TEXT BY MARK ROTHFIELD
If ever a boat was built to perform on the big stage, it’s the newly launched Riviera 78 Motor Yacht. This isn’t just the largest model the company has released but also its most concerted attempt at building the biggest and best Australian production vessel ever.
Four decades of boatbuilding knowledge, 10 years of company ownership by Rodney Longhurst, three years of design development, over 76,000 man hours and millions of dollars invested in tooling … all percolated into one very significant flagship.
“We wanted her to be powerful yet peaceful, a bluewater boat yet also the belle of the ball,” Longhurst told a select group of owners who’d boldly bought off the plan, plus dealers and media representatives, on Australia’s Gold Coast. “We fussed over every aspect.”
It also heralds a new model range, one that eschews any fishing pretence and gets into a life of bluewater voyaging without further ado. Even the venerable Riviera logo has sprouted seabird wings for this particular model to reflect a more focused expression of cruising freedom.
For the first time, Riviera’s in-house design group collaborated with Italian superyacht architect Luca Vallebona to achieve a refined European aesthetic, knowing that buyers who can afford a vessel priced from around $A6.6m will have the most discerning tastes and demands.
Pre-launch artist renderings of the Enclosed Bridge version suggested to some eyes that the vessel might be more stout than svelte in appearance, but that’s not the case when you see the real thing in the flesh. Yes, it’s tall, the benefits of which are experienced from within, but proportionally it’s fine.
Signs of clever design start, appropriately, with the boarding platform, a novel three-step arrangement that lowers in stages when you’re launching sports equipment from the garage. There’s a folding swim ladder to port.
The garage isn’t designed for a tender; instead, this will reside on the foredeck or short-term on brackets fitted to the boarding platform. The garage gate raises electrically and a freshwater shower is built into the underside. Adjacent is a service hatch for the engineroom, allowing technicians to bypass the main door in the crew quarters.
Moving up to the cockpit through double gates, you find an aft lounge, barbecue wetbar to port, plus a large dining table. Being fully-covered by the bridge overhang is what defines the motor yacht and divides it from the Sports Motor Yacht.
Straight access is afforded to the sidedecks, a feature of which are wing mouldings that hover over the hull’s descending sheerline, with an air gap between. There is also a starboard-side pantograph door amidships. Forward, a U-shaped seating area can accommodate a tender with davit.
The connection between the outdoor entertainment area and saloon is immediate and intimate.
You enter via an electric sliding door while the nearby rear bulkhead window lowers electrically rather than hinging upwards.
The U-shaped galley, set aft and to starboard, is the lynch pin of the living space and pretty well perfect for entertaining. Not one but two ovens, a four-burner hotplate, drawer dishwasher, fridges all around, storage everywhere, Corian benchtops.
What’s more, the semi-production build process allows buyers to personalise the layout and finishes to a degree. So, for instance, the saloon can have a dining table or just be a grand lounge area with a bar unit, in which case you’d dine al fresco.
A sweeping timber staircase winds down to the accommodation deck, generously infusing the atrium with natural light. It’s a suitable entrée to the main course, a full-beam master suite amidships that has hull windows either side, flat floors and high ceilings.
Its bed is king-sized and electrically adjustable. The en suite is to port and inside you’ll find a vanity with his-and-hers sinks, a walk-in shower and a toilet compartment with its own privacy door.
Moving forward, the port stateroom has the option of a double bed or twin beds that can slide together, along with direct access to the day head, while the starboard stateroom includes twin cross-over bunks.
The VIP guest stateroom is appointed with a queen-sized island berth and, of course, its own en suite. The big, dramatic hull window starts here, so again you get light and views.
OPEN OR ENCLOSED
While an Open Bridge is offered for those more inclined to roam sheltered waters, the majority of buyers will opt for the Enclosed Bridge — 100 % of the advanced orders have already indicated that. You can open the side windows, sunroof and aft doors to get the same breezy outcome.
The upper space almost mirrors that of the entertainment level, thanks to the bridge overhang. Outside, it has a bar unit, convertible dinette/sunlounge, toilet compartment, and dual docking stations with joystick controls.
Inside the bridge, it has a helm station straight from the superyacht manual, with four 24-inch Garmin screens and three forward-facing pedestal seats. You feel totally enveloped by comfort, not exposed to the elements. Noise levels never intrude on conversation.
While the thought of driving a vessel of this size and weight (56t) may seem intimidating, a generous layer of simplicity masks the technical mastery at work.
A joystick takes care of delicate manoeuvring with the help of hydraulic stern and bow thrusters while Humphree Interceptor tabs and fins automatically look after both fore-and-aft and lateral trim.
The test boat’s fins replaced a gyro and proved remarkably effective, even at rest. They save weight, space and servicing requirements. I must add, the hull turned beautifully flat and precisely while running at high speeds.
Rolls Royce uses the term “proceed” instead of “accelerate” and they’d label output from the twin MAN V12 2000hp diesel as being “sufficient”. Somehow, though, that undersells the 78MY – it has excellent punch from the hole and powers rather than proceeds to 34 knots (63km/h) at WOT (2350 rpm).
Fuel burn at this speed is just shy of 780 lt/h, so you wouldn’t do it all day, every day, with diesel at its current cost. The most efficient planing performance comes quite early on, at 1600 rpm, where you’re burning 308lt/h for a range of 570 nautical miles (1055km) at 19 knots (35.2km/h).
Compare that, though, with a mere 26lt/h at 7 knots, where cruising range is 2577 nautical miles (4773km) from a total fuel capacity of 10,200lt.
The top-spec 2000hp MANs are the same as those found in Riv’s 68/72 Sports Motor Yachts, running shafts via a well-proven vee-drive. The giant exhausts exit the hull underwater for quiet, smoke-free operation. You can specify 1550hp and 1800hp options, but I wouldn’t go smaller than 1800.
A cruiser of this size runs twin Onan 29kW gensets, a large lithium battery bank, 10 air-conditioning units and more, but the engineroom is substantial. You get full headroom and all the hallmarks of a quality build, not just quantity. The build list, incidentally, runs to 16 pages. Pricing starts at $A6.6 million, as mentioned, but will be ‘POA’ given current lead times and customisation scope.
To sum up, Riviera has built the ultimate anniversary present to mark Rodney Longhurst’s decade of ownership, instilling a wealth of ingenuity and sophistication into a deserving flagship. It’s a production boat very few could produce, a belle in which you’ll have an absolute ball.
- Boat Design Name: Riviera 78 Motor Yacht Enclosed Bridge
- Year Launched: Nov 2022
- Designer: Riviera & Luca Vallebona
- Builder: Riviera Marine
- LOA: 24.8m
- LOH: 22.1mm
- Beam: 6.0m
- Displacement: 56300 kg
- Draft: 1.90m
- Max Speed: 34 knots
- Construction: GRP Composite
- Fuel Capacity: 10200 litres
- Water Capacity: 800 litres
- Engines Make/HP: 2 x MAN V12 2000hp
- Drive Train: Conventional Shaft
- Generator: Onan
- Interceptors & Fins: Humphree
- MFDs: 4×24”Garmin
- Base Price of Boat: $Aus6.6
- Contact: Riviera Australia