The Viking 44 Open delivers on so many levels, you’d swear she’s a lot bigger boat.
When Viking decided to beef up the other end of its sportfish boats, it introduced the 37 Billfish and a 42 Open outfitted with pod drives. Seeing an opening for yet another size slot to fill, Patrick Healey, the company’s president, and CEO, along with his design and engineering team, decided on a 44 Open with traditional drives to join the company’s much-admired line-up. But don’t let her size fool you. At 44 feet, she packs in all the horizon-chasing, battlewagon DNA found in her larger sisterships.
“We wanted the 44 Open to appeal to those coming out of the center consoles or new boaters looking for a family-oriented, easy-to-run sportfish that can and will offer comfort, safety, and our Viking performance,” remarked Healey. “She’s even a practical solution for those wishing to downsize as well.” Her sleek and low profile, subtle bow rake and eye-pleasing, gentle sheer all combine with the design of the wraparound windshield as it rises up from the foredeck to present that unmistakable Viking look. However, it is from the bottom up that the real story about this boat begins.
Built at the Mullica, New Jersey facility, a strong, resin-infused hull is a hallmark of a Viking build no matter the size and something the company has continually been developing over their 50+ years in operation. A hull-to-deck joint is utilized and again, is typically found in all its sportfish boats. “A sealed flange joint Is through-bolted and fiberglassed from the inside making the resulting structure extremely strong and watertight,” said General Manager John Leek IV.
Going the Distance
Viking goes the distance to ensure the entire Viking 44 Open is as robust as possible. The stringers are glassed to the hull then the floors are secured to the stringers and glassed to the hull. The bulkheads are also glassed to the floor and then into the hull and deck. “Everything that goes into that boat construction-wise comes together in a very strong, solid structure. It’s not any one thing but a combination of techniques,” Leek noted.
Leek’s statement rang true as no matter where I examined, whether it be door or hatch opening or closing, or underfoot on her decks, her sturdy build was quite evident. In the Awlgrip-finished engine room—accessed via the forward part of the cockpit area—and being a hands-on skipper myself, I found more than ample space around the pair of standard 800-hp MAN I6 diesels to do all critical maintenance checks or work, as well as having an easy reach to all pumps and switches. The dedicated space for the Seakeeper is also located here. In addition, there were some more important construction details to note.
Viking uses an aluminum extrusion, referred to as a saddle, affixed to the stringer creating a full-length engine bed. Getting it right is important, and Leek noted the exact positioning of the vibration isolators and the engine mounts themselves. “Making sure the drive train is aligned and sitting securely on those beds is essential to the smooth, stable ride of the boat,” he said. Other points are her main structural bulkheads with the light resin transfer method utilized on all lids, doors and hatches. In addition, the fuel tanks are infused and built integral to the hull.
Easy Owner Operations
With boats of this size being traditionally owner operated, Viking made sure everything that fits this profile was put aboard making the experience as good as it gets. “From families to a bunch of friends going out for a day or even several days of fishing, we can offer a package complete with everything they would need,” added Healey.
One merely has to step aboard the 119-square-foot cockpit area to know she is built for comfort and safety and ready for action. Along with the requisite in-sole fish boxes, I found a transom livewell and lazarette aft, a deck with deep channels to quickly drain deck water, and dedicated space already supplied for a Seakeeper gyro in the engine room. The mezzanine is set to starboard to accommodate the port-side access to the command deck and provides up close and personal seating for all the fishing action that is sure to happen there.
I particularly liked the centerline helm mounted on a raised platform. Given the large wraparound windshield, with its posts pushed back on either side to create a single, centerpiece of glass, I could see, even at the dock, the great sightlines afforded with the design.
Indeed, when I got to drive her once we were out on the ocean, whether doing hole shots, tight circles and turns, running straight and true, or backing her down hard where I
noted she pirouetted like a prima ballerina—all a testimony to her fine design and engineering—my view into the seaway was just as it should be. And, of course, there is the essential custom tower by Palm Beach Towers, a Viking subsidiary. By the way, this association allows the company to always have direct influence on the design, fit and finish, and quality control. The expert electronics install is courtesy of Viking’s own Atlantic Marine Electronics.
To port of the helm is a built-in console housing a tackle center, refrigerator, and storage locker. Over on the starboard side and aft is a seating area with a table. Access to the living accommodations is also to port, and Viking utilized every square inch of space to provide a livable and comfortable area in which to enjoy the time, whether it be overnight or longer periods after a day of fishing or cruising.
The seating area on the Viking 44 Open has ah a table is to port and a quite comfortable alternative sleeping area for weary fishermen after time spent in the cockpit. Opposite from the full galley is all the counter space and equipment necessary for complete meal preparation. The breaker system for the entire boat is on the aft bulkhead. “Our design means you do not have to go searching for a particular breaker. It’s all here,” remarked Healey.
The generous forepeak quarters, with a shared head to the central room, offer Viking’s attention to detail and excellent fit and finish work, as does the second stateroom located aft and under the command deck. Again, it’s a great space in which to catch some rest from angling action or for the kids to continue their adventures while underway, at anchor or in for the night. Regardless of where I looked, I found more than adequate storage room throughout the boat in which to pack clothing, fishing equipment, and food and drinks for extended time away from the dock.
All of this comes together in a very exciting package once the hull hits the water and she is off to fish or cruise. On my test day, with a rolling sea offshore of Atlantic City, New
Jersey, we were able to put this Viking 44 Open through her paces. I found her to be a nimble, quick-to-react boat, answering the helm with all the attitude of a sports car as interpreted by Viking. She is definitely the kind of Viking ready and willing to take her place in the company’s prestigious line-up of sportfishing boats. Healey is proud to say, “We strive to build a better boat each and every time.”
With the Viking 44 Open, it’s easy to see they’ve done it again.
LOA: 45′ 1″
Beam: 16′ 4″
Draft: 3′ 10″
Gross Weight (Standard Fuel): 49,500 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 845/120 gals.
Power: 2x 800-hp MAN I6 diesels
Cruise/Top Speed: 30/34.5-35 knots (depending on fuel load)
Range at cruise: 345 nm
Price (base): $1,315,000
Contact: Viking Yachts vikingyachts.com or (609) 296-6000
By Ken Kreisler, Southern Boating December 2017