Viking 42 Open

The 42 Open features classic lines and a crisp ride.

You can tell a Viking from a distance by its sharp lines, crisp ride and the authoritative way it glides through seas. A Viking is also the boat most often seen with at least one fish hooked to its bristles of tackle.

Even at Miami Beach Marina, chock full of sport-fishers, tuna towers and upturned outriggers, I spotted the Viking 42 open immediately. It was sandwiched between, and paling the luster of, two lesser sport-fishers. I stepped onto the wide gunwale, appreciating the secure sandy nonskid and convenient grab rail as I swung aboard.

Once in the 120-square-foot cockpit, I admired the upholstered mezzanine lounges against the helm-deck bulkheads and the generous tackle storage cabinets molded in above them.

On the transom is a roomy oval livewell with lids hinged to open from the right or left. Pop another latch and remove them completely. Inside, the tank overflow is molded in flush, eliminating the cheesy standpipe of lesser wells and also eliminating places the bait can hide. Minor? Not to a sport fisherman who wants to lure in working fish by scooping out freebies without taking eyes from the fish.

Many minor details make a boat great, such as oversize flush-to-the-deck scuppers with decorative stainless grates.

In case you see a detail you’d like to change — move a rail or change the fine hardwoods or upholstery or even move a fish box or add a third stateroom — Peter Frederiksen, a specialist at Viking, says, “We can build it any way you want. Every boat we build is different to suit the customer.”

Our test rig had Strataglass curtains that attached to the custom fiberglass windshield frame to offer a coolly air-conditioned option comparable to a pilothouse or sedan. The helm itself was elevated, improving the already commanding 360-degree view above the heads of crew enjoying surround lounges, which hid ample rod storage. The arrangement keeps the captain in control and in touch. The helm station as standard is elegant, but this one was trimmed in polished and varnished teak, an upgrade ($4,260) parroted in the helm. Trim the jump seats aft of the captain in teak for $5,445.

Belowdecks, beautiful woodwork and Corian countertops in the galley and head wowed me. Aft is a twin-berth stateroom, and the forward master stateroom offers a full-size bed with ample closet, vanity and storage beneath the berth.

Tucked in a compartment left of the helm was the VHF radio, convenient to use but protected from the elements. Right of the helm, a compartment held the joystick control for slow-speed maneuvering or backing. Of particular note, I liked the dual throttle and shift levers spread at hip width, allowing the captain to back down or pivot to the dock with traditional helm controls, should he prefer it. I tried it and felt it handled like a standard inboard sport-fisher, such as the Cabo 44 HTX with straight inboards. Don’t want to handle a joystick or twin levers? Zeus lets you run both engines with one lever — a feature you’ll prefer in open seas and won’t mind as a side benefit to pods.

The Cabo 44 HTX is slightly larger than the Viking, but inboard accommodations are somewhat diminished because straight inboards take up more space than pods do. At the helm, I preferred the beefy joystick to starboard of the helm for close-quarters handling, but some captains don’t want to abandon the devices of lifelong habits even when better technology supersedes them.

The 42 eased up on plane without cutting off forward visibility and, thanks to the Zeus 3800 pods and Cummins QSC 8.3 600 hp engines upgrade ($52,900), did it quickly. Engine options include dual 440s or 480s. Zeus pods include automatic trim tabs and a drive train in perfect alignment to the keel to make the step to plane painless. In three- to four-foot seas, I spun the helm hard over port and then starboard, looking for, but not finding, a chink in the handling armor. Underfoot, the Viking felt rock solid, and I watched my crew for a grimace of discomfort as we sliced through the seas. There was not a blink to suggest we back down. That’s the uncompromising confidence you get at the helm of your own Viking.

Comparable model: Cabo 44 HTX