Author : David Toyer
Six years ago Riviera launched the 40 flybridge convertible, which with over 300 units built to date, has been one of the most successful boats produced by the company. Its replacement the Riviera 41 is an even better boat, says David Toyer.
On the surface it may seem a gutsy call to replace such a popular boat, but it has been a well planned and thoroughly researched program by Riviera that has resulted in a great 40 flybridge convertible being replaced by an even greater, much more refined and better engineered 41.
Physically, there is not much of a change. Thirty millimetres has been added to the beam and 100mm to the moulded hull length, and surprisingly there is a net reduction of 80mm in the overall length.
But it’s not these actual physical dimensions that provide the most impact with the new 41. Rather, it’s the use of the space; the interior planning and décor; and how such minor changes can all work together to produce a boat that is so much more stylish and appealingly airy and spacious.
I’m not trying to put the 40 down, as it is still a very smart looking and practical cruising boat, but the 41 does look so much more advanced and upmarket. In the words of Riviera’s design concept manager, Neil McCabe, the 41 is “an evolution of the styling we introduced with the 40 six years ago”. Working closely with naval architect Frank Mulder who created the running surfaces of the boat, the Riviera design department provided a more modern look to the cabin and cockpit, enlarged the flybridge aft from similar size previous models and gave the tinted windscreen a new wrap-round look.
The moment you step aboard, the impact that results from simple changes is apparent. For example, the larger, lower aft saloon window and glass door opens the saloon more to the cockpit, and the extended cockpit offers more shelter to a cockpit that is unchanged in area but has a lot more multi purpose storage space with hatches and lids that are thinner and lighter due to new injection moulding.
Inside the saloon, the entire cabin appears much more spacious; is bright and airy, and there is a far more contemporary flair in the décor.
A number of changes to the saloon all work well – the lower sills on the windows brighten the cabin and give a better view out, particularly from the lounge, which itself has been “squared up” into the corner and doesn’t eat up as much floor space as the “older” curved design, while the dinette, being raised, doesn’t detract from the roominess of the cabin, and gives those seated at its table an even better outlook when at anchor.
The TV sits forward of the dinette (over the 2nd cabin headliner), where it can be clearly seen wherever you sit in the saloon, while the rest of the entertainment system and the wet bar with fridge and icemaker, bottle and glass drawers, tucks nicely into the side quarter of the saloon under the angled AC/DC panel, immediately to the side of the door.
The galley has been raised – now only one step down – and this along with a rough cast acrylic and stainless steel splashback to the bench instead of the solid shelf and cupboard, results in the galley now being a more integral part of the saloon space. On top of this, the extra headroom through the saloon adds heaps to the overall impact of this updated layout.
The contemporary interior is simple, with a soft contrast of the warm, highly (glossed) lacquered cherry veneer on the joinery work and the Amtico flooring under the dinette and in the galley, with the neutral tones of the leather upholstery, carpeted floor and lined ceiling. This interior should stand the test of time.
The galley is not huge but includes a lot in the limited space available. There is a lot of benchtop workspace provided, with flush Corian lids sitting over the top of the waste bin, dual burner cook top and the sink, but Riviera might want to consider adding a decent lip or fiddle rail along the outer edge of the bench. There is an under-bench two-door fridge and freezer with heaps of storage cupboards and drawers each side, and the microwave is recessed into the bulkhead opposite the galley.
Storage is enhanced by a huge bay located under the galley floor. This space, which sits forward of the engine room, is accessed through a flush hatch in the middle of the galley floor. With a short ladder down into this hold, on top of the hot water unit that finds its permanent home in here, there is an option to install a washing machine and clothes dryer with still space for a lot more.
Berths for Five
From the galley, three steps lead down to the two cabin/two bathroom layout that provides accommodation for up to 5 adults. This sleeping capacity can be increased to seven with a trundle bed housed in under the saloon lounge.
But it’s the two cabin/two bathroom layout that makes this boat so appealing to the weekend cruising and live-aboard owners, giving them all the privacy and space they need, with a generous island double berth (with inner spring mattress) master cabin in the bow along with an ensuite that has a separate shower stall, while guests or kids have it pretty comfortable with the twin fore/aft single berths in the second cabin, plus a transverse trundle bunk that slides out from within the cavity space created by the raised dinette in the saloon.
With this third bunk in use, the second cabin does get a bit more squeezy, but I’m sure the smaller kids will love it, while the older ones will probably be happier with the fact that there are three separate bunks instead of an infill between the two, when space is needed for a third person.
The second bathroom, which opens off the companionway, is compact and a curtain is used for the shower in this instance rather than a separate screened space. As is the case with the master cabin ensuite there is plenty of headroom; a full size vanity basin with good bench space, and a decent sized storage cabinet is built in.
The overhead deck hatches let in plenty of light and air, and the Mark 5 Ocean Air blinds provide privacy.
The base of the master cabin island berth is hinged, and with the assistance of two gas struts, allows the entire base to be raised for access into the large storage space under the berth. A cedar lined hanging locker tucks neatly into the starboard corner of the cabin, (also one in the second cabin) and mirror faced overhead lockers running the length of the cabin stow everything out of sight.
Access to the engine room is a little simpler and more direct than it has been and the room itself is superior to previous models. The fold away sink disappears in favour of a lift up hatch and side hung door leading straight into an engine room that is improved with the inclusion of a moulded liner and about 50mm more headroom. This doesn’t sound much but it does make almost every component of the engines a bit easier to get to, and that’s once yet get past the exhaust from the port side engine that almost hits you in the face when you first get in.
The main breaker panel is positioned right in front of the engine room hatch, so is easily accessible from the cockpit, as too are the coolant bottles and fuel filters.
Quick & Smooth
Standard engines are the fully electronic 460hp 7.4 litre 6 cylinder Caterpillar C7 ACERT diesels with the electronic 540hp 8.4 litre Cummins QSC as an option. Underwater exhausts, designed to reduce running noise levels, are standard, and for the first time on a Riviera, the engine room vents are a fully integrated moulded unit built into the hull and not added on.
The Frank Mulder hull houses the propellers and shafts in tunnels each side of the keel, allowing the shaft angles to be reduced from 14 to 11 degrees, reducing draft to 1.13 metres. Riviera claims that the flatter shaft angles and the prop tunnels, along with increased width and reworked angles on the chines, has improved performance with a more even and easier lift onto the plane, greater stability both underway and at rest, and a softer, dryer ride.
With the twin 460hp Caterpillar C7 ACERT diesels, the Riviera 41 tops 29 knots at 2850rpm; fast cruises comfortably in smooth conditions at almost 26 knots (2500rpm) and for slower cruising will hold 20 knots at a tad over 2200rpm. At 2200 rpm, around 92 litres per hour is being consumed by the engines, enabling a cruise range of close to 400 nautical miles (or a further 100 nautical miles with the long range fuel tank option).
The boat is extremely responsive to the throttles, particularly over 1800rpm, and handles as nimbly and responsively as any flybridge convertible I’ve run to date.
The hull trims naturally flat and with the chines deflecting water down as it is displaced outward from the hull, the chance of wind blown spray coming back over the boat is reduced. With this naturally flat trim, there is little need to use the trim tabs, though they do help get the boat onto the plane at a lower speed than expected.
Volvo QL Interceptor trim tabs have been used on the Riviera 41, replacing the traditional tabs and hydraulic rams of old. The QL system uses electrically operated vertical blades housed in rectangular blocks mounted on the transom. This system, says Riviera, is easier to install and corrosion free, and with fewer moving parts, it is almost maintenance free.
The aft extended flybridge still keeps the helm chairs at the back, maintaining a good unobstructed view down into the cockpit as well as forward. Although only increasing the size of the flybridge by a small margin, the space that results is so good that Riviera now offers a table to complement the lounge seating in front of the helm console.
Injection moulding has again been used for the flybridge hardtop, reducing weight and thickness and providing a much better finished product. There are good solid grab rails fixed on the underside and I liked the hatch above the helm station, letting in a bit of breeze when the clears are all in place.
If the success of the Riviera 40 is to be a yardstick, then the 41 is going to be in big demand. The price increase is relatively small given the big advances that have been made and the special improvements that have taken place. A base boat is priced from around AUS$750,000, but expect a boat optioned with a few cruising comforts to start from around AUS$850,000.
- Design Name: Riviera 41 Open Flybridge convertible
- Year Launched: March 2007
- Designer: Frank Mulder/Neil McCabe
- Interior designer: Riviera/Neil McCabe
- Builder: Riviera
- LOA: 14.03 m
- LOH: 13.18 m
- Beam: 4.57 m
- Draft: 1.13 m
- Displacement: 13.65 tonnes (dry)
- Max. Speed: 28.9 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Fuel Capacity: 2000 litres (long range option adds 535 litres)
- Water Capacity: 460 litres
- Construction: Hand laid moulded fibreglass hull, cored deck and flybridge
- Engine (standard): 2 x 7.2 litre Caterpillar C7 ACERT turbo diesels (460hp each)
- Engine (option): 2 x 8.3 litre Cummins QSC 540 turbo diesels (540hp each)
- Base Price from: AUS $750,000 approx
- Price as reviewed: AUS $850,000 approx