Author : David Toyer
Life Begins at 70
Riviera’s new 70 Enclosed Flybridge may be the largest production boat currently built in Australia, but it does come with a certain degree of customisation.
In the years between Alan Bond’s victory in the America’s Cup off Newport Rhode Island, on 26 September 1983, and the losing of the Cup to Dennis Conner on 4 February 1987, off Fremantle, Western Australia’s Precision Marine became a household name in Australia. Not only were Precision Marine’s cruisers the most sought after of the time, but also the company could lay claim to having the biggest and fastest production flybridge cruiser in the country.
It seemed like everyone who was anyone, and those who wanted to ‘be seen’ ordered a Precision 40 – and wanted it before the America’s Cup defence.
“Life begins at 40” was Precision’s advertising slogan – a 40-foot flybridge cruiser that did 40 knots, and a little more subtly, many of the successful tycoons lining up with cheque book in hand were just into their forties.
Those with the money were buying a Precision 40 for under a million dollars. It was the boat of the time. It was sleek and powerful, was fast, and had very a luxurious and extensively personalised interior décor.
In early 1987, on the opposite side of the country, on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Riviera was then still a relatively new company, but because of the buyer interest that had been shown in its new Bill Barry-Cotter creations, was slowly increasing its production rate and growing its model range to eventually include a forty footer.
Just over 21 years later, Riviera launched its 70 Enclosed Flybridge at the Sydney International Boat Show, touting this as the largest production boat yet to be built in Australia. While this boat doesn’t do 70 knots and I doubt if any of the five buyers who have already placed orders for this boat are around 70, I whimsically pose the question, “does life now begin at 70?”
In almost three decades since the Precision 40 was all the rage, things have changed dramatically in the boating industry. Fuel efficiency and cruising range are taking precedence, followed by practical layout, standard facilities and inclusions, along with accommodation and the ability to be almost self sufficient when you are talking bigger, long range cruisers.
Production with a Twist
While there is no doubt that the Riviera 70 can claim to be the biggest locally built production cruiser, this is a boat far from being a standard, punch-em-out-one-after-the-other, production line model.
When you are talking $A5million you don’t want a boat that is the same as every other. You want a boat that is you; a boat that is planned, equipped and built to meet your own needs; your lifestyle and your tastes.
Consequently the Riviera 70 is a customised “production” boat; built only to order and, within limits, built as the buyer would like. While the primary components of hull, deck and superstructure remain the same, there is a degree of flexibility with the layout; the equipment and facilities, and as always, the décor. In its base plan, the Riviera 70 is a four-cabin/four-bathroom boat with flexibility to sleep from 8 to 14 people.
The amidships, full-width master stateroom is the highlight of the below-deck layout. The island king-size bed is flanked by bedside tables and walk-in robes, and the large portholes each side bathe the cabin with natural light. However, at night this cabin is spectacular, with a mix of concealed wall lamps and overhead downlights. A small settee to port and dressing table to starboard complete this cabin.
The guests’ stateroom is positioned in the bow, though the 70 on display at SIBS was a bit different in that it replaced this forward double-berth stateroom with dual twin-berth crew and guest cabins. This crew cabin, with a ladder at the end of the bunks, could also be accessed via the foredeck hatch rather than having to go through the boat itself.
Each side of the companionway linking the forward and amidships staterooms are the other two-berth cabins, each of which can be fitted out with twin or triple bunks, double berths, or a combination. Each of the four cabins is served by its own ensuite bathroom.
There is no better way to summarise the saloon than to use Riviera’s own words –“it has the ambience and space of a luxury apartment”.
A huge leather lounge to port, and ottomans fitting neatly in under the coffee table when not in use, provide ample seating to relax, enjoy the view and partake of the facilities offered by the fully equipped bar and listen to the superb sound produced by the Bose Lifestyle 48 entertainment system and the 42” LCD TV.
The dining area is quite formal, with a spectacular dining table surrounded by eight plush leather chairs, while the highly lacquered timber veneered bulkhead panels forward of the dining area conceal the utility room with washer and dryer and a multi temperature zone wine storage cabinet.
The galley can only be described as huge – it’s got more bench space than my kitchen at home! Miele appliances include microwave combi oven with grill, dishwasher, drawer style refrigerator and freezer, four-burner induction cooktop and rangehood, and to top it all off, an espresso coffee machine.
With a fabulous alfresco dining area out on the two-level cockpit, it is always going to be debatable whether the galley should be located forward or aft in the saloon. Both are possible and it all comes down to personal taste and how you plan to use the boat.
Me – I would put the galley aft where the huge stainless steel framed awning window would open the galley to the cockpit, serving directly to what is a wonderful eating area − be it in the middle of the day, (there is adequate sun protection with the overhanging flybridge deck and awning above) or at anchor on a calm, peaceful, balmy evening. This is a far more casual dining experience and more likened to a relaxed boating lifestyle, than sitting around the dining table. But for formal entertaining, the dining table is probably more suited and certainly is more spacious.
But with the galley forward, the saloon is more interactive with the cockpit and offers a visually larger and more open saloon.
This aft alfresco area looks down over the main cockpit where there is plenty of space for loose casual chairs if you need to entertain a bigger crowd. Tucked back under the higher mezzanine level of the cockpit is the access into the engine room, along with an electric barbeque and some very well conceived freezer and refrigeration storage. This boat is serious about its capabilities for long distance cruising, with more than 10 separate fridge and freezer units scattered about the place.
The cockpit can be customised for serious gamefishing, with space to add game chairs, outriggers, bait and other wet tanks.
To the starboard side of the saloon, an internal staircase leads up to the enclosed flybridge. This stairwell can be closed off at flybridge floor level with rather complex looking, yet simple, power operated interlocking hatches, effectively isolating the flybridge from the rest of the boat.
This almost fully self contained flybridge is spectacular. It’s air conditioned via a dedicated 14kW reverse cycle system, has an electric sliding sunroof to enable the crew or guests to be comfortable no matter the weather conditions, dual stations via the main helm console itself, which extends the full width of the flybridge and has three leather upholstered Pompanette Platinum helm chairs. It also has a docking station complete with engine display panels, twin lever controls, thruster controls and VHF radio remote, out on the aft flybridge deck. This serves as both a docking station and for gamefishing operations. An aft-facing lounge sits over the top of an extra ice box, and like the main saloon below, the rear bulkhead has a hatch-style window that opens the flybridge out onto the aft deck area.
There’s a galley with sink, microwave, drawer fridge and icemaker, bottle and glass storage, a granite workbench, plus a flat-screen TV, all built-in along the aft starboard side, opposite a 6- to 7-person L-shaped lounge. This lounge can convert to extra sleeping space if required.
Day/night blinds to all windows provide control of light, sun and privacy, and I did say the flybridge was almost self contained – the only thing missing is a bathroom.
The base 70 is powered by twin 1570hp C32 Cats which Riviera states should push the boat to a better than 30-knot top speed. The boat reviewed stepped up to the 1825hp C32 Cat ACERTs, providing better than 33.5 knots at the top end.
The standard 8000-litre fuel tank allows a cruising range at 10 knots of close on 1300 nautical miles, while at the 27 knots/1900rpm that we found so very comfortable during our test, this range is around 550 nautical miles.
Whether you spend a long time living aboard, or tackling long offshore passages, size matters, and it matters in that there is space to accommodate all the comforts of home without being squeezed, and it matters when it comes to all those on-board comforts and the ease of the ride during those continuous and sometimes monotonous hours at sea. It also matters if you need to beat a weather change back to safe shelter. And this big Riviera 70 has all of that.
Long Distance Cruiser
Admittedly our time at sea wasn’t in big seas, but we could have maintained 27 knots at 1900rpm all day long. There wasn’t a shudder or thump, and no spray over the bow, just any easy motion with hardly a sound to be heard inside the flybridge.
With all the standard amenities, the accommodation, the self sufficient facilities, the Riviera 70 is a genuine long distance cruiser, that also could be fitted out for gamefishing, charter work, or as a corporate entertainer.
The Riviera 70 project started more than five years ago, with company designers talking to existing boat owners as to their wants and needs in a larger boat. These were discerning clients who knew their boat, knew their aspirations, and knew what they needed in a long-distance cruiser.
Naval architect Frank Mulder was brought in to refine a hull that would be more fuel efficient, and provide a dry and comfortable ride.
The fact that orders were placed for five boats well before the first one rolled out of the factory is testimony to the faith that customers had in the design team and the company behind the development and construction of what the company perceives as the ultimate Riviera.
The quality of the finishes, the standard of the décor and the clever use of concealed and ‘effect’ lighting see this as not just the largest Riviera to date, but also the most impressive and spectacular model I’ve been aboard.
- Design Name: Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge
- Builder: Riviera
Hull Designer: Riviera / Frank Mulder)
- Interior Designer: Riviera
- Year Launched: 2008
- LOA: 23.34m
- LWL: 19.45m
- Beam: 6.32m
- Draft: 1.70m
- Displacement (Dry): 49 tonnes
- Max Speed: 33.5 knots
- Cruise Speed: 27 knots
- Fuel: 8000 litres
- Water: 1000 litres
- Water Maker: HRO 1800
- Construction: Hand laid GRP & core.
- Engines: 2 x Caterpillar C32 ACERT @ 1825hp