Viking Yacht Co. has been a dominant player in convertible sportfishermen for decades, building rugged, high-performance boats and never resting on its laurels. The New Jersey builder each year pours millions of dollars into research and development, and curates customer feedback and input as key components of its design efforts. The results show in sales, customer retention and the resale value of its boats.

With the introduction of the 54C, Viking is again taking aim at the upper end of the midsize segment. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve designed more boats from 50 to 60 feet than any other manufacturer in the industry,” president and CEO Pat Healey says. “This is absolutely our sweet spot.” The boat debuted at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The new boat builds on the success of the models that preceded it. “We’re in a constant state of refinement,” design manager David Wilson says. “Everything from interior and exterior design and accommodations to performance, fishability and ease of operation are evolving.”

The 54C, like every new model, rides a hull designed specifically for the design brief. Viking engineers use the company’s in-house computational fluid dynamics software to tweak running surfaces for maximum performance. It also allows the team to perform virtual sea trials to analyze pressure distribution, study trim angle and trim tab effectiveness, and modify strakes and chines. Viking builds the hull using vacuum-infused composites for stiffness and strength. Structural bulkheads and fuel tanks are shaped, then glassed into the hull before the deck is installed, which is through-bolted every 3 inches and glassed in place.

Photos of hull No. 1 leave no doubt that the 54C shares the Viking DNA. She has an S-shaped sheer, aggressively raked stem, double chines and angled hull-side vents. Length overall is 54 feet, 6 inches, with a 17-foot, 8-inch beam and a displacement of 75,026 pounds, including fuel and the tower.

She carries 1,535 gallons of diesel and 198 gallons of fresh water, and has a 59-gallon holding tank. At 154 square feet, the cockpit area includes mezzanine seating with an upholstered bench for five people.

Standard power is a pair of MAN V12 1,400-mhp diesels; 1,550-mhp engines are optional. Hull No. 1 has the upgraded power plants and has an estimated cruising speed in the mid-30-knot range. Top end is more than 40 knots, depending on the load and sea state.

The 54C is tournament-ready with such features as multiple insulated fishboxes; a transom live well; a mounting plate for a fighting chair, rocket launcher or table; and deep drains with scuppers that will promptly ship water out of the cockpit when backing down on fish.

The engine room and mechanical spaces are finished in white Awlgrip and arranged for easy access to systems for inspection and servicing.

The three-stateroom, two-head layout makes full use of the boat’s nearly 18-foot beam, with uninterrupted access from the saloon entrance to the forward stateroom, which comes standard with a queen berth or can be set up with a twin-berth arrangement. The master stateroom is amidships to port and has a walkaround queen berth, maple-lined hanging locker and stowage beneath the berth. The starboard stateroom has over-under berths.

In the saloon, a lounge area and galley are to port, and a dinette is to starboard. A design touch from the 58C, the arrangement gives the saloon the openness of a larger boat. The interior is available with high-gloss teak or walnut cabinetry and an array of furnishing options.

The 54C debuts at FLIBS, which opened yesterday, Oct. 28, and runs until Nov. 1, and also will be featured at a Viking VIP event in Riviera Beach, Florida, in January. Find out more at vikingyachts.com.

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