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October 10, 2011

Viking 42 Open

Zeus drives make the Viking 42 Open an exceptional performer

Since I grew up on the coast of New Jersey across the bay from Viking Yachts, I followed the company’s product evolution and fished on many of their boats for 35 years. A family-run business built on customer relationships and quality products, Viking Yachts is a model for the industry. The Healey family and their team have an aggressive business model, with frequent introductions of good-looking, purpose-built boats made to hold up under the rigors of offshore fishing.

The new Viking 42 Open is no exception. With its graceful sheer, raked stem and flowing lines, the 42 Open has the same stylish features as the larger Viking convertible models so widely accepted in today’s sport-fishing circles. But this boat’s practical, efficient layout and nimble maneuverability, with a pair of Cummins MerCruiser Zeus drives, make it something special.

I got to test the 42 Open on a beautiful summer day out of the Viking Yachts Service Center, in Riviera Beach, Florida. My friend and Viking captain Ryan Higgins and I took the 42 out of Lake Worth Inlet for a shakedown to see what it could do. I immediately noticed two things: First, it offered great visibility from the center console and the large wraparound windshield with fiberglass frame and huge open spans, and second, it is incredibly quiet for an open express boat at cruise. Higgins and I talked with ease.

Our test boat came powered by twin 600 hp diesel QSC 600 Cummins MerCruiser Zeus drives, and its maneuverability in the right hands is nothing short of spectacular when you’re working hooked fish like marlin, tuna and sailfish. Once you get acquainted with the drives, you can make any boat this size perform some incredible stunts. The 42 Open is super quick, spins on its own axis with blistering speed and comes out of the spin backing down in pursuit.

As I have said before, pod drives will make an average driver better, especially around a dock, but when you’re on a hot fish on light line with a good skipper who’s acclimated to the drives and understands the nuances of how good boat handling can decrease the length of engagement with a fish, the 42 becomes a light-tackle weapon.

The boat trolls quietly, with a controlled bubble trail that folds to the center even at lure speed, and it accelerates and comes on plane with little bow lift, maintaining visibility ahead the entire time. At a 2,400 rpm cruise speed, the 42 makes around 26 knots while burning a mere 35 gallons per hour, giving it over 350 nautical miles of range and the ability to fish two long days in a canyon without fueling.

The 120-square-foot cockpit has everything you need to pursue your quarry, including a molded-in livewell in the transom and two large in-deck insulated fish boxes that drain to a sump with a macerator pump. There are access hatches to the top of the drive units and a large lazarette entrance on the centerline aft, offering access to bilge pumps and high-water alarms. The step up to the mezzanine seating is arced forward on the centerline to accommodate the swivel of a fighting chair. Two mezzanine benches on either side of the center steps to the helm deck provide passenger seating, and a freezer to starboard and an insulated box to port sit beneath the seats.