Riviera set out with its latest Riviera 61 Series II to bridge the gap between its flagship 70 model and the rest of the range, and ended up with what is undoubtedly the best of both worlds!
While this latest model suggests by its very name that it is merely a reincarnation of the earlier Series I model, with a couple of changes along the way to warrant/justify a whole new marketing and media campaign that will ‘re-invent’ the model from a customer interest perspective – as I quickly ascertained during the course of my evaluation this model was completely new from the ground up; other than of course, the tried and proven Frank Mulder-designed hull shape!
“The initial plan when our design team sat down to design this boat was to create a ‘pocket 70’ if you like,” Riviera’s director of brand and communications, Stephen Milne, explained. “The 70 was a beautiful boat, but it was also a big boat to handle in a one-couple situation. At 61 feet this is a very easily managed boat for two people. Every effort has also gone into the entertaining aspect, with its large cockpit with its mezzanine level, the saloon, the flybridge level and of course the accommodation below that in the case of the master and the VIP staterooms with their mini lounges, offer guests and owners their own space, their own individual areas of the boat,” Milne enthused.
The obvious first thought when walking down the marina towards it was that this 61 Series II appeared to be just another big Riviera flybridge cruiser, albeit with a fully enclosed flybridge which ‘elevated’ it in stature somewhat. But step onto the hydraulically-operated ‘rise and fall’ swim platform extension and right from the get-go the difference, the influence of the (Riviera) 70 was obvious. This cockpit was large enough to accept an elevated ‘mezzanine level’ for want of better terminology, complete with highly visible yet entirely durable suede-finish ‘Macro Marine’ lounge seats each side of a fold-over solid wood (teak) table.
All this, yet there was still enough room left in the cockpit to enjoy all the things you would normally do in a cockpit; sportfishing, swimming diving or whatever! It was all good, with features such as good side coamings, underfloor and lazarette storage, refrigeration in the base of the mezzanine module and an ice-box under the step by the magnificent Aritex saloon door. An obligatory (cantilevered) lift-up S/S barbeque was in the centre of the transom, conveniently with a garbage bin alongside, and for the fishermen there was a wall-mounted tackle locker cupboard in the bulkhead wall, with below it and under a hatch, a cockpit sink with H&C water.
I must add I did appreciate the two steps on the inside of the cockpit on both sides, which provided good access either onto a marina from the side, or indeed up and on to the walkways which courtesy of well-placed grab rails and the bowrail assembly, provided a nice wide and safe trip forward to the foredeck. The 450kg ADC davit and the tender package of 3.4m Caribe RIB and 40hp Tohatsu outboard which were cradle-mounted immediately forward of the windscreen mullions understandably took up a sizeable proportion of this foredeck, yet there was still good access to the neat Muir anchoring feature on the moulded bowsprit. Up on deck and looking back at this Riviera 61, one definitely got a good feel for the enormity and volume of this boat!
Convenient aft galley
While this well-protected mezzanine level was perfect from an outdoors entertaining perspective, it also flowed nicely (thanks to the hopper window) into the saloon – and the aft galley which was in very close proximity. With panoramic 360-degree views for the chef, this galley was precisely what you would expect in an unadulterated luxury guise, with Miele 4-burner stove, range-hood, convection microwave oven, heaps of overhead and below bench-level cupboards and easy glide ‘soft-close’ drawers, a decent-sized sink and even a garbage which was recessed into the granite bench top.
The other very big ‘plus’ was the six refrigeration drawers – four within the actual confines of this U-shaped galley module (two fridges and two freezers) and two fridges and an ice-maker in the magnificent stairway module opposite. Complete with a most impressive stainless steel and gloss embossed non-skid teak staircase atop a gloss cherrywood base which housed the bar cabinets and a truly regal glass or bottle cabinet which rose up out of the top of this module – this aspect alone was truly indicative of the far-reaching ‘effort’ Riviera had gone to, with this particular model.
The Amtico flooring at the ‘high-traffic’ entry and galley was replaced by the more luxurious carpet option as I ventured forward into the decidedly more formal area of the saloon. In effect two lounges which surrounded the perimeter of this spacious open-plan area, layout was a ‘coffee’ setting of L-shaped lounge and solid cherry Otterman table to portside, opposite a four-person dining setting of an equally magnificent cherry table surrounded by a U-shaped leather lounge.
This saloon was ‘warm’ and inviting with its predominant décor theme of deep high-gloss cherrywood, leather lounges, plush wall and ceiling panels and generous lashings of stainless steel. Endearing creature comforts included electrically operated drop-down blinds, padded screen pillars, the typically-Riviera rod locker which hinged out of the ceiling, the overhead grab-rail feature that ran the full length of the saloon, and the ‘cherry’ front bulkhead complete with DVD and MP3 station. Opposite this on the other side of the walkway to the accommodation level below, was a free-standing 42-inch television.
Multiple layout options
Fanning out from the central companionway below decks was in true Riviera tradition, a flexible two-, three- or four-cabin layout configuration; in this instance the owner had opted for a (two stateroom and one twin-single) three-cabin version. Presented as in the case of the saloon in a pleasant contrast of carpet, plush fabric panelling, drop-down fabric blinds, feature headboards and just enough wood to maintain the ‘warm-contemporary’ look, the cabin to starboard at the bottom of the stairs can either be a utility or ‘white’ room, or a bedroom. In this instance the owner chose a twin-single room, complete with opening porthole and hatch above (plenty of natural light and ventilation), and an athwartships lower berth and fore and aft upper berth.
For’ard of this room was the day head, a surprisingly spacious and well lit and ventilated room with separate head, shower and vanity complete with raised sink and Corian bench-top and surrounds. And for’ard of this again is where it can change significantly between the three layout options, for you can either have a laundry in the companionway as in this instance (with linen cupboard opposite); or a second starboard Pullman-style cabin; or, as in this example, a day lounge within the for’ard Guest VIP stateroom.
Eloquently embracing the luxury theme, this VIP stateroom in the bow was a very spacious room indeed, in the context of most bow cabins. Obviated by the day lounge, if this was my boat this would be precisely the layout I would choose, for this was another area of this 61 where you could definitely have your own space! Other attributes within this VIP guest room included cantilevering wall-mounted television, pigeon-hole storage lockers, queen-size island berth, overhead hatch, his and her cedar-lined (I just love the smell of cedar) hanging wardrobes and of course its own dedicated ensuite bathroom with separate head, shower cubicle and vanity with raised ‘feature’ sink.
Opposite the house bathroom was the rather salubrious master stateroom, complete in all its grandeur with a full-length side viewing window and alongside it, a round ship-style opening porthole – very nautical, uniquely individual, and very appealing! Other eye-catching features included the large overhead hatch, ensuite bathroom, cedar-lined full-height wardrobe, television, stereo, feature headboard with mirror insert, under-berth, bedside and wall storage, and a queen-size fore and aft berth.
Finally, my investigative and most enlightening sojourn led me up the surprisingly wide internal stairway in the saloon, to the flybridge level. Fully enclosed and of course air-conditioned, this level was very much another saloon such was its presentation, space allocation and yes, inviting ambience. The skipper and friend seated at the two Pompanette skippers chairs had before them a most grandiose well-spec’d selection of instrumentation and remote controls, including two screens for the Raymarine E140 electronics package.
For the invited guests the rather opulent ‘entertainment’ package behind the skipper included lift-up concertina blinds, an overhead electrically-operated sun-roof, a wall lounge and folding cherry table, with opposite this a wall-mounted television below the granite-topped bar module complete with sink, icemaker, grab rail and substantial glass and bottle storage. The aft hopper window combined nicely with the side windows and sun-roof to provide plenty of fresh air and cross-drafts on the warmer days – very European in appearance!
And if you wanted more fresh air or indeed to have a closer look at where you have just been, the Aritex door at the aft of this room leads out onto a rather pleasant aft-facing viewing platform complete with Macro Marine bench lounge, and to starboard of the door, the outside remote helm station. All in all a neat and endearing area of the Riviera; yet another place where you could have your very own space!
As good as the Riviera 61 looked, my afternoon out on the bay confirmed this hull had certainly lost none of its zip, and none of its handling prowess. Power in this instance was a couple of behemoth V12, 32-litre, 1572hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels coupled to Twin Disc MGX 6599A (ratio 2.48:1) gearboxes driving conventional shafts, to a pair of Veem 6-blade 36”D x 52.5”P propellers – impressive power in anyone’s language!
Access through a lift-up seat on the cockpit mezzanine level, the engine room you would think would be rather chokka – yet there was still room to get between them and around the outside, for maintenance purposes. Perhaps even more of a feat, they had managed to include in this well lit and presented room also, a trash compactor so the ‘smells’ stay below decks, the air-conditioning, the eight rather substantial Mastervolt batteries, the genset, watermaker, and the 5,700-litre integral GRP diesel tank which as per Riviera tradition was the bulkhead ahead of the engines.
Underway the 61 was an absolute pleasure to drive, a very good sea boat. Sea-kindly would sum it up best in fact for it cruised with consummate no-fuss ease yet when you put it into a tight turn at the generous cruise speed of 30 knots, and it just went around without fuss and without too much lean-in. The Mulder influence was definitely there with the underhull shape, for there was no hesitation as you rolled over a wave top and into the next, which suggested it had a nice fine entry which very quickly flattened out to provide the buoyancy required to maintain momentum – especially important in a following sea.
Balance and stability were good too, I would suggest courtesy of the 5700-litre fuel tank being located amidships. Interestingly, while this boat will open out to a top speed of 36 knots-plus at half ships, the efficiency of the hull was such that it still did 35 knots the day of our test, at heavy ships – surely testament to a well-designed hull.
I am going to be very brave, very bold and openly suggest this is the best Riviera ever, a quintessential step up again from anything Riviera has ever built before. A decidedly ‘quiet’ hull underway and certainly a proven handler and performer which comfortably and efficiently cruised at anything from 24 to 30 knots, this boat oozed class from stem to stern. As Stephen Milne says, “With the world exchange rates the way they are at present, the Australian product poses a challenge to compete dollar for dollar. As we also compete with manufacturers in other currency/economic zones, the only way to compete on the world stage, is with quality.”
That puts it all into perspective; this boat was something very special, a cruiser above and beyond anything Riviera had hitherto produced – a virtual flagship which is priced from $2.2 million.
- Boat Design Name: Riviera 61 Series II Enclosed Flybridge
- Year Launched: 2011
- Designer: Frank Mulder/Riviera
- Interior Designer: Riviera
- Builder: Riviera
- LOA: 19.63 m
- LWL: 18.60 m
- Beam: 5.40 m
- Draft: 1.58 m
- Displacement: 30,500 kg
- Max Speed: 35 knots
- Cruise Speed: 30 knots
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Cap: 5700 litres
- Water Cap: 1000 litres
- Engines Make: Twin 1572hp Cat C32
- Gearboxes: Twin Disc MGX 6599A
- Drive Train: Conventional shaft drive
- Propellers: Veem 6-blade 36”D x 52.5”P
- Generator: Onan 22.5 kVA
- Inverter / charger: Mastervolt 5kW
- Air Conditioning: Cruisair (114,000btu/h)
- Watermaker: Horizon
- Bow thruster: Side-Power / 10.7 hp
- Stern thruster: Side-Power / 10.7 hp
- Anchor winch: Muir Atlantic VFF 2200
- Anchors: Muir Plough 100 lbs
- Steering: SeaStar / Riviera
- Engine controls: Twin Disc
- Lighting: Cantalupi
- Paint: Gelcoat
- Paint (antifouling): Wattyl Sea Pro
- Hatches: Bomar
- Wipers: Exalto
- Windscreens: Riviera
- Porthole Hatches: Bowmar / Riviera
- Heads: Dometic SeaLand
- Wood Finish: Gloss cherry
- Davit crane/Passerella: ADC 400kg
- Tender: Caribe 3.2m
- Stainless steel: Riviera
- Saloon doors: Aritex S/S
- Trim tabs: Volvo Penta Interceptor QL
- Helm chair: Pompanette
- Upholstery: Riviera
- Autopilot: Raymarine ST70
- GPS: Raymarine W140
- Plotter: Raymarine E140
- Depth sounder: DSM300/B258
- VHF: Raymarine Ray 218E
- Radar: Raymarine 4kW, 48NM
- Entertainment: Clarion & Bose stereo
- Engine instruments: Caterpillar
- Software system: Raymarine
- Switch panel: BEP Marine
- Base price of boat: $Aus2,212,071
- Price as tested: $Aus2,759,836