Viva la Diva

Making her debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September, the Riva 82 Diva strutted onto the quayside catwalk, immediately impressing with elite styling and fit-and-finish details that make her stand out in a crowded field.

Written by Kevin Koenig

21 February 2024


I have made my rounds in this life and done some pretty cool things – many related to boats and the water owing to a long career covering the yachting industry – but there are very few things can top my experience spinning the wheel of the Riva 82 Diva.

I arrived at the yacht on a warm South of France morning toward the tail end of the 2023 Cannes Yachting Festival. The cool, periwinkle September morning light glittered and danced off the 82 Diva’s dark hull and superstructure, replete with eye-grabbing cutaways and glazing that formed neat parallels and myriad trompe l’oeils.

Having stepped aboard using the notably sturdy passerelle – not a given on all European-built boats – I made my way to the flybridge with a gaggle of other journalists amid the melody of lilting Italian from a small army of Riva and Ferretti professionals also accompanying us. The company captain turned the key and spooled up the twin 1,800-horsepower MAN V12s. The burly motors roared to life as we wended our way through a floating city of all manner of baubles and shiny things in the Vieux Port de Cannes.


We soon breached the aegis of the harbour and, after slaloming through some of the largest yachts in the world moored just outside, we got to open water. That’s when I took the helm and, as I am wont to do, slammed those throttles down. The 82 Diva took off in typically sporty Riva fashion, though I will say her aft end felt a bit heavy. This was, of course, excusable as we had a full tank of gas, a tender in the garage, and something like 47 people on board from a dozen different countries.

As we sailed out into the bay, the rush of wind at 27.5 knots deafened me as I locked in, making mental notes of the yacht’s agility and pick-up. And that’s when I looked up and noticed a helicopter about 20 metres off our bow, just to starboard.

It was the official Cannes Yachting Festival photography team getting shots of all the show’s offerings as they did their early morning sea trials – and, let me tell you, with all those big machines and moving parts cooking along at speed, 20 metres away seemed particularly close!

It made for a good photo op, though. So, I took my eyes off the water for a second and snapped a selfie of me at the wheel with the bird in the background, complete with a very angry French photographer shouting at me to put my phone away. The photo’s a framer – the kind they’ll display at my funeral one day.

The Riva 82 Diva makes it easy to look cool. The first hull of this series was launched in La Spezia, Italy, in July. Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta, founders of Officina Italiana Design, did the Diva’s interior and exterior, working in collaboration with the Strategic Product Committee led by Piero Ferrari and the Ferretti Group Engineering Department.

At first glance, one of the most striking things about this yacht is her extra-high gunwales with painted composite segments as opposed to the more traditional handrails.

This decision not only gives the vessel a safer feel when traversing forward and aft on the side decks, yet also lends her a line that is at once low profile but also dependable looking.

The yacht is able to maintain her sleek looks despite being the smallest Riva with a full flybridge (the 76 Perseo is just a shade smaller but has a sportfly per Riva).

That flybridge speaks to one of the driving influences behind his yacht’s design brief – the importance of outdoor space. The flybridge has the upper helm to starboard with twin Simrad screens and a grippy wheel with intricate stitching.

Forward of that, of course, is the obligatory sunpad, big enough for four across. Opposite the helm is an L-shaped dining settee to port, with lounge chairs on the aft portion of the deck for views of this yacht’s considerable wake. The entire set-up, save for the sunpads, benefits from shade thrown by a carbon-fibre t-top, which of course helps keep the centre of gravity low as well.

However, where the 82 stands out among Rivas in terms of exterior space is in her cockpit, where drop-down terraces – a first for the brand – greatly expand the yacht’s beam when at anchor, turning her into a proper party platform.

“My clients love those drop-down sides,” says Brock Rodwell, CEO of Ray White Marine, a Riva dealer with offices in Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne and Queensland.

“The beam expands from 6 metres to another 3 metres wider – it’s great for a party; people can move freely about the boat and not bump into each other.”

A third exterior entertainment space is found up on the Riva’s foredeck, where the requisite sunpads form a U-shaped lounge. At the forepeak, six steadfast stainless-steel fairleads stand sentry just past a stainless-steel windlass and deep locker for lines and fenders.

The 82’s interior is typical of one of Italy’s premiere yacht brands, which is to say it’s slick, sexy and luxurious.

The saloon on the boat in Cannes had plush seating to port opposite a pop-up TV and bar. The space is awash in highly lacquered dark mahogany and shiny marble that offset the creams and light greys of the upholstery. Up two steps was the formal dining area, which encompassed a beautiful grey marble table with lightning bolts of golden veining.

That dining table is serviced by a galley that got a chuckle from a few of the journalists on board – it’s up on the main deck, which is nice for non-European audiences, but it’s just to port of the lower helm. Like, literally right next to it – you could fry eggs with your left hand and steer the boat with your right.

That being said, it’s an arrangement Rodwell assures will play well with his clients. “Nobody wants to get stuck down below doing the cooking,” he says. “People want to be up top where the action is, with their friends.

“Is the positioning a bit of a compromise? Sure. But if you need to be both the captain and the chef, which a lot of Aussies do, you can kill two birds with one stone.”


It does bear mentioning that I’d probably only use that lower helm during inclement weather. The sightlines are tight and they are also completely blocked aft by the stairs leading to the flybridge. But then again, you can’t grill a steak while driving up top, either.

The Riva 82, large as it is, is still in my American mind a dayboat – don’t shoot the messenger; the US dayboat market borders on the absurd. But Rodwell says he sees it used more as a coastal cruiser in Australia. “You wouldn’t take it out west,” he says, “but with a 300-nautical-mile range, you could take it from Queensland to Melbourne, no problem.”

If you intend on staying overnight, the accommodation level is rather gorgeous. The four-stateroom layout features an amidships ensuite master that connects to a forepeak ensuite VIP via a passageway in the same high-lacquer mahogany as in the saloon. The effect, as I walked from stateroom to stateroom, was truly mesmerising – it’s like being in the most elegant hall of mirrors you could ever imagine.

Italian boats aren’t typically known for their engine rooms, but on this boat, access to the MANs, generator and all other work points was decent, if perhaps a bit tighter than on similar British builds. But, what you lose in engine-room space, you make up for in spades with style. And, if you want to look cool, like supermodel cool, the clue is in the name – the Riva 82 Diva really is a framer.



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