BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 40 PLATINUM FLYBRIDGE CONVERTIBLE
Riviera adds a new sporty dimension to its look as it enters the 21st century. DAVID GRANVILLE reckons the swoopy new lines of the Riviera 40 should appeal to a wide spectrum of boating enthusiasts...
AUGUST, 2000 - The new-look Riviera 40 Platinum Flybridge Convertible heralds a new era for one of the world's leading big-boat marques. To be frank, it represents a quantum leap for Riviera - a boatbuilder that to date has capitalised on a distinct but conservative style.
We detected something special when we first laid eyes on artist impressions of the new Riviera 40 early this year. Unfortunately, like most of the boating world we had to wait until the official launch at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May before eyeballing one in the 'flesh'.
While the vessel on display at Sanctuary Cove was the first to be viewed by the Australian public, it was actually hull number seven out of the mould. That's right, even at that early stage, six Riviera 40s had already departed our shores destined for lucky American and European customers.
Sanctuary Cove was the ideal location for Riviera to release the new model. Quite apart from being the pre-eminent big-boat show Down Under, it's quite literally on Riviera's home turf with its newly completed $25m production facility just around the corner. Having more than 40,000 people frequent your launch over a few days isn't a bad move either.
What is first noticeable about the Riviera 40 is its modern appearance. It's a difference that's especially apparent side-by-side with its older siblings. Although Riviera has always been at the forefront of big-boat design and construction in Australia, there's no doubt its flybridge models were starting to look a little dated.
That criticism has certainly been answered with this new model. The sleek, flowing lines of the 40 are cutting edge and as it evolves through the range should take the company well into this century.
It should also be recognised that Riviera doesn't make a style change of such magnitude willy-nilly. To that effect, it's deadly serious about the dramatic 'facelift'.
After all the suspense and build-up of waiting to see the new model, we still didn't obtain a good look inside at the Cove. Each time we made it to the marina during the boat show the cockpit of the new 40 was filled with admirers. However, we did manage to arrange a boat test just after the show, where yours truly had the boat all to myself and as much time as I wanted to check out all the nooks and crannies.
Our scheduled test day for the 40 was one of those classic Queensland winter days, which, unfortunately, seem to have been few and far between lately. Clear blue sky, 24°C, next to no wind, and a flat ocean. While a perfect day for taking photographs, the Riv's seakeeping abilities were never going to be really tested.
I boarded the 40 at the Runaway Bay fuel wharf on the Southport Broadwater, where it had just been laden with 1100lt of fuel in its 1600lt tank. (I'm glad boat testers don't have to pay the fuel bill for the day!) The twin 430hp Cummins diesels were fired up and as we made our way out of the marina, all eyes were upon us - this new boat certainly turns heads!
Once clear of the marina, the throttles went down and the big diesels sprung to life. It was surprising how effortlessly we were on the plane and hitting express cruise speeds at the blink of an eye. For a 40-footer this is a quick boat, with the twin 430hp Cummins' providing ample power.
At 2400rpm we were cruising at a sprightly 26kt, while pedal to the metal at 2600rpm saw the GPS register 30kt. Of course, at these revs it helps to have shares in an oil company, however keeping the cruise speed to a more realistic 20-22kt sees the engines working at much more economical revs.
We headed offshore through the Southport seaway but might as well have stayed in the Broadwater. Apart from a lazy metre of groundswell the ocean was dead flat, and as I looked down to a compass that read 90°, I wondered why I was working and not out fishing.
It was time to put the new boat through its paces. How does it handle rough water? I'll have to get back to you on that one. Generally, the handling was excellent and you were given the impression you were driving a much smaller boat.
It's worth noting that the hull upon which the 40 is based is one of the more popular within the Riviera range. In creating the 40, Riviera took the proven 39 hull and began massaging. Below the waterline it's unchanged, above there's been considerable work done on the shape of the bow, with more rake added to the stem and more flare. Of course, the sheer has been changed too, as well as detailed items such as the air intakes, etc.
Close-quarters manoeuvrability was very good, with it possible to spin the boat on its own length.
Backing up, it was quite responsive with very little water making it over the covering boards; however, quite a lot entered the cockpit between the base of the transom door and the cockpit sole. If the vessel was to be used for gamefishing, I would put a non-return flap on the transom door and, of course, remove the rear awning which was restricting the view of the cockpit.
ONE WITH THE LOT... OF COURSE
The extensive list of features on the Riviera 40 begins at the transom, with a good-sized swim platform with a cleverly concealed ladder integrated within. The swim platform provides the easiest access to the vessel, either from the pontoon, jetty or the water. A hinged transom door folds inboard to allow access to the cockpit via the swim platform, eliminating the need to swing the leg over. The transom door probably isn't quite big enough to accommodate a grander marlin but it wouldn't be far off and is plenty big enough to allow the cocktail set and active kids easy access.
Heavy-duty stainless steel cleats are recessed into each transom corner, which aids mooring operations and helps keep the cockpit free from unsightly lines. Also incorporated in the transom bulkhead is a large bait well which could be plumbed for livies, or alternatively, Riviera has a purpose-built livewell with viewing panel which fits in this position. Personally, I would prefer to stick with the well on the testboat and have it plumbed as it doesn't encroach into the cockpit like the optional model.
The cockpit on the testboat featured a beautiful teak-laid deck, with central and starboard hatches providing access to the bilge, while the portside hatch features a large fishbox. Other features of the cockpit include storage hatches in the port, starboard and transom coamings, as well as padded cockpit bolsters. Covering boards feature a total of five flush-mounted rodholders and two pop-up fender cleats.
At the forward end of the cockpit is a good-sized freezer and a small sink with freshwater faucet. The sink assembly is hinged and when opened, provides access to the engineroom. Over the freezer is the access ladder from the cockpit to the flybridge. I noticed that this ladder has been beefed up considerably from earlier Riviera models, which were considered a little on the flimsy side.
Against the starboard bulkhead, directly opposite the engineroom access, is a concealed rubbish compartment. This is a great idea, as there just never seems to be a definitive position for rubbish on a boat.
Enter the cabin via the door on the starboard side and you find yourself in the saloon, where you are greeted by magnificent glossy timbers and exquisite leather upholstery. Upon entering the saloon you'll find a large L-shaped lounge directly on the portside which has a fold-out (sofa-bed style) double berth hidden below.
Opposite the lounge, against the starboard bulkhead, is an icemaker, storage drawers and switch panelling. Forward of this is another L-shaped lounge, this one serviced by a dinette. The cabinetry directly above houses a combined TV/VCR, with Clarion CD player and stacker centrally mounted.
A couple of steps down is a gourmet galley featuring granicote benchtops and sink, two-burner electric hotplates and ample storage space. Fridge/freezer, microwave oven and dishwasher are all located under the benchtops. A void located beneath the galley floor can be utilised as storage space thanks to some hinges and a couple of gas struts. This is a great position to store non-perishable food, as well as the odd case of lemonade.
The companionway leads to the guest cabin which is located on the starboard side. The guest stateroom features three single bunks, one of which folds away to provide additional floor space and aid access to the combined washing machine/dryer.
Opposite the guest cabin is a well-appointed bathroom, which can be accessed from both the companionway or master cabin. Features of the bathroom include a vacuflush toilet, washbasin with storage below, vanity with mirror, and various towel rails. The shower stall features a glass enclosure and moulded seating.
The master stateroom is forward with a large island berth taking centre stage. Three timber storage hatches are provided along port and starboard bulkheads, while hanging space is located at the aft end of the cabin. Just watch you don't find yourself wearing the wrong clothes as this hanging wardrobe is shared from the guest cabin.
A stylish circular ventilation hatch is located overhead, while airconditioning controls are located just inside the cabin door.
As mentioned earlier, access to the flybridge has improved thanks to a more solid ladder. Once upstairs you are greeted by an ergonomically-designed helm console, which has been finished in a beige colour to reduce glare.
Pedestal seating is provided for both helmsman and passenger, with all electronics and gauges in clear view and within easy reach. The testboat was fitted with Raytheon chartplotter, sounder and autopilot.
Vision from the flybridge is excellent, with sight lines well thought out. Indeed, I found the 40 a pleasure to drive, with good vision from bow to stern adding to the aforementioned sense of the boat being smaller than it really is.
In front of the helmstation is an L-shaped lounge with storage below, while opposite is another small lounge, wet bar and 12V refrigerator. The hardtop and clears should provide all the necessary protection - not that we needed them on the test day. The stainless supports for the hardtop were exceptionally sturdy.
MORE TO COME
We knew it from day one, but, stating the obvious, Riviera looks to have a winner on its hands in the new 40.
And it's not just the sporty new look that will get it across the line. Even from our short test it's clear there are some real operational improvements over previous models, and the fact is the new 40 should also appeal to an even broader spectrum of the market.
Think of this review as an impression on the new 40 because there's no doubt we're aiming to get a longer, 'more involved' look at the new boat before long.
There's no doubt that the layout of the new boat, its finish and the amenity afforded by the whole package is a step above what even Riviera has served up in the past.
High praise indeed, but the fact of the matter is this truly is a world-class vessel. It's also a pointer to the next stage of development of Australia's best known boating brand... And the only way is up!
(Facts & Figures)
RIVIERA 40 PLATINUM FLYBRIDGE CONVERTIBLE
PRICE AS TESTED
$579,821 (inc GST)
Raytheon 620 plotter/GPS, L750 fishfinder, ST6000 autopilot, TV/video, 16,000 BTU airconditioning, GRP hardtop, teak cockpit, icemaker, 12V refrigerator, washer/dryer, outriggers, rodholders, cockpit bolsters, rear awning, flybridge carpet and clears, fold-out bed saloon, NV Design packages.
$498,341 (inc GST)
Type: Moderate-vee monohull
Length (overall): 14.11m
Weight: approx 10,750kg (dry)
Fuel Capacity: 1611lt
Water Capacity: 541lt
Make/model: Twin Cummins C-450
Type: Diesel shaftdrive
Rated hp: 430hp
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Twin Disc MG506-1A 1.54;1
Props: 23 x 24C
The Riviera Group, Coomera (Qld), (07) 5502 5555.
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