The Atlantic stretched out before us as I hitched a ride on Viking’s 46 Billfish and thought of Costa Rica. That’s where this boat, hull number one, would soon be headed, sold to a buyer who is a regular at Los Sueños aboard his 80-foot Donzi. With me on this bluebird day was John Leek IV, general manager of Viking’s Mullica facility. Downsizing by almost half in LOA was no small jump for the owner, and I said as much. “Our client wanted something purpose-built for chasing billfish, and that’s what this is,” Leek said. “That’s what this guy does and that’s what he’s been doing for 40 years.” He wanted a smaller package, one that didn’t sacrifice performance or agility—something the larger Donzi couldn’t offer.
Leek has been overseeing the Billfish series since it began as a 37-footer at Ocean Yachts, his family’s company, in 2008; he’s been receiving positive feedback on it ever since. When Viking acquired the Ocean Yachts facility in 2016, they also acquired the 37 Billfish mold, intent on creating their own version. In the first two years of production, Viking sold 24—thanks, in no small part, to a dedicated facility at Mullica. It was so successful that Viking built a completely new version last year, rechristening the new boat the 38 Billfish. Introduced in 2019, the 46 “was sort of a natural extension of the line,” said Leek.
The 140-square-foot cockpit felt roomy for this size. Features include a bait freezer, two in-deck insulated fishboxes, a transom fishbox and livewell, rod holders, tackle storage, and fresh- and sea-water wash downs. Four-person mezzanine seating flanks the centerline walkthrough. The salon and flybridge feel equally minimalist, but highly functional. The salon has a U-shaped lounge with a hi-lo table. Across from it is a bench-style sofa, or what I imagine will be the perfect place to enjoy some AC while waiting for a reel to scream. The helm has a requisite black panel with flush-mounted electronics; two lounges come with headrests and additional storage underneath.
The Billfish are some of the smallest boats Viking offers, but they still sport the same proud bow and gently sloping sheer found in the larger sportfishermen. The closest model comparison would be the 44 Convertible: At 15 feet, 4 inches, the 46’s beam is a foot narrower, and weighing in at 43,134 pounds, it’s 8,000 pounds lighter. Outfitted with the optional 800-hp MAN diesels, the 46 has seen a top end of 40 knots and cruises around 34 knots. A standout is its maneuverability; the boat felt exceedingly agile and the ride was dry as a bone.
With one stateroom that includes a queen-sized berth, and two bunks off a companionway near the galley down, the 46 can accommodate a captain and crew (or friends) overnight. “We pretty much expect owners to be taking this offshore with their friends,” said Leek. “With this you can run 150 miles, spend two nights, fish for three days and come home. [It] has over 400 miles of range at 30 knots.” —Simon Murray
Displ.: 43,134 lbs.
Fuel: 709 gal.
Water: 99 gal.
Power: 2/715-hp Cummins QSM11
Cruise Speed: 34 knots
Top Speed: 40 knots