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The Trade-a-Boat crew paid a visit to the Riviera factory and took a look at the flagship Riviera 60. DAVID LOCKWOOD reports...

Riviera Flagship 60

AUGUST, 2005 - Let's do the arithmetic. Take 30,500kg of 18.6m fibreglass flybridge boat, add 1000kg of water when the tanks are full and about 4560kg if we leave the dock with a full 5700lt of diesel. Now add several hundred kilos for the options and gear you will invariably throw aboard this imposing long-range boat, things like a desalinator and the heavy-duty Opramare davit I found swinging a $50,000 RIB on the bow.

Cruise-ready, Riviera's flagship 60 might tip the scales to more than 40,000kg. Little wonder then that Americans, for whom getting places fast is everything, aren't averse to fitting twin Caterpillar C30 1500hp V12 engines to theirs (it will be interesting to see how the latest US-bound 60 with MTU V10 1570hp motors compares).

With 3000hp to play with you can cruise at 30kt at a mere 1900rpm on the motors and, should you wish, you can hit a 35kt top speed even when fully cocked. Says Bob Jones, who has delivered six of the boats to various ports including twice to Adelaide from Queensland: "I've had two of these boats to 40kt before and I've never been in a situation where I haven't felt safe."

Of course, there's no 40-tonne convertible anywhere that can be driven at breakneck speeds down towering ocean swells with complete abandon, yet this Frank Mulder-designed hull is among the very best in the Riviera fleet. Despite its immense load-carrying capacity and resulting huge range -?Gold Coast to Sydney without a fuel stop - the boat carries its weight amidships where it has least bearing on trim.

The big Riviera isn't bum-heavy when setting out with full tanks, as are so many flybridge boats. In fact, it travels wickedly flat thanks also to Mulder's signature prop tunnels that reduce shaft angles for optimum efficiency. As such, trim tabs aren't needed and the boat is always in attack mode.

But the slick blue-hulled Riviera 60 we drove in southern Queensland, which was destined for Vanuatu, made a lot of sense with relatively conservative Caterpillar C18 1000hp motors. At cruising speeds of 21kt, fast enough to reel in the sea miles in the face of a strong-wind warning, the motors consumed a respectable 245lt/h in total.



Beginning life as Riviera's 58, the flagship of the flybridge fleet will be toppled by a 70-footer in years to come. We observed the first 70 in the mould, but for now the 60 is the boat taking on the likes of Bertram, Ocean, Cabo, Hatteras and Viking in America and now on local waters, too.

Aside from its appellation, the changes over the 58 include layout refinements in the saloon and, compared with the early 58s, the fridge/freezers are all counter height instead of being floor-to-ceiling numbers that sit incongruously between the galley and entertaining area. The boat also had an attention-seeking LCD television rising on a ram from the saloon cabinetry and more efficient air-conditioning and venting.

More significantly, the fuel capacity was changed from three tanks including an aft tank to two tanks athwartships where the weight impacts less on trim. Water was upped from 800lt to 1000lt. And they lost a bunk in the fourth cabin so you have better access to the boat's washer and dryer. In keeping with world markets, mod-cons include central vacuuming system, tropical air-con to all cabins, a dishwasher and garbage compactor, for example.

But new features on the Riviera 60 are underwater exhausts. Now a feature of most Rivieras, the underwater exhausts kill vibration and quell cruising noise, keep the transom doubly clean of diesel soot, and boost storage space. From inside the saloon or enclosed bridge this was a quiet boat and I doubt anyone aboard has a clear recollection of the engines running.

Accommodation ranges through four cabins, with a VIP guests' island berth and ensuite in the bow, a wonderfully generous owner's cabin amidships with a transverse island berth and big ensuite, and a second guest cabin with single bunks. The crew cabin has a single berth, and there's a dayhead, but skippers will prefer to sleep on the double in the bridge. There's also the option of a sofa bed in the saloon.

The level of finish, the American cherry joinery and moulded surfaces, has been elevated to new heights, though there are a few details that weren't to my taste. The faux glass splashback in the galley was glitzy in a Gold Coast kind of way and the Roman blind over the porthole in the guest's cabin seemed like overkill. But these details that could be easily rectified with the Décor Manager.



Along with the blue hull, desalinator, tender and crane, and the owner-fitted trick electric blinds in the saloon, there were additional optional underfloor cockpit freezers as an adjunct to the freezer trays in the galley and the eutectic bait and fish freezer under the ladder leading up to the bridge. Along with water, fuel and power, fridge and freezer space is a key concern for extended cruising in the tropics.

A gas strut keeps the engine-room door open, which is better than the old dicky plastic chock. Inside, I noted a surfeit of space around all the sides of the big-bore straight-six Cats, direct access to the fuel filters and sea strainers for the motors, air-con and genset, a gurney for easy hull cleaning. It was a simple layout encouraging owner-drivers to perform pre-departure checks. With the optional Clarion closed-circuit camera in the bridge you can monitor the motors visually from the bridge as well as audibly and automatically though their electronics.

The ladder to the bridge is offset so you climb aloft athwartships, but once up top there's little cause to come back down. When parking you can move to the optional second outdoor helm on the bridge overhang. It was a little tight sitting here behind the tapering rear clear curtain but that's the way the owner wanted it, I'm told. You might prefer shifts without a wheel or seat, cockpit controls and/or remote docking devices.

From the enclosed flybridge you get a very different perspective. The electric helm seats let you adjust your position for an unfettered view of the ocean road and, well, there's no wind in the hair. Hey, you can go boating in the air-conditioned cocoon without even sniffing a salt crystal. Amenities at hand include a wet-bar, 240V outlets for a toaster or kettle, and an intercom so you can dial-up lunch if it's not already packed in the bar fridge. Bow and an optional sternthruster let you decamp with the twist of a toggle.

The flat-running attitude of this boat and the torque of the 18lt C18 motors is such that you slip almost unknowingly to planing speeds. The latest 2:1 Twin Disc electronic Quickshifts have low-speed and set cruise control functions. The cruise speeds of 21kt at an easy 1865rpm saw a fuel burn of 245lt/h in total. Fast cruise was 23.3kt at 2020rpm for 280lt/h.

Top speed in the most favourable direction with wind and tide astern touched on 30kt at 2300rpm, but you are burning 400lt/h at such speeds. At 21kt, your range is about 450nm leaving 10 per cent of fuel in reserve. At eight knots, well, you can take the boat across the Pacific providing you have the patience and can exercise restraint.

I ventured into the Pacific, albeit a mere dip of the toes at the entrance to the Gold Coast Seaway. The ocean looked lousy and I had no cause to set the boat on a course anywhere but back to the calms of the Broadwater. Yet I sensed the hull's flat-running attitude and heavy hull is a big hitter. It might be a tad wet, but in the enclosed bridge who cares?

With all the comforts, big tankage and that other commodity of time this is a boat to take places.

You could go slow, troll some hooks and gad about the tropical islands for weeks at a stretch, then throttle up when time wasn't on your side. A fast 40-tonner, indeed.



(Facts & Figures)



About $2.45 million w/ Caterpillar electronic C18 diesel motors and options



Bow and sternthrusters, desalinator, upgraded air-con, gurney, Opramare davit and RIB tender, Raymarine C120 electronics and closed-circuit cameras, and more



About $2.2 million



Material: GRP Fibreglass with cored decks, superstructure and hull sides
Type: Hard chine planing hull with tunnels and underwater exhausts
Length Overall: 19.63m
Hull length: 18.60m
Beam: 5.40m
Draft: 1.58m (max)
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: Around 30,500kg (dry w/standard engine) 



Berths: 8+2
Fuel Capacity: 5700lt
Water Capacity: 1000lt



Make/Model: Caterpillar C18s
Type: Six-cylinder diesel electronic engine w/ twin turbocharging and aftercooling
Rated hp: 1000hp @ 2300rpm
Displacement: 18.1lt
Weight: about 1718kg
Gearboxes (Make/ratio): Twin Disc 2:1
Props: Nibral five-blade bronze



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

Source: Trade-a-Boat, Aug 2005

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