Lord of the Seas

Fourth-generation Italian entrepreneur, shipbuilder and designer, Carlo Riva, has passed away at the age of 95.

Written by Cameron Wood
Photography by Ferretti Group

11 April 2017


It is with heavy heart that the yachting world bids farewell to a pioneer shipbuilder, designer and Italian maestro, Carlo Riva, who passed away 10 April in his hometown of Sarnico, Italy, aged 95.

A fourth-generation shipbuilder, Carlo knew from a young age that he wanted to join the family business – started by his great grandfather Pietro in 1842 – and set out working at boatyards.

Growing up and learning the trade during what has long been described as a golden age for motor boating, and witnessing firsthand the creation of the world’s first speedboats, Carlo sought to further innovate the bustling industry. In 1954, Carlo opened a futuristic shipyard that ushered in a new and innovative production structure. This stroke of genius led Carlo to cast his eye on designing boats that differed from the general transporters of cargo, goods and patrons. Soon the Italian master was creating luxurious boats that were aesthetically appealing, elegant and possessed a high level of detail and function.

Carlo Riva and his team at the Riva Boatyards had turned what were once transport vehicles into worldwide status symbols.


The first speedboat model that earned Riva international fame was the Ariston. Carlo was impassioned with this project and described the new design as his “Lord of the Seas.”

Soon leading celebrities, businessmen and royalty, including Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Jackie Stewart and Brigitte Bardot, were purchasing the new designer boats.

The success of the Ariston led to Riva’s Tritone, the world’s first twin-engine boat.

The production of Riva’s Aquarama in 1962 made him the most iconic shipbuilder and his boatyard the most sought-after in the world.

The Aquarama’s success and popularity was underlined by its longevity, with the luxury ship remaining in production until the 1990s. The final Aquarama is housed in Sarnico’s Museum of the Boatyard.

Forever possessing a pioneer’s spirit, Riva left the boatyard in 1972 –  after creating the first fibreglass boat in 1969 – and began working on the International Tourist Port of Rapallo, located in the northern Italian region of Liguria. Riva’s success at the Tourist Port of Rapallo led to the port being dedicated to him on 25 July 1975.

In reflecting on the passing of this Italian master, Alberto Galassi, chief executive officer of the Ferretti Group, explains, “The world has lost a brilliant creator of boats, a master of style, [and] a giant in Italy’s industrial and business history.”

In celebration of Carlo Riva’s legacy and the growth of the iconic Riva brand, the Ferretti Group, as a worldwide premiere, is unveiling the new Riva 100 Corsaro at their showroom in Hong Kong in late April.

Chief Executive Officer of Ray White Marine in Gold Coast, Australia, Rick Rodwell, explained before boarding a flight to Hong Kong, “Ray White’s attendance at the launch of the new Riva 100 Superyacht and world wide preview in Hong Kong represents a befitting celebration of Carlo’s legacy, including Ferretti Group  executives from Italy, distributors and clients from right around the globe.”



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