Boating is one of the rare activities that will entice me to leave the comfort of my home in the early hours of a winters’ morning, especially on a Sunday.
Although it’s a little crisp at Sydney Superyacht Marina on my arrival – and our footprints are the first in the dew-covered carpet on the pontoon – the warmth of the sun is hinting at a stunning day ahead.
Riviera has invited us to review Hull #1 of the brand-new 64 Sports Motor Yacht. First impressions are good, with the hull windows creating good lines and, at nearly 6 metres wide, the beamy hull creates a spacious feel. It’s clear this particular vessel, which is going to the US, is designed for serious fishing.
Riviera is renowned for their true bluewater hulls that are designed to cope with the often-punishing conditions of Australia’s oceans, but this particular model has some new features, which make it appealing to more than just those who like to reel in a marlin.
Stepping onto the swim platform, which has a neat curve to it that makes alighting for those of us with short legs a little easier, the mezzanine level strikes me instantly.
The cockpit is entirely set up for fishing and water sports with bait tanks, fish tanks, multiple storage lockers and double outward opening transom doors for easy access.
The mezzanine also allows those of us who aren’t into fish guts the opportunity to observe the fun from the comfort of a deeply cushioned dinette with shiny cup holders and a generous gloss-finished table for our cheese platter. In this way, on arrival, all types of boating folk are met with something that will give them instant pleasure.
The width of the entry into the mezzanine is generous, too, so you won’t be struggling with the esky. As an added bonus, if you use the latest in clears technology, like Strataglass, you can completely enclose this mezzanine and create a temperature-perfect space in conjunction with the air-conditioning option.
Opening the hopper window and sliding door from this area to the aft galley creates an indoor-outdoor room even Jamie Durie would be proud of – and yes, I know you’re a timber boat man, Jamie, but you really should see this.
The drop-down ceiling TV completes the mix.
Entering the saloon area, of particular immediate appeal was the darker fabric used to frame the windows. This naturally draws the eye to the view outside, rather than the structure of the windows, giving great depth.
Other design details such as the leather-wrapped grab rails, the Clipsal backlit light switches and the gloss walnut – which is the generous, luxurious standard on this vessel – contribute to it feeling more like the quality we are now used to in our homes. In fact, when her 42- or so tonnes are pulled up into a bay with the gyro running, giving her a truly planted and solid feel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a luxury island rather than a boat.
For me, the option of curling up on the day bed in the mezzanine – or any of the abundant choices of seating – with a book or magazine and a glass of champers is decidedly appealing. Which reminds me, you’ll be glad to know the Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Cristal, or Petersons sparkling, whichever takes your fancy, will fit upright in the drawer fridges if you need to extend your supply beyond the dedicated wine fridge.
The full-height fridge also provides ample space for seafood platters and special occasion cakes.
It always delights me to see a full-height fridge in a galley because some items simply don’t work in a drawer fridge.
The galley has simple, easy-to-clean finishes, a well-spaced induction top, a sensible double sink, Blum cabinetry mechanisms and a good-sized dishwasher. If you’re a Miele fan, you’ll be happy with the standard inclusions. The amount of worktop space with rounded corners – and the perfect design to hold yourself against when the going gets rough – means you can easily prepare a feast, even under way.
Of particular note is the abundance of refrigeration available. The additional two drawer-fridges located opposite the galley and next to the wine fridge, and the two freezer-drawers under the full-height fridge, in addition to the ample fridges in the flybridge and cockpit, easily accommodate Australians’ penchant for a generous supply of cold beer. There’s also plenty of space to keep food for some time, too.
The seating in the saloon is plentiful, and the dining table moves athwartships, so those who have enjoyed a little too much cheese in their time don’t have to do that awkward shuffle into the U-shaped seat. Also, unlike in the old days, when you sit down, you can actually see out the windows. The expanse of which gives this whole space such a great connection to the ocean, and will shelter you from the storm if needed.
The steps down to the cabins are a comfortable width, so your guests won’t scrape the timber with their overnight bags. They’re also gentle enough in depth that the knees aren’t going to suffer, either. This particular vessel is a four-cabin boat, with three generous bathrooms. (Why call them heads when they look like proper bathrooms, I say.)
If I were ordering this vessel, I would go a three-cabin version and use the fourth as an office or gaming area – there are just so many possibilities. I have to confess, however, the bathrooms are a little utilitarian for my taste. A little more interest and texture, especially to the shower space, would be more appealing, particularly in the context of the quality of the rest of the vessel. Sure, they are easy to look after and will look great for many years to come, but just a little more styling would go a long way.
The plush carpet to the master is noticeable underfoot, and as we walk through the master ensuites, we arrive at a genius area of this boat – a laundry bigger than some of us would have at home. This is the perfect spot to dry wet clothes on the dedicated drying rack, air damp lifejackets from the PWC ride (that’s personal watercraft for those not in the know), or sort and fold those multiple towels after a big family or crowd has had a great day out in the water.
Speaking of families and friends, extra bedding options are plentiful aboard this vessel, and lounges in the flybridge, saloon and mezzanine easily convert to additional sleeping spots.
And that cockpit is a perfect spot for the kids to take off all their wet gear and drip it all over the teak there before they enter the mezzanine, where they dry off a little further before entering your plush gloss saloon. The high-quality timber-style veneer over vinyl flooring in and near the galley is a finish I far prefer over old-fashioned carpet for its practicality and wear. Not to mention its ability to remain unstained from even the boating novice who brought the beetroot salad.
While this boat has carpet in the dinette area of the saloon, I would have continued the vinyl finish as far as I could. Still, these are all personal preferences Riviera will happily accommodate.
Within the laundry is a sturdy full-height door into the engine space that is, frankly, so clean and shiny it’s good enough for a whisky tasting. Little details here like underwater exhausts, great insulation and 40 years of experience applied to engineering improvements, are what contribute to the smooth and quiet operation of this boat.
Then there are the thoughtful additions like the block warmers, which prevent a cold, smoky engine starting your day, and the MAN engines and Onan generators are an excellent choice for reliability, durability and warranty.
Whether you choose the 1,300 or the 1,550hp, your friends will be blown away by the magnitude of these beauties – their Porsche 911 will pale in comparison.
(Yes, I know we can talk power to weight ratio here on 42 tonnes, but it’s still fun to have such a big engine size to boast about, right?)
Other simple design features that delight my simple needs – I can hear my husband laugh and reference my taste in shoes! – include a dedicated cupboard for the Dyson and linen, and the non-slip steps to the flybridge. Glossy enough to be gorgeous, grippy enough to be safe.
Safety features, such as high coamings on the side decks so kids can run the circuit of the boat safely – they all do it, despite our efforts to stop them – and an alarm on the helm to signify the portholes are open in the master suite, as well as a pantograph door from the saloon to the side and foredecks, also appeal to my motherly nature. The foredeck, in my view, is a bit plain, yet still functional. It has seating, a small table and hatches that are simply not as stylish as the other areas in this luxury vessel. I recognise this boat has been created specifically for a client who is more concerned about their tender being on the foredeck than the relaxation space there, and I get that.
I prefer a tender solution on a hydraulic platform aft, so I would step up the comfort, quality and style of this area. I know Riviera could accommodate my needs, but they would be wise to make clients aware of this when viewing this particular boat as this area does feel more basic than it could – and might be an unnecessary turn-off.
Talking of turn-offs, here’s a subject that isn’t sexy, but still needs to be noted. Many holding tanks in boats are like the fuel tank of a Mustang car – way too small – but this beauty has a thoughtful 500-litre capacity, something all families and those who love to share their boat with guests will truly appreciate. Fewer visits to the pump-out the better, right? Her water capacity is a generous 750 litres, so you can linger in the shower a little longer than usual, too.
So now we come to performance on the water, in which I have to say I was decidedly impressed. The helm has excellent vision, and the controls are easy to reach. Everything is at the touch of a button, including the self-trimming of the boat, which many other users of the water will sincerely appreciate.
The helm seat was exquisitely comfortable, and the adjustable footplate was within easy reach of my somewhat shorter than the average bloke’s legs, making the driving position even more comfortable.
There are more and more people getting into boating for the sheer pleasure of it, rather than a true passion for boats, and Riviera is conscious of this. As such, they are creating helms that are not daunting, but instead are easy to navigate and control. The EJS twin disc joystick control is a perfect example of this – point it in the direction you wish to travel, and the computer – combined with the twin engines, bow and stern thruster – will do the rest.
Seriously, guys, you can no longer tell us you need to be on the helm, and us girls have to do the heavy work on the fenders and lines. It’s a joystick, for goodness sake. (Apologies for any domestics I’ve just started!)
Seriously, though, this is the way of the future, and it’s only going to get easier with self-berthing boats a work in progress for many boating-system suppliers. Meanwhile, on the open ocean, the ride was beyond comfortable. Soft fall, lack of roll and sheer power to cut through the water gave great confidence when on the helm and the driving position was forward enough for it not to feel daunting.
The transition from 12–30 knots was gentle and smooth, yet fast. There also came the realisation that 33 knots did not feel as fast as it should!
Frankly, there is nothing like being in charge of 3,100hp and 42 tonnes, girls. You really must try it.
Riviera refers to this boat as a passage-maker, which is a big call on a planing boat like this, so I asked Chris Attard from Riviera how they have extended the economy. He said, “On our sports motor yacht range, we try and design a displacement range in the boat.
“This means, from 0–10 knots, the boat is incredibly good as a displacement boat. As a slow vessel for long passages, it’s incredibly good on fuel.” And he’s not kidding. If you fuelled her up, and ran her anywhere from 8–10 knots, you could drive to New Zealand and get back again on just one tank of fuel. It’s a huge range.
“The minute you go up to 20–24 knots, different story,” continues Chris. “Most people doing a journey like that might sit on 20–22 knots to Lord Howe Island, top up with fuel, and then do a slower run to New Zealand, depending on weather and so on.
“The beauty of this, though, is if you’ve got a stormfront or a low coming through, you can build it up a little more, and you’ve got a little in reserve.” By way of example, this 64 holds 6,500 litres of diesel, rather than the larger boats, such as the 68 or 72, start getting into 9,000 litres and 11,000 litres of diesel.
Chris explains that the idea came from customers who wanted to make longer journeys. “They want to go to Fiji; they want to go to New Zealand. They want to circumnavigate Australia and go around Tasmania – that’s what these boats can achieve comfortably.” Of that, I have no doubt.
As we pulled into the marina gently and slowly as we should, I feel relaxed, yet exhilarated. A trip on a boat can be tiring; not so here. A trip on a boat can be a little noisy; not so here. Instead, this has been a delightful experience and one I hope many will enjoy in the future.
It’s clear Riviera are continuing to raise the bar. They’re meeting the demands of today’s more sophisticated client, understanding that fishing is no longer the only focus. They’re also really listening to client feedback.
As one of Australia’s few remaining manufacturers, we need to support this brand into the future. Quite simply, not only do they have a great, luxury product; many hard-working Australians are depending on its production.