We set out to test-drive the new Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht after the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show on a blustery autumn day with occasional rain squalls. Eight of us sat comfortably on board including Riviera’s Senior Skipper Mark Lawson, Director of Brand Communications Stephen Milne, myself, and dealers from Asia and America.
The first thing I noticed was how easily we all fit in the flybridge. Mark sat in the centre with the wheel and multiple Garmin flat screens ahead. Controls were spread strategically around him including a console to his right with throttles, trim tabs, a joystick, autopilot and wiper actuators. All critical functions were in reach and set up so that items needed regularly were easy to access.
A dealer sat in the companion seat to port and I sat forward in the starboard settee. This seat is within talking proximity to the helmsman, has a great view out the windshield, and allows for multiple sitting positions. Forward-facing seating includes an angled backrest and room to put your feet up, or you can sit facing centre or angled aft toward the other passengers.
The rest of our test crew were spread out around the aft settee within easy earshot of the helm and able to see out the windows all around. It was noticeably quiet, which made it difficult to tell how fast we were going without looking at the gauges. Decibel level readings in the flybridge were well under 68 (the level of normal conversation), even when we hit 34 knots.
This Riviera 72 was driven by a pair of optional MAN V12-1900s with V-drives. It was also equipped with the Seatorque BOSS system to reduce vibration and noise. The shafts are encased in a sealed tube and bathed in oil all the way from the engine couplings to the props. Rubber mounts inside the vessel and at the strut dampen vibration and allow thrust to push directly on the vessel rather than press back against the engines.
On reciprocal runs to counter for current and wind, we averaged a top speed of 34.2 knots and peaked at an impressive 35.5 knots. Cruising at 23 knots (1800 rpm/71 percent load) burned 374 litres per hour, providing a range of 498 nautical miles based on 90 percent fuel capacity. Slowing to 8 knots gives the vessel a 2,500-nautical-mile ocean-crossing capability. An optional 1,500-litre tank helps her achieve a range of 1,310 nautical miles at 10 knots.
As we headed out of the Gold Coast Seaway into some nasty looking rollers, the steadiness of the Riv and its quietness made it seem like we were going slowly, but we were cruising along at 22 knots.
Angling down the coast, she moved easily and seemed ready to cruise safely all the way to Sydney despite the conditions. Above 25 knots she took a little spray when plowing through the biggest rollers, but never slammed, and tracked steadily.
We tested the optional Seakeeper gyro, slowing to 13 knots and turned so the waves hit us nearly broadside. As the waves started pushing, you could feel the Seakeeper counter hold us upright. She was still steadily moving along and never rolled hard.
I took the wheel, throttled up and made some turns across the wave tops. The handling felt solid despite the 6- to 8-foot rollers.
Spinning her around downwind she settled in, gently surfing the wave backs at around 18 knots as we headed back in.
The stairs were easy to traverse even while we were moving. High-quality furnishings and supple fabrics abounded, while glossy walnut timber shined throughout. The spacious main saloon with twin L-shaped seating/dining areas seats eight and a large, fully equipped galley aft has equal access to the saloon and the cockpit.
Accommodation includes a full-beam master stateroom with centre king berth, a large VIP forward, a twin cabin to port that can be converted to a double and a bunk room to starboard. Another option is the Presidential layout that enlarges the master and replaces the bunk cabin with the master head. Accessed directly from the cockpit, a small cabin with day head can be configured with bunks for crew or overflow guests.
Our day was not over as we were about to rendezvous with another vessel, the Riviera 395 SUV that also premiered at SCIBS. From the flybridge we relocated to the open back deck. This 72 was set up for some serious game fishing with outriggers, baitwells and a full steering station on the aft deck. This station boasts an outstanding view of the cockpit that is 16.32 square metres – four square metres larger than the 68 cockpit and one of the major differences between the two models.
The joystick is an EJS system from Twin Disk that drives variable speed transmissions on both engines as well as hydraulic bow and stern thrusters.
The Riviera 72 is a big girl with a dry weight of 47 tonnes, yet she handled easily with a gentle touch of the joystick, which spun, backed and manoeuvred the boat without any jerking or lunging.
The 395 arrived and it was time for a mid-water transfer. Making my way down to the cockpit, I waited at one of the two large cockpit doors. With confidence, Mark backed her up close enough to the 395 SUV for us to simply step across. The 395 SUV is impressive with a lot of amenities in a compact package, but that is a story for another day.
As we drove the boat we joked you could buy four Riviera 395s for the same price as one 72 Sports Motor Yacht. The smaller boats wouldn’t be able to cruise across oceans, and you would have to seriously tone down the parties and guests from what the 72 can accommodate, but you could have a boat waiting in four different ports – one 395 SUV in Sydney, one at Hamilton Island, one in Miami and one in the Med.
Thinking more seriously about the 72, the variety and quality of her gathering areas really stand out. Her large, adaptable cockpit with lighted baitwell and rod holders is a great space for fighting fish, but could just as easily become an alfresco dance floor or cocktail party spot with her flip-top wet bar and grill. Twin staircases lead to the mezzanine that offers comfortable seating and direct access to the galley and the day head/crew cabin below. Even the foredeck can be used for entertaining – when the tender is removed, flip-out seating and a dining table creates an intimate spot to hang out away from the action. The main saloon comfortably seats eight or more.
The bridge lounge provides further flexibility. With seating there and on the open deck aft, both flybridge areas provide ideal spaces for guests to gather while the boat is running or after the party has started.
With two new models released at Sanctuary Cove this year, Riviera captured a lot of visitor attention. Given the size and versatility of the Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht, it will be a stylish standout in any port or anchorage it graces.