By Kevin Koenig
- Builder: Viking
- Model: Viking 52
- Year: 2013
- Boat Type: Sportfisherman
- LOA: 53’2″
- Beam: 17’6″
- Draft: 4’11”
Seeking enough speed to go toe to toe with custom Carolina boats? Then you’d be wise to check out the Viking 52, which we tested one gusty day off Cape May, New Jersey.
As any seasoned boat tester will tell you, test-day conditions make all the difference. While most boaters recite “red sky at night …” and hope for glassy conditions, we testers are more or less keeping our fingers crossed for the exact opposite. The day I took the Viking 52 off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey, the winds were gusting up to 30 knots, the rain came in fits, and the seas were a mishmash of 4- to 6-foot peaks. So far so good.
The 52 Convertible is meant as an entry point into the class of serious tournament fishing boats. But she’s on the low end of the size that many tournament captains would be comfortable taking to the grounds where the biggest fish roam—kind of a nonstarter for the competitive anglers that are interested in these sportfishing boats. As such, she’d need to incorporate enough onboard space, slow-speed maneuverability, and high speed giddyup to earn a spot at the table.
Before I even stepped aboard the 52 I knew one thing to be true: Woe be unto the billfish that attacks a bait trolled behind her. She’s already won the Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational, and looks to have more victories coming her way. Video from the Beach Haven tournament, held off Long Beach Island, New Jersey, shows the boat backing down on what will become the tournament-winning blue marlin. In the video—which a friend who had been part of the crew sent me before the test (you can watch it here ➤) there is more than a little water toppling over the transom into the cockpit. I asked the Viking captain about this observation before we shoved off, and he assured me that the extra water in the cockpit was his fault, not the boat’s. He said he had gotten overly excited about the big (and potentially valuable) fish and backed down too hard, too fast. So obviously, I had to look into the boat’s slow-speed maneuverability once we got outside of the Cape May Inlet. What I found was that in reverse, even in that wind and bouncy chop, she performed quite well, with the cockpit staying about as dry as it could, all things considered. What’s more, once you split ’em, the boat spins like a top—so fast it was a little bit disorienting, and I mean that as a compliment.
At speed out in the Atlantic, the boat shrugged off the waves surely and steadily at about a 27-knot pace. And on the way back in from the churning ocean we found a small, sheltered straightaway and dropped the hammer. The Viking’s twin 1,400-horsepower MANs conspired to rocket her over the flats at 43.5 knots, (with some aid from the current). The boat has a nifty 30- to 35-knot cruise between 1800 and 2100 rpm in similar conditions, as well. Those speeds are attributable to a few different things; the big optional MAN V12s obviously (1,000-horsepower MAN V8s are standard), but also a relatively light dry weight of around 60,000 pounds with the V12s (the 70,280 pound number in the specs reflects fuel, gear, and other considerations). Add in recessed strut bases that are covered with slick fiberglass panels for better water flow, and a proprietary screw setup that bites like a Doberman, and there you go: A 40-knot fish boat.
Viking has ensured light, strong, and bubble-free hulls by infusing vinylester resins into all of its builds since 2010. (Parts of the bridge, fuel tanks, and other pieces remain infused with polyester resins.) Kevlar and hybrid laminates aid in producing the boat’s aforementioned light weight, and also provide further ruggedness. A slippery running surface is highlighted by a fine entry and a transom that has been widened by 8 inches, and flattened from 15 degrees to 12 degrees of deadrise over the 52 model that debuted in 2002. The result of the evolution in transom deadrise is better lift and acceleration, while the steep entry and loads of freeboard take care of Mother Nature.
My test boat also had a beefy tuna tower from Viking subsidiary Palm Beach Towers that looked to be an ideal spot for spying game fish in the spread. The engine room was painted white for easy leak spotting, had plenty of room to starboard to access the batteries, and had an easily reachable Airmar transducer that was built into the hull on centerline. Duplex fuel-water separators were forward and were also easy to access, as were the distribution panels for the electrical systems, which were positioned against the aft bulkhead. It was quite an engine room, befitting of a boat of this price. My only gripe was that due to a raised walkway between the mains (with seawater pumps and other paraphernalia underneath), headroom in the middle section of the ER underneath the saloon was relatively tight at 3 feet 10 inches.
Besides that one, minor critique, Viking really did manage to pack a laudable amount of space into a 52 foot 2 inch boat. As I mentioned, that’s a size some serious anglers will balk at because they usually want a bit more onboard room for extended trips, but that shouldn’t be a problem for this boat.
The cockpit has 145 square feet, more than enough for a crew to work at the oft frantic pace tournament fishing demands. Meanwhile, the bridgedeck has two sturdy and comfortable Release chairs at the helm, where I might add, the Release teak console makes for a handsome option. Bench seating to port and twin bucket seats up front make this boat suited for cruising as well.
Indoors, the saloon sported a forward galley with an island counter for better feng shui than a peninsula setup can offer. Woods can be either have high-gloss or satin finish and all fabrics are customizable in the saloon as well, just like they are down below.
On that level, scissoring bunks in the forepeak VIP mean two grownups can be comfortable, while the starboard-side master offered a queen berth and good headroom. The air conditioning shoots out from plenums lining the room, so no one area becomes frigid. A nice touch. The en suite head has a shower that is large and features a bench seat. A third stateroom to port had bunk beds. This room would be serviceable for crew, though may end up being used more for kids or stowage.
The Viking 52 has plenty of onboard space and speed and maneuverability in spades. What’s more, with her unabashed seakindliness, when it’s red sky in the morning … you’re going fishing!