REVIEW: VIKING 37 BILLFISH

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH & SUPPLIED

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Yes, you can have a big gameboat and a comfortable family vessel in a single and surprisingly affordable package.

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HIGHS

  • Big performer
  • Long-range capabilities 
  • Simple, clean multifunctional layout

LOWS

  • Keep the lower helm station (client’s choice)
  • Option up cockpit with better tackle storage

REVIEW: VIKING 37 BILLFISH priced from A$955,700 (ex US factory)

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When it comes to 40ft sport fishers and gameboats, the things that spring to mind are style and luxury, outstanding performance, big gamefish, over-the-top fishing bling, and endless dollars.

Many of those things are true but a recent test aboard Game & Leisure Boats’ latest Viking 37 Billfish from the USA completely changed my preconceptions. It’s stylish but with a practical and undemanding layout; it delivers sportsboat performance from low-maintenance shaft drives, and off-the-continental shelf fishability at a respectably economical price compared with many popular gameboats out there.

Founded in 1964 and still family owned and operated, Viking Yachts is a very well-known brand in the marine industry, producing some of the finest luxury sport-fishers, not to mention high-end celebrity-style motoryachts up to 92 feet.

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A glance reveals that the Viking 37 Billfish has drawn its design DNA from the larger boats in the family – in other words, it’s as stylish and sexy as they come. She has looks worthy of big shelf runs to catch big gamefish, sporting a genuine big and beefy gameboat flared bow, a flybridge, spacious cockpit, a modern and practical saloon and below-deck creature comforts. There’s a lot of boat packed into this 37-footer, that’s for sure.

There’s always a compromise to be struck when it comes to creating a balance between creature comforts aboard and a boat’s big game fishability, there’s simply no way around that. But for my money, Viking has done a sterling job here to satisfy the demands of day cruising, overnighting and true gameboat fishing on the 37 Billfish.

On offer below decks is a spacious air-conditioned layout that features a head, shower and vanity, Amtico vinyl flooring for ease of maintenance, as well as stylish gloss teak joinery lending a more luxurious look and feel.

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Accommodation includes a private stateroom with ample storage and twin bunks, though the bunks are an option and you can have a queen bed instead. I would probably prefer that arrangement; kids or mates can comfortably sleep in the saloon.

Whether for extended stays or simple overnight use, there’s a spacious and well-equipped galley offset to the starboard side below decks. This gets Corian countertops, a complete set of cooking appliances, refrigeration, and even dinnerware included – move in and you simply have to cook up the catch of the day.

When the fishing and cooking are done, you can relax in the simple, clean and easy-to-maintain saloon. Instead of loading it up with an abundance of plush linings and teak surfaces, Viking has gone with clean gelcoat finishes throughout and in the process done a good job of creating a spacious and practical saloon with dinette and full seating for six in comfort.

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Being fully enclosed, the saloon provides all-weather protection, making it ideal for boating through winter and summer anywhere around Australia. As standard the Viking 37 comes with a centred helm station but in this case the buyer had that deleted. I would prefer to keep both – the flybridge helm to suit the serious gamefishing, and the lower station for cruising with the family, for indoor protection and for comfort on days when you have long and rough runs out to the shelf.

The additional saloon accommodation already mentioned comes from the port dinette converting to a bunk; if need be the starboard lounge would also suffice as an extra.

The simple flick of a switch gives you full access to both port and starboard motors below the lounge seating, which leads me to another piece of good Viking design – I was impressed with just how quiet the saloon was when underway considering the motors are directly below the seating.

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Overall, this straightforward layout in a gameboat strongly appeals to me, especially when it comes to having either serious fishos or kids on board – not having to pussyfoot around to protect fancy teak flooring or luxury furnishings is a bonus. It looks good, it’s easy to maintain, and is quite simply far less stress for everyone.

As for performance and ride, well the 37 Billfish is simply mind blowing considering the size of the boat. You’ll experience genuine sportsboat performance in a gameboat thanks to the twin Cummins QSB550s – 550hp turbocharged diesel shaft-drives.

Knock the hammers down and she holeshots more like a trailer boat with outboards. Straight up the Viking 37 smoothly topped 35kt at WOT, which is fairly cracking along considering the boat’s size. Hugely improving the X factor top-end speed is a comfortable and dry ride in moderate conditions. It’s quite a nimble hull and locks into tight turns with ease – you actually need to remind yourself that it’s a gameboat and not designed primarily for hooning.

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The economy at this speed should be considered yet another bonus, swallowing what you’d have to think of a well-restrained 210L/h combined at WOT. That’s a pretty light appetite to say the least; on larger gameboats you’d expect to be caning the credit card with anything from 400L/h.

Drop the throttles down to a more civilised speed, I found the Viking 37 tackled a nasty ocean comfortably at 18-20kt. On test day the seaway threw an 18-22kt south-easter our way, along with a 1.5-2m swell. Regardless of direction to the swell, she produced a decent ride when manually driven. Underway, the stability up in the flybridge was good; she maintains a solid track and, best of all, she’s a manageable and enjoyable gameboat to drive. Again, the economy is impressive, with the diesel burn only around 80-100L/h at cruise speeds in rough conditions. Having a 1665-litre fuel capacity, that gives you a substantial range.

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At the business end of a gameboat running a spread, the cockpit has all the necessities covered, with live well, transom door, insulated and refrigerated fish box, deck wash, tackle storage, game chair, and the gunwales at a good workable height.

At troll speeds the tracking is again good, and in that slow 4-7kt range the consumption is a miserly 5-12L/h – again pointing out how inexpensive it is to run these motors.

THE WRAP

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I generally like large trailer boats and monstrous American 30-40ft centre consoles with outboards, but this Viking 37 Billfish has won me over. Were I in the market and choosing between a similarly priced non-trailerable cabin or outboard-powered centre console around 35-40ft, I think I’d be swayed to this Viking 37 Billfish. Why? It’s down to the combination of ease of maintenance within the layout, the unrivalled performance and long-range capability, low running costs, and the simple practicality both for fishing and family use.

As a dedicated gameboat, the 37 Billfish is more than capable of tackling big runs out to the shelf without being overly concerned if the wind and swell come up. As a family boat and weekender the creature comforts are there and she’d serve as a great day boat and overnighter out on the islands or in the bays. 

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICED FROM

A$955,700 (ex US factory)

OPTIONS FITTED

Forward cabin crossover bunks, enclosed rear bulkhead, upgraded a/c, Pompanette helm chairs (2), refrigerated fish box, Amtico flooring, Sunbrella canvas, 10-rocket launcher rear rail, Garmin electronics suite, Reelax game chair and maxi outriggers

GENERAL

Type Flybridge sports-fisher

Material GRP

Length 37ft 8in (11.48m)

Beam 13ft 10in (4.22m)

Weight 13,303kg (wet)

Deadrise 12.8° (transom)

CAPACITIES

People: 13 (day) 2-3 (night)

Rec. HP 550

Max. HP 550

Fuel 1665L

Water (fresh) 249L

Water (black) 132L

ENGINE

Make/model Cummins QSB550, 550mhp

Type Inline six-cylinder, four-stroke diesel

Weight 658kg (each)

Displacement 6.7L (x2)

Gear ratio TBA

Propeller TBA

SUPPLIED BY

GAME & LEISURE BOATS

F1, 247 Bayview Street, Runaway Bay,

Gold Coast, Qld 4216

PH +61 7 5577 5811

EMAIL sales@gandlb.com.au

WEB www.gandlb.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #496 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration. 

 


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