Illustration by Jim Ewing
When the Viking 55 Convertible debuted at the 1997 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, it was a definitive break from Viking “tradition.” She was softer and more curvy than the previous angular models. There was more bow flair, an absence of “knuckles” in the hull sides and an abbreviated bow rail. The saloon windows were blackened, and the flybridge overhang sheltering the cockpit was larger and created lots of room to maneuver behind the helm seats.
The 55 Convertible had it all — sleek and stylish good looks, five-star accommodations and racecourse performance in a boat dedicated to world-class tournament fishing. Designed by Bruce Wilson, the lines showed an unbroken, slightly reversed sheer and a swept-back superstructure, mirrored in the rake of the outriggers — in fact, she looks as if she’s moving when she’s standing still.
The engine vents in the hull side were flush-mounted, rather than raised, and the beam was carried farther aft. Powered by twin 1,200-hp MAN diesels, she cruised around 35 mph, with a top end close to 40 mph. (She was also available with twin 1,150-hp DDC/MTU 1830-V12 engines that provided similar performance.) There were fewer through-hull drains, with most of the water running through manifolds to a common alley.
The luxurious layout featured three staterooms, a saloon with lounge seating and an entertainment center, and a galley-up with high-end appliances. But this boat was designed to fish, and Wilson outfitted it accordingly. The soaring tuna tower caught the eye, for sure, but it was Wilson’s cockpit design that really excelled. He took full advantage of the boat’s 17-foot beam, with room for a fighting chair, bait-prep and tackle centers, live wells, fishboxes and lockers.
The boat also had a tournament-style helm pod with single-lever controls and a cooler on the bridge, as well as a recessed overhead teaser reel box. She sported dozens of features typically found aboard custom boats and set the stage for what New Gretna, New Jersey-based Viking Yacht Co. has become today.
About 115 Viking 55Cs were built during its five-year production run, from 1998 to 2002, and she is considered one of the world’s premier sportfishing boats.
June 2015 issue