Author : Barry Tyler
To compete genuinely and seriously with the overseas plethora of contemporary Sports style craft used by the rich and famous you need a similarly fastidious approach to design, specification and presentation. Until now the Europeans have had this market virtually to themselves, but The Riviera Group hopes to change all that with the latest addition to its Sport Yacht range, the Riviera 5800SY.
Riviera Marine has heralded a change in tactics, and definitely styling, with the release of this latest model; it is just so very new and so very different from the traditional cruiser models it has produced to date. Maybe it is a signal perhaps of a change of tactics for Riviera but I must say I for one am pleased to see it happen for I have long subscribed to the theory that while there are any number of European marques that reach our shores, the demand must surely be such that a local manufacturer could take up the challenge and produce a like vessel which matched the styling and specification of its European counterparts. Locally, we produce a high quality of boat; we use much the same materials, high-quality fittings and equipment, so why not adopt the same approach to futuristic styling as do the Europeans, and compete head to head?
Certainly, from first impressions it appeared (quite by coincidence) that Riviera had done precisely that for as I moved closer to the Riviera 5800 I also began to appreciate its efforts to match/emulate its high-profile opposition. The other most obvious first impression was the sheer volume of the hull; this was going to be a very ‘big’ boat inside as well – but first the outside. Stepping on board, the teak-lined rise and fall boarding platform was sublime in area and a most regal staircase each side of the secreted garage, which incidentally housed the 3.20m RIB tender, led you up and onto an outdoor entertainer’s delight.
Features up on this outdoors level of debauchery included a sumptuous lounge in front of the athwart-beam electric rise and fall teak table, a wet-bar, icemaker, electric BBQ and an overhead fixed canopy which all but encapsulated the entire cockpit area. Off each side of the confines of the cockpit were wide walkways which led you along to the foredeck area. The outer sides of these walkways were high enough that they could almost be considered bulwarks, offering excellent protection and safety for those who wished to avail themselves of the massive sun-pad on the foredeck.
Very contemporary, very European and before I continue I should perhaps point out that I have absolutely no problems at all with comparing this Riviera to the Euro boats, or with Riviera unashamedly styling its boats in the same fashion. Give customers what they want – the number of European boats sold here must surely indicate that this styling is undeniably the styling of choice for discerning boaters who appreciate the finer things in life.
I also mentioned ‘unashamedly’ before, and the response of Riviera’s Stephen Milne empathised with my very first comment about this styling similarity, virtually summing up my own thoughts. “A lot of the European boats understandably target their local markets and as such the styling while appealing on the outside, is somewhat one-dimensional when it comes to interiors; they are presented exceptionally well, but designed to solely address European expectations,” Milne explained. “On the other hand we here at Riviera have adopted this universally acceptable exterior styling standard – European styling if you like – but interior-wise one very quickly appreciates the fact that this flagship model of the Sport Yacht range is unmistakably still very much Riviera Marine.”
Stepping into the saloon was akin to stepping into a most contemporary apartment; opulence personified, with a place for everything. Yes there was a hint of Riviera, certainly in the approach to some of the features, but for me the reality was the members of the design team have outdone themselves with the interior styling as well. It was quite different and more upmarket than anything Riviera has hitherto produced. Well, apart that is from their recently launched flagship 85 model, which is opulent in another kind of way.
What I did like about this room was the way it opened up to become ‘one’ with the cockpit, simply by flicking the switch (that mysteriously on this occasion seemed to take an eternity to raise and lower) and lowering the portside bulkhead window adjacent to the aft galley, and sliding the larger starboard side (Taiwanese) Aritex saloon door across to port. Lounging back in the plush leather lounge to portside, I was quick to appreciate this aft galley that allowed the chef to still be part of the proceedings, whilst preparing the meal du jour. And what a galley – absolutely nothing was lacking in this U-shaped gourmet chef’s delight; items such as dishwasher, granite-style and stainless steel bench-tops, convection oven, 4-burner stove top, drawer-style refrigerators and freezers (two of each) and even a garbage storage facility, all confirmed the 5800’s aptitude for cruising for extended periods.
I especially liked the two very contemporary bar stools around the other side of the galley module, which provided the perfect setting for breakfast or simply conversing with the chef while he/she is preparing your meal. Contemporary in fact best described this whole saloon or living area, the separate facets of galley, the state-of-the art BEP CZone switch panel module, the dining setting, the entertainment module opposite, and the sports helm station, all combining well while at the same time retaining their individualistic charm and appeal.
Design flair and innovation were apparent, but significant contributing factors to the ambience of this room were the wide beam and therefore spaciousness, and the ‘soothing’ décor. The contrast between the impressive cherry wood finish, the plush and over-lapping ceiling and wall panels, the pleated blinds, the Amtico flooring, the feature ceiling above, and of course the forward starboard side helm station (complete with twin leather helm chairs) which offered a distinct feeling of pride, all combined appealingly well. The electronics package at the helm station was in this instance a Raymarine E120, which complemented the Volvo Penta instrumentation, steering and remote controls.
This whole setting eloquently invited me to sit down and enjoy, especially with the sound of the Panasonic 40-inch LCD (integrated into the Bose Lifestyle system) doing its thing in the background, but not before I ventured below, down the most elegant stairway to a companionway which offered a real hint as to the true ‘volume’ of this Riviera. There weren’t just a couple of stairs down to this level; it was a veritable staircase complete may I add, with a leather-bound hand-rail. The attention to detail even with a seemingly innocuous item such as a handrail, offered very tangible evidence of Riviera’s commitment to the ‘right image’.
Remarkably, and I guess it is indicative of the choices Riviera offers with its larger models, the 5800 has the option of either a three- or four-bedroom layout. Well staterooms actually – in the true sense of the ideal. Again very contemporary in layout and appointments, the ‘Queen’ guest stateroom was in the bow; to portside was a Pullman-style top and bottom bunk layout perfect for the little ones, and opposite this was a twin-single cabin which converted easily and quickly into another queen-berth cabin.
The Master Stateroom aft of these and virtually amidships in the vessel, was the absolute epitome of luxury, catering capably well in every facet to the wants and needs of the skipper and the lady of the house. The full-beam volume of this room was sublime, thanks to the engine configuration which was located well aft. Features here included a king-size walk-around berth amidships, vertical hull-side windows either side, a walk-in wardrobe, a vanity table built into the starboard side, and an ensuite bathroom to port. The entertainment system comprised a 26-inch LCD TV integrated with an AM.FM/DVD player and four Bose speakers.
The VIP guest stateroom forward was a queen island-berth layout, with additional features as in the cases of the starboard ‘twin’ cabin and the portside double cabin, such as hanging lockers, pigeon wall lockers, opening portholes, overhead hatch, a 19-inch LCD TV again complemented by a Clarion AM/FM/DVD player. The VIP room also enjoyed an adjoining bathroom complete, as in the case of the master, with a separate shower, vanity and mirrored cabinet, Tecma silent-flush head, Amtico flooring and an overhead deck hatch.
I alluded earlier to the engine bulkhead aft again of the utility room (that would also ideally double as crews’ quarters or children’s accommodation) and yet again Riviera has stepped outside its traditional comfort zone, with the power source. Volvo IPS pod-drive systems are by no means new to Riviera – they are used successfully on the 44 Sport Yacht model – but in this instance the design team has opted for a triple-rig engine and drive configuration inserted into the engine room. An engine room incidentally which while already compromised slightly by the intrusion of the garage configuration for the 3.5m tender, was still spacious enough to house this trio of 5.5-litre, inline 6-cylinder 435mhp Volvo Penta IPS600 diesel engines as well as the 22kVA Onan genset, the 24kW of air conditioning, the battery banks, the chargers and inverter, and the 2650-litre fuel tank.
That’s a lot of gear in a boat, a lot of weight in fact, but quite incredibly as I was to discover during the course of the sea trial, this 19.2m (overall) long, 5.38m wide, 22,500kg composite flagship of the Sport yacht range, still managed a top speed of 29 knots and because the Volvos are so efficient at a respectable mid-range speed, it enjoyed an equally impressive cruise speed of 25 to 26 knots.
There was no squatting in the bum either under out of the blocks or underway, its acceleration was quite staggering, and it turned and handled like a bonafide sports boat. Out in the open water it certainly soaked up all the bumps with consummate ease; whatever they have done to the ‘bum’ of this design that is brand new from top to bottom – has really worked. Apparent as we motored out to the channel markers, was the all-round ‘quietness’ through the water. “When you get below,” Stephen Milne enthused, “you will see for yourself that we have gone to great lengths with every facet of sound-proofing.”
The other ride characteristic I was suitably impressed with was as we increased speed slightly, the distinct lack of a wake of any significance – efficiency through the water was obviously its number one feature. The ride actually reminded me very much of the sensation of touring in a Bentley or Rolls Royce, for this boat offered the same sereneness and air of accomplishment; it just got on with the job without any fuss or adverse reactions, when offered increased power! The faster it went the less the speed sensation was, for at this top speed of a shade under 30 knots (29.3 knots two-way average to be precise) you literally felt like you could get out and walk.
I know it is a very big call but in my humble opinion this 5800 Sports Yacht is the best boat Riviera has ever produced. Finish is exemplary, equipment sourced from around the world is the very best money can buy, and the hull itself – well, the design team have excelled themselves. Riviera has indeed produced a model which genuinely competes with the best the rest of the world has to offer – and it still comes in under the magic $A2-million mark, even after you have added all the ‘must-have’ items!
- Design Name: Riviera 5800 Sport Yacht
- Designer: Riviera
- Interior Designer: Riviera
- Builder: Riviera
- LOA: 19.30 metres
- Beam: 5.38 metres
- LWL: 17.60 metres
- Draft: 1.28 metres
- Displacement: 22,500 kg
- Max Speed: 29 knots
- Cruise Speed: 26 knots
- Construction: Composite FRP with High Modulus Smart Pac
- Fuel Cap: 2650 litres
- Water Cap: 750 litres
- Engines Make: 3 x 435 hp
- Base Price of Boat: $A1,850,000
- Price As Tested: $A1,950,000