Viking’s 52 Sport Tower bridges a gap between a hard core fishing machine and whatever else you may have in mind.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
Viking President Patrick Healey is a happy man these days. “We had to add some 65,000 square feet of production space to our existing New Gretna, NJ facility just to accommodate the design, development, and the floor space necessary to accommodate all our lines, including the 92 Convertible, our new Open series, 42 Sport Coupe, 46 Open Express, 52 Sport Tower, and our motor yachts. That building, by the way, was designed by our own production engineering group,” he said proudly.
The 52 Sport Tower, one of the three Open models Healey mentioned, was first introduced at Viking’s last dealer meeting and was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm.
“In planning and designing these boats, we looked at the Open Series, one that we’ve been in for years since the mid-1980’s beginning with our 35, and saw an empty space we knew we could fill,” Healey commented.
My charge was located at Viking’s Riviera Beach, Florida-based facility where I caught up with Capt. Ryan Higgins. Higgins, a consummate professional whether behind the controls of a Viking 92 footer or, as we were presently doing on both the Intracoastal and offshore waters, wheeling the 52 Sport Tower through her paces, has an expertise that not only covers skilled boat handling, but has a keen sense and insight of what went into a particular build as well.
“For this size, range, and power and accommodations, this boat is as good as it gets,” Higgins said as we began our time out on the water. “It more than takes care of any fishing needs an owner would want while also providing the kind of roominess for travel as well.”
With a pair of optional MAN V12 1,400-hp diesels— MAN V8 1,000-hp’s are standard—a 21.5kW Onan EQD genset, an optional Eskimo ice machine, and situated neatly behind the starboard engine, a Seakeeper NG9 gyro situated neatly behind the starboard engine, and along with all the other requisite equipment, I found the refrigerator-white Awlgripped engine room to provide plenty of space in which to service all the equipment. The battery compartment is easily accessed as are all critical maintenance areas including fluid checks, belts, hoses, and connections.
Also located here is Viking’s central water system that all but eliminates the need to have individual pumps to take care of all the freezers, air conditioning, heads, and any other such needs aboard.
Viking gave the 52 Sport Tower 142 square feet of space in which to get the job done—my test boat had a pedestal-designed rocket launcher set up in the middle—and I found moving around in the space to be not only effortless but noticed I would have no trouble reaching for anything I might need with a big fish astern. “As good as this boat is for whatever its owners have in mind, it’s DNA is all Viking from the bottom up and that means rigged and ready for action,” said Higgins.
The transom fish box has been maximized out for portable tuna tubes for those who need that kind of fishing equipment. And for an excellent view of all the action, there is a double-seated mezzanine as well.
With its open design, the command deck as Viking calls this area, not only provides excellent visibility from the center line helm even during acceleration, including help from the glass corners in the windshield, something I noted when it was my turn to take the wheel, but has the kind of amenities that allows for a rather intimate experience for guests whether fishing or traveling.
To either side of the pedestal helm seat are additional seating areas while aft and to starboard is a comfortable dinette. Over to port, and wrapping all the way around, is a molded-in console housing yet another freezer compartment. And in the overhead, are two flush-mounted compartments for rod storage.
“We have three versions of our open models and while they are all great designs and will fit individual preference, I favor the 52ST for my all around needs,” Higgins added.
Entering from a large sliding door just to port of the centerline helm, I took a few easy steps down into the accommodations space. Whether in the comfortable forepeak master or, as this 52ST was configured, the two staterooms to starboard, I found ample headroom giving the area a roomy feel and plenty of storage space for your time away from the dock. There are two heads here and the salon offers a dinette and full galley along with ample floor space in which to move around in.
Should someone want just two staterooms, the added space will applied to the salon area. “This is a personal area and its configuration is up to each individual owner’s needs,” said Higgins.
We took the boat out into the Intracoastal first to do some speed runs before heading out into the ocean. With 800 gallons of fuel on board—this 52 Sport Tower was equipped with the optional 1,467-gallon tanks with standard tankage at 1,202 gallons—and full water at 186 gallons, Higgins and I posted an impressive fast cruise of 40.7 knots at 2250 rpm. She held her direction beautifully and gave us an exhilarating ride. When we knocked her down to 2000, she turned in a 36-knot turn of speed and an impressive 31.3 knots at 1750 rpm. And of course, there was our exhilarating 42.7 WOT speed.
Helping to get these kinds of results means tank testing and with Viking’s special relationship with the Stevens Institute in Hoboken, NJ, the time and refining process results in a superior design.
As far as her running bottom is concerned, one that was taken from the highly successful 55 Convertible, that is the domain of Viking designer David Wilson. “It’s all new and a result of our constant refining,” said Wilson as we spoke on the subject.
Getting the all-important balance between power and performance meant some important factors to consider. “We went with full beam to get more wetted surface, a modified V, eliminated the keel, provided a fine entry up forward transitioning to about 11.8° of deadrise at the transom, and revisited the lifting strakes we designed many years ago,” mentioned Wilson. The strakes help to deal to break any suction created by fast boats in the 40+knot range and prevents them from teetering from side to side while at speed. “As far as our draft is concerned, we were willing to give up a little there by designing pockets into her bottom.”
HEADING FOR THE BARN
“Our philosophy is to have everyone involved in the production,” said Healey adding that his company has gained their unique boat building perspective by Viking’s longevity since its founding in 1964 by his father and uncle. “We’ve been able to endure things through bad times and good times and always with a great team that produces exceptional boats and always strive to make our product better each and every day. We build these boats through the rigors of what we do.”
The only regret with my day aboard the Viking 52ST was that it ended with me leaving the dock. This is the kind of boat that makes it tough to get off of. Take one for your own sea trial and you’ll see what I mean.
Displacement: 67,680 w/standard fuel
Fuel:1,202 gal (1,467 optional)
Water: 186 gal
Engines: MAN V8 1,000-hp
Optional Engines: Man V12 1,400-hp
RPM SPEED(kn) GPH
1000 11.3 28
1250 17.5 40
1500 25.3 58
1750 31.3 75
2000 36.0 100
2250 40.7 137
WOT (2330) 42.7 150
Viking Yachts. www.vikingyachts.com (609) 296-6000.