She carved precise turns at those 35-knot speeds and backed down with nimbleness, assurance and control as the electric tabs automatically retracted. I had the feeling of hitting the throttles and letting raw power take over as she jumped out of the hole. Once you get your hands on the wheel, it’s hard to let go.
As a portent of positive things to come, and alongside some hefty weed lines, we sighted no fewer than three large baitballs breaking on top and a slew of cutting sailfish rounding up their food. They were sure signs the future is bright for the Viking 80C.