I shouldn't have been sur­prised.

MAX­I­MUM CRUIS­ING RANGE AT 30 KNOTS

Yachting - - REVIEWED - Take the next step: vikingy­achts.com

I’ve tested enough Vik­ing Yachts mod­els by now to know the builder’s hulls float like ducks. But still, I ad­mit, I was sur­prised. I ran the Vik­ing 44 Open off At­lantic City on the same day I tested the com­pany’s flag­ship, the 93 Mo­to­ry­acht, in testy 5-foot­ers chopped up by strong currents stirred by a dis­tant hur­ri­cane. The 93 bar­reled right through the con­sid­er­able slop. I was cu­ri­ous how the 44, about half the big­ger boat’s size and weight, would han­dle the seas. ¶ The 44 shrugged off the swells al­most as eas­ily as her big sis­ter did. Her fine en­try sliced right through the white­caps, and the rel­a­tively flat af­ter sec­tion of her balsa-cored, resin-in­fused fiber­glass hull, with a 14.3-de­gree tran­som dead­rise, helped her to get out of the hole eas­ily. The hull de­sign also al­lowed for good track­ing in fol­low­ing and head seas. Two lift­ing strakes fur­ther aided han­dling, and she landed softly in the troughs, with­out a creak or groan. The first few times we launched off a peak, I braced my­self. But the 44 per­formed so well that I be­came fully re­laxed splash­ing through even the largest swells. ¶ And the boat was dry thanks to that fine en­try, along with the 44’s spray rails and more than 6 feet of for­ward free­board. All of the spray that day broke abaft the steer­ing sta­tion, keep­ing sight­lines un­blem­ished. ¶ With the ham­mer down on the boat’s stan­dard twin 800 hp MAN diesels (1,000 hp Volvo Penta D13s are op­tional), the 44 sped along at 37.1 knots. She cruised at 30 knots while rip­ping through the chop. And her pow­eras­sisted hy­draulic steer­ing was ex­tra crisp, not to men­tion stylish, thanks to an op­tional teak helm pod. The helm also has three com­fort­able Stidd helm chairs and twin 15-inch Garmin dis­plays, all within an en­closed space — a nice place to be, given the snotty con­di­tions out­side. ¶ Vik­ing hopes the 44 Open will ap­peal to yachts­men who are step­ping up from rough-and-ready cen­ter con­soles, or step­ping down from larger con­vert­ibles. I think the builder might be right. Those look­ing for more fea­tures than typ­i­cal cen­ter con­soles of­fer will find them on the 44, and those step­ping down from con­vert­ibles will still find angling ameni­ties. ¶ On test day, Vik­ing CEO Pat Healey touted the boat’s ma­neu­ver­abil­ity. “That’s my fa­vorite part about this boat,” he said with

a smile. “She’s just re­ally fun to drive.” Healey also said the 44’s lay­out is note­wor­thy. With just the one deck, the ves­sel lets fam­i­lies stay to­gether, so Mom and Dad can keep track of the kids. And, as Healey said, it’s a heck of a lot eas­ier for a kid to learn how to fish when Dad’s on the same level, not up top on the fly­bridge hol­ler­ing down in­struc­tions. ¶ For own­ers who pre­fer a bird’s-eye view from above, or who want the op­tion of time to them­selves while driv­ing, Vik­ing sub­sidiary Palm Beach Tow­ers can build a tuna tower for this model. ¶ Belowdecks, the 44 Open has a two-state­room setup with a fore­peak mas­ter that is out­fit­ted for a cou­ple. There’s pri­vate ac­cess to the day-head from the mas­ter, and the shower has 6 feet 8 inches of head­room. ¶ The guest state­room is amid­ships and would be a good spot for the kids or for use as ex­tra stowage. Adults stay­ing here for just one night would also likely be com­fort­able. ¶ The 44 Open’s gal­ley is on the ac­com­mo­da­tions level and has a two-burner Kenyon cook­top and a sink, to ser­vice the port­side din­ing set­tee for four. The ac­com­mo­da­tions setup seems about per­fect for a cou­ple to make a run over from South Florida to the Aba­cos for a long week­end. Also, be­cause this boat draws 3 feet 10 inches, she’s well-suited for cruis­ing and fish­ing in skinny Ba­hamian wa­ters. ¶ In the en­gine room, which is ac­cessed via a hatch in the mez­za­nine, the twin MANs are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, as are the 13.5 kW gen­er­a­tor aft and the twin Ra­cor fuel fil­ters on the cen­ter­line — no small lay­out feat on a boat this size. And the sole is coated in white Awl­grip so that owner-op­er­a­tors can spot drips and spills. There is a ded­i­cated space for the op­tional Sea­keeper 5 gy­rosta­bi­lizer, which pinned the 44 Open in place even in the tough con­di­tions. ¶ The Vik­ing 44 Open is a boat that is cruis­able for young fam­i­lies, a solid fit for boaters who don’t want the has­sle of climb­ing a lad­der to the helm, and a pis­ca­to­rial plat­form for an­glers who want a nim­ble fish-chas­ing ves­sel. She’s also fast, solidly built and well laid out. ¶ She is, in essence, a Vik­ing. No­body should be sur­prised about that.

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