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Riviera’s newest concept in luxury craft aims for universal appeal. DAVID LOCKWOOD finds that the Riv 3600SY offers a warm welcome to the world of sports yachting.

Riviera 3600 Sports Yacht

JULY, 2005 - Mind-numbing though it may be, the Coomera River in Southern Queensland is not the place for complacency. The channel markers shift from one bank to the next, the murky water is less than two metres deep in parts, and the blazing sun is frequently beaming straight in your eyes. Along the way you get to ogle endless stands of grey-green mangroves, rows upon rows of waterfront homes, private jetties, marinas and resorts, while dodging skicraft, jetskis, houseboats and cruisers. And being a six-knot speed-restricted zone means that you have to contend with all this while pottering along for an hour before opening the throttles.

So you may well appreciate that I was in no hurry to grab the electronic EDC throttles alongside the new automotive-looking dash on the latest concept in pleasure boats from resident boatbuilder, Riviera. No, I left that to the long-suffering staffer who accompanied my journey on the new Riviera 3600 Sport Yacht from the factory in the bayous all the way to the so-called Broadwater.

En route, I went for the royal treatment and wallowed in the luxury on a vertiable chauffeur-driven service.

I sunk into the leather lounge in the saloon, peered through the picture windows at the passing parade, before reaching across to the fridge for my lunch. All the while the Queensland sun beat no further than the hardtop above my head, as I regaled the skipper at the internal helm without having to yell.

His mate, sitting nearby, shut the saloon door - engine noise and fumes were virtually non-existent - and called on the air-conditioning for total climate control.

But for the air-conditioning piping through the vents, Riviera's new 3600 Sport Yacht offers a warm welcome to the new world of sport yachting. Whether driving, or being driven as it were, this hardtop cruiser has been designed around human factors, creature comforts, and ease of operation.



Following on the from the highly popular Riviera 3000 and 4000 Offshore boats - and infinitely better by way of functionality - is this first new generation global boat: the 3600 Sport Yacht. It's a result of input from existing owners, dealers and inhouse designers, plus the international marketplace where boats with lids and shafts are all the rage.

While the boat is a Sport Yacht in the same sense as the American Tiara that you will find elsewhere in this edition, it's also competing with European craft such as the French Jeanneau and Beneteau powerboats. Flaunting sunroofs and submersible boating platforms, bigger Rivera Sport Yachts I saw in pre-production stages might also trade blows with the UK-made Princess and Sunseekers, and US SeaRays.

While there will be modifications to the3600 Sport Yacht released in September - a tweak to the mouldings here and there, a reduction in the bulk of the stainless-steel frame on the aft window, maybe a modification to the tunnel and different props for better top speed - Trade-A-Boat couldn't wait to jump aboard this prototype to see where Riviera is heading with its latest line of pleasure boats.



Neil McCabe, Senior Industrial Designer for Riviera, explained some of the philosophy behind the new Sport Yacht. He says he took into account the young family when designing the decks with moulded steps in the cockpit, bulwarks for security, sturdy grabrails, and bowrails with heavy-duty stanchions and intermediate wires.

Owner input lead to things like the big peanut-shaped above-deck cleats where mooring lines are easy to access, the cover over the foredeck sunpad, and the hard-wearing, low-maintenance Amtico mock-wood saloon flooring. There was a conscious effort to create a turnkey, low-hassle, simplified boating experience.

But like other new-gen Rivieras, the 3600SY, which was based on the Riviera 33 flybridge hull, has tunnels for reduced shaft angles and a one-to-two knot increase in speed. It also features the latest underwater exhausts that give about an extra knot in speed, smoother running, and reduced operating noise.

Construction is all solid GRP from the keel to the gunwale. Increasingly, on the new big boats being developed the deck features balsa coring, but McCabe points out that Riviera isn't hung-up about weight saving but rather focuses on building strong, heavy, sea boats. Resin-infusion technology will be used in the near future to produce even better finishes.

But the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the folding rear window. Part of a heavy-duty stainless-steel bulkhead frame fashioned by a big-boat yard in Taiwan known for its stainless work, the folding window creates a seamless indoor/outdoor area where guests on the internal leather lounge can converse with those on the cockpit lounge -?heck, you can even see the LCD television on the dash from the cockpit seating.



I could go on about the deck details, the heavy-duty wiper motors, the new diamond-pattern (easy clean) non-skid, the Italian Besenzoni hydraulic pedestal base under the cockpit . But, no. Time for a whirlwind tour while we potter down the long river.

The difference in stability between this 3600 Sport Yacht and, say, the company's M400 Sportscruiser, is obvious the very instant you set foot aboard. This boat has a low centre of gravity that makes for an exceptionally stable entertaining platform.

The boarding platform, which is moulded with the deck, has additional static buoyancy by way of a moulded support area. It doesn't contribute to the running surface, however. Also, when we traced the side decks, the boat remained very stiff and upright.

The integral boarding platform had an optional but excellent stainless transom rail that not only acts as a leaning post, but somewhere to tie-off the tender when it's carried on Weaver Snap Davits on the transom and, importantly, it doubles as a mounting spot for the aftermarket stainless-steel 240V barbie.

That barbie and the 240V outlet were found in an aft-facing storage hold, along with a boathook, Shorepower lead, lifejackets and so on. Stainless-steel hydraulic gas struts support all of the hatches on the boat.

Double fender baskets were to port, with the transom gate to starboard. The stainless gate was to get a new locking mechanism. When coming off the plane, the transom wake washes over the boarding platform, but I didn't note more than a splash in the cockpit.

The 9mm teak lining the cockpit and boarding platform is rebated. Expectedly, the boat had a hot/cold handheld transom shower, and a raw-water tap in one of the two small side pockets.

The rear lounge seats three and, with loose chairs and folding leaves, you can create an outdoor lunch setting for six. The reinforced teak table had an excellent Italian hydraulic pedestal base. Collapse the table, add the supplied cushion infills, and you have a daybed in addition to the sunpad supplied on the bow.

The aft lounge lifts on gas struts to grant access to the lazarette with bilge and steering gear. Because of this boat's integral underwater exhausts chambers and the removal of the usual exhaust pipes, there's a mile of potential storage space either side of the 1000lt central fibreglass fuel tank.

Outdoor amenities include a cockpit fridge to port and a starboard storage compartment. The main 12V management panel with circuit breakers is in the starboard storage compartment. The wiring on this boat has been streamlined, with shorter runs than some other Rivieras, while the AC panel is inside beside the water gauge and stereo.

Engine-room access is via a cockpit hatch and not entirely accommodating of the creaky ex-yachtie for whom this boat should hold appeal. But once inside I found room to access all sides of the Volvo 310hp D6 motors, check oil levels, inspect the Racor fuel filters and the fuel sight-gauge on the aft bulkhead, and make a visual inspection of the sea-strainers.

Forward of the engines I noted a modest 80lt holding tank - the boat carries a handy 390lt of water for weekending away - the hot-water service with heat exchanger, and a 4kW Onan generator to port. There are PSS dripless shaft seals and greatly-reduced shaft angles thanks to those hull tunnels. Should you need to remove a motor you can do so through the lift-out saloon floor and demountable internal furniture.



The pivotal feature of this boat is the fold-up saloon window. You simply unclip a catch and, with assistance from gas struts, hinge the window to the underside of the hardtop - a clip holds it securely in place. Add air-conditioning inside, side-opening saloon windows and oversized overhead Lewmar hatches for instant indoor/outdoor boating.

With the aft window up and the door open to the saloon, you boost entertaining space from the boarding platform right through to the island berth in the bow. Headroom measures 2m and there's a big stainless-steel ceiling rail to assist with your passage forward.

Indoor seating comes by way of a big portside leather lounge with storage under its base and big views out the surrounding tinted and clear curved-glass forward windscreen. The lounge sits before a 55cm LCD television that rises on a gas-strut from beneath portside dash. Neat!

Remove the lounge backrests and you have even more space on the daybed. However, there are no privacy curtains around the windows and seemingly no scope for them, either.

The starboard galley on the same level as the lounge lets you assemble meals while entertaining. There is no outdoor sink but it's not needed, such is the convenience of the galley-up layout, featuring cherrywood cabinetry, 12/240V fridge with freezer tray - split fridge and icemaker optional - microwave oven, recessed single-burner electric stove and sink with Corian-like cutting board.

Ahead of the galley is the boat's one and only helm, which has a flat stool without backrest. Accordingly, one tends to drive the boat while sitting sidesaddle and leaning against the glass window. Standing room is a tad tight. The grog and glass lockers are below the seat along with the battery charger.

Thermal-formed plastic moulding technology use by carmakers has helped shape the boat's superb dash. Topped with soft-touch vinyl, the low-glare matt grey surfaces are punctuated by a flush-mounted Raymarine C80 combo GPS/sounder, controls for the optional bowthruster, the keyless EDC Volvo ignition pad, electronic engine data display, VHF radio and more.

The rearmost brow has a stainless-steel facia harbouring a full spread of Volvo analogue gauges for the electronic D6 motors. The electronic EDC gearshifts are always nice to use. The boat's switch panel is dotted with icons and, among the features, are heavy-duty wipers and the ability to dump the holding tank without leaving the helm.



Incredibly, considering it's based on the Riviera 33, the 3600 Sport Yacht has two spacious cabins. The island bed in the forward master cabin has a 1.92m long innerspring mattress, storage below and in four hatches to the sides, plus a full-length cedar-lined hanging locker. There was a second optional 37cm LCD television and DVD to keep the kiddies quiet before putting them to bed.

The second cabin has adult-length twin bunks, a generous hanging locker with access panels inside to the shower sump pump, which invariably need attending to during a boat's life. I also found an opening porthole in the deck, where it's less likely to leak than if positioned in the hull sides.

The head to port has a full-length separate shower stall as big as that in a Riviera 40. The fittings are excellent, including a Vacuflush loo, sink, full-length mirror, extractor fan and vanity.



With a tank of fuel and three adults, plus some water, the boat produced a top speed of 27.7kt, whereas the Riviera 33 with flybridge and the same motors that I tested last year did 29.5kt. There's still work left to do in the propeller and maybe tunnel department and I would expect a 30kt boat when they nail these details.

At 3200rpm, the boat cruised at 23kt using close to 100lt/h on both motors. At this speed you should get a cruising range of about 230nm. Expect a fast continuous cruise of about 24kt at 3350rpm.

The trim tabs weren't responding as they should and more in-trim would have been helpful to level the ride. However, even with a lot of fuel aboard, the vision was good from the lower helm. Still, I would add a radar for bad-weather passage making.

I noted a fine mist of salt spray on the rear cabin glass, but since you can shut the door and window when running that's not an issue. The underwater exhausts and Volvo D6 motors make for a quiet and smooth operator.

Bring the creature comforts into the equation and, dare I say it, you have a boat that is almost all things to all people. This boat's space, accommodation, headroom and amenities are such that a family of four has the means to escape for weekends at a time.

In short, the 3600 Sport Yacht has universally appealing design traits that centre on human factors, ergonomics, and amenities. Hull No. 1 released at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show captured a lot of imaginations and there's more clever thinking to come.



(Facts & Figures)



About $449,000 w/ Volvo diesel D6 electronic diesel motors and options



Bowthruster, second LCD television, electronics, stainless-steel transom rail






Material: GRP fibreglass
Type: Hard chine planing hull with tunnels and underwater exhuasts
Length Overall: 11.73m
Hull length: 10.13m
Beam: 3.83m
Draft: 1.00m (max)
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: Around 9000kg (dry w/ standard engine)



Berths: 4+1
Fuel: 1000lt
Water: 390lt



Make/Model: Volvo D6 310hp
Type: Six-cylinder turbocharging diesel
Rated hp: 310hp @ 3500rpm
Displacement: 5.5lt
Weight: about 656kg
Props: Four-blade bronze 



The Riviera Group, 50 Waterway Drive, Coomera, Qld, 4209, (07) 5502 5555 or visit

Source: Trade-a-Boat, Jul 2005

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