BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 41 FLYBRIDGE CONVERTIBLE (PLATINUM)

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD

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The Riviera 40 was the boatbuilder's former top seller but the new Riviera 41 is one of the most sophisticated of its type and appears set to reclaim top billing, writes DAVID LOCKWOOD.

BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 41 FLYBRIDGE CONVERTIBLE (PLATINUM)
Riviera 41 Flybridge Convertible (Platinum)

APRIL, 2007 - Everyone liked the Riviera 40, a flybridge cruiser that had enough waterline length to be comfortable at sea with ample accommodation and amenities to disappear for a week, and was a user-friendly size to drive and maintain. Add the optional bowthruster and electronic shifts and, before long, just about anyone who had one was parking the boat like a pro.

The new 41 has big shoes to fill. It is the replacement for that best-selling Riviera of which 288 were sold over its six-year life with the last boat leaving on February 16 bound for a Washington-based dealer. Released in 2000, the 40 also won fans for its curvaceous Millennium styling. You can see the parentage in 41, although many of its mouldings have been squared-up in accord with current trends.

In the job of assessing 41, Number One was for me made doubly interesting since this writer had his family's current model Riviera 42 on hand as a camera boat. After driving the new 41 we voyaged along that same sea to Pittwater in our boat, an hour-long trip with my crewmate and our new baby girl of eight weeks. I soon discovered the 41 is more of a replacement for the 40 as the 42 is a considerably bigger boat again. Thank heavens for that, my cheque-writing fingers were getting jittery.

Yet I got to compare the old with the new and, okay I admit it, I was testing the new 41 with a view to it being an upgrade for our boat. The downside was that, after many sea miles, this writer knows too much about Rivieras! So keeping this test within the magazine's parameters and word count would be a discipline. I could almost write a book on them.

As to be expected the Riviera 41 is more contemporary and cutting-edge than the 40 or, for that matter, the current 42. The new model has a naval architect-designed hull courtesy of Frank Mulder, prop tunnels that reduce the shaft angles from 14 degrees to 11 degrees thereby improving the transfer of power, and underwater exhausts. Standard power comes from twin fully electronic 460hp C7 Caterpillar diesel engines that live in an engine room with fully moulded liner as per the leading American convertibles that it competes with here and even more so overseas.

There are also the latest electronic gizmos like a neat ($12,375 option) telescopic crane that's way better than the two-stage davits, a fresh interior with improved finish and seriously big dinette, a cockpit that's truly mindful of the serious game fisher and many other refinements from hardtop to keel that, to me at least, were patently obvious and largely welcome.

 



IMPROVED ENGINEERING


Riviera has invested considerably in the foundations of its new 41 improving the engineering foremost. This begins with the underwater hull built from handlaid GRP with a balsa-cored foredeck and cabin structure as per all Rivs. The hull shape is a modified 40 with bigger chines, prop tunnels, a three-quarter keel in the Riviera style, changed strakes and a squared off transom all to provide more lift.

But those who worked on the boat in New Production Development say they didn't want to lose the attributes of the original 40 which was always considered one of the boatbuilder's better-performing hulls. The main aim was to get the trim angle down, get the boat running a bit flatter, and to refine the craft without being radical.

Compared with the 40 the 41 is 8cm shorter in length overall courtesy of a new bowsprit with integral anchor but has a 10cm longer moulded hull length which is what matters most. The 41 is also 3cm wider, 150kg heavier due to more gear and a second head, 8cm shallower on the draft thanks to the prop pockets and carries 210lt more fuel (or more again if you choose the optional forward tank). There is the same 460lt of water with room to fit a desalinator.

The 41 is packaged with the same engines that were eventually standardised on the 40, but there are options up to and including 540hp QSC and 600hp QSC Cummins engines that, with the additional forward fuel tank, will doubtless appeal to Americans. On the water the boat feels lively, sporty and less like a big old battlewagon thanks to its improved hull shape, but more on that later.

The engine room with moulded liner makes the 41 more refined from an engineering viewpoint although the exhaust elbow on the portside Caterpillar engine is kind of annoying (not Riviera's fault) the way it cuts across the engine room. Instead of the silly fold-back sink is a lift-up hatch and swing away door with fire extinguisher and gas strut that leads from the cockpit to the engine room - an offset ladder helps get around that exhaust elbow.

A new, neater and more easily accessible main breaker panel is at the entrance with all the emergency engine-start switches and override switches back aft where you can get to them in a hot engine room. The wiring is simpler and neater, and the engines easier to service. The coolant bottles, Racor fuel filters, including that for the 9.5kW Onan generator (mounted forward), sea strainers and freshwater tap are all back aft.

The dipsticks are on the centreline of the paired Cat engines, the 150lt holding tank is forward to port as per usual with the single 16,000 BTU Cruisair air-con unit opposite. Water is still carried outboard of the engines in polypropylene wing tanks as are the maintenance-free (yahoo!) batteries.

With the offset ladder there's now unfettered access to the bilge which mightn't be so wet now that the Riviera is using slick new integral engine vents moulded in the hull sides. But for the life of me I couldn't find a sight gauge for the GRP fuel tank mounted under the cockpit floor. An oversight I trust.

Partly the reason for more space in the engine room is the creation of an extraordinarily large utility room under the galley floor where a wide hatch and short ladder lead down to a huge amount of storage space. You will also find the hot-water service here, all the boat's main plumbing manifolds, the battery charger, inverter (fitted to this boat for generator-free AC for the LCD television), and, should you choose, an optional washer-dryer.

The AC/DC panel on the 41 is more refined with a residual current device, a digital volt gauge, and a lighting and plumbing plan on a ship's outline that, at a glance, alerts you to what's running. Way better than the old warning lights above the saloon windscreen (Riv' owners will know what I mean). There is also a new voltage-protection system and, well, better systems all round.

 



OUTDOOR DESIGNS


While essentially the same size as the 40 the cockpit is more mindful of gamefishing boats but better protected by the extended flybridge overhang which, with the seating farther aft, not only ensures a good view of the cockpit but allows for a bigger dinette in the bridge. However the first thing I noticed when I set foot aboard was the new dot-pattern non-skid that will be easier to clean than the old moulded pattern that I scrub tirelessly on a regular basis.

The boarding platform is smarter too with an integral grabrail so you can hang off the back (also handy for tying off toys) and the swim ladder has a hatch catch allowing you to reverse without it flipping up. The Plastimo handheld hot/cold deck shower near the marlin door (which seals better than before) is a neat fitting.

Depending on your boating bent the mid-transom live-bait tank with double hatches is either a fantastic place to keep slimy mackerel or a useful party icebox or bin for the empties. You should also note that the hatches are injection moulded on this boat thereby saving weight as is the new flybridge hardtop that aims to be half the weight of the old model. Less weight up top is great on any boat (how about an injection-moulded lid for the M400 and M360?).

The above-deck peanut-shaped cleats are bigger but the fairleads in the aft corners are the same-sized narrow things that restrict rope capacity. There are pop-up cleats for swinging fenders and a tough stainless-steel rubrail and supportive bowrail. The moulded steps in the cockpit leading to the sidedecks are less obtrusive and the walkarounds have been widened to improve access to the bow.

The Australian made 200kg-lift telescopic ADC crane on this boat is a beauty. It has the scope to put a 3.4m Zodiac RIB with 15hp outboard, or maybe more, on the foredeck. The 41 has three square deck hatches with integral insect and shade screens, a saltwater anchor wash, and big separate rope and chain lockers in the bow.

Storage space is generous in the cockpit with side lockers, twin long underfloor fish boxes with macerator pumps and a tightish lazarette for access to the steering gear but not much else. There is provision for mounting a game chair if that is your thing, plus new toe-under cutouts so you can lean outboard while fighting fish and get support on your thighs rather than stubbing your big toe.

Back under the flybridge overhang is the usual insulated eutectic cool box - this has been extended outboard so you get more internal volume. The sink is on the opposite side, to starboard behind the outward opening saloon door and designed to maximise saloon space. And there is a remote for the Clarion sound system plus the usual raw and fresh water taps and dockside connections.

 



BIGGER FLYBRIDGE


The new ladder and aperture improve access to the flybridge with more floor and living space than before. The forward portside lounge can seat two but the L-shaped lounge opposite is a beauty that can accommodate four adults. Add a small fold-up table for cocktail hour -?I'm told Riviera might offer such a thing soon - and go for the optional infill that lets you create a double bed in the bridge. On our boat that bed is a coveted place on passages.

I noticed improved storage lids over the spaces under the lounges, and a fridge and sink with hot/cold water of course. The new moulded hardtop is a lovely thing and without a radio box your vision is unobstructed even if you're a giant. There are good stainless-steel grabs and tinted Strataglass clears on tracks with less zips to spring leaks. Improvements indeed.

The new angular dash has been designed to mount Palm Beach-style split throttle/gear levers either side of the solid Edson wheel as is often preferred on serious fishing boats. The module also makes better use of space with plenty of room for flush mounting two 15in electronic screens (one Raymarine C120 and ST6002 autopilot are fitted to this boat). There are twin Caterpillar electronic engine panels and analogue gauges, controls for bowthruster, windlass, spotlight, and a big spread of switches including - you beauty! - one that let's you dump the holding tank without needing to go down below to the AC/DC panel.

The electronic Caterpillar throttles are the usual side-by-side models with synchro, slow-idle mode and adjustable troll mode. There are stainless-steel drinkholders too, a second bilge and lighting plan, trick blue LED courtesy lights, and comfortable twin helm seats with armrests and good back support without being so tall as to impede vision when standing and facing aft.

The demonstration Riviera 41 has a three-quarter awning constructed from a neat new rubber material called Stamoid that is apparently a lot easier to clean than the previous Sunbrella fabric. But on the otherhand my boat has a half-awning that allows me to see the transom when reversing and an extended Italian awning that can be attached for long sunny days at anchor. I consider this a much better solution than a three-quarter awning.

 



INDOOR LIVING


Things have changed dramatically indoors with contemporary saloon lounges that are lower and squarer than the old curved ones with ruched or pleated infills. A much bigger, raised and dedicated dinette to starboard, lovely high-gloss natural cherrywood joinery thanks to the new varnishing plant, and a more modern, light and spacious look from cream liners as opposed to our 42 with its traditional ship-like teak finish which is, perhaps, more timeless and nautical.

The small hard-wearing Amtico floor panel as you step inside the saloon is a good thing to cut down on wear. The saloon door opens outwards so it doesn't get in the way of the wetbar with combo fridge/icemaker, usefully big servery, bottle locker and drawers, plus the AC/DC panel with generator control.

The L-shaped lounge opposite, finished in cream or bone-coloured leather, can seat four or be used by two as a day lounge or bed. Better still is the optional trundle bed that boosts your sleeping capacity by two. And when it's raining or mid-winter that trundle bed makes a great place from which to watch videos.

Meanwhile in the ceiling liner is a pushbutton rod locker that lets you carry all your fishing gear aboard without hearing "get those rods off the bed!" - another nice detail. Unlike earlier Rivieras there isn't any cabinetry before the windscreen. The increased vision allows you drive from the saloon on passages with an autopilot remote.

The windows are deeper letting in more light and the huge aft window is actually the same size as that on a 56. There are new blinds and an LCD television stand before the dinette to port. Located on a raised section of Amtico flooring that won't stain is the dinette. It is huge and will comfortably seat four for a real sit-down dinner with great views. The table is on a gas pedestal so even big blokes will fit under it and there is the option of an infill to create a daybed or second kiddie's bed.

The galley opposite is still on a mezzanine level but only one step instead of two from the saloon thereby allowing better discourse between chef and crew. It also features a massive amount of Corian food-preparation space. Amenities range from a recessed two-burner Ceran hob that allows you to cook in pots without worrying about spills, to a convection microwave oven and deep sink with separate filtered drinking-water tap, to a much appreciated quieter extractor fan and a NovaCool bench-height fridge with separate vertical freezer.

A nice detail is the way in which Corian lids cover the sink, garbage bin chute and cooktop making for a neat presentation when not being used. The cover over the cooktop doubles as a splashback too. There were grab rails either side of the galley but I'm not so sure on the style of the fixed patterned-glass splashback, something more fashionable would be better. But a big galley by any measure, let alone on a 41-footer.

Although there are no spice or sauce drawers there is ample storage for provisions and appliances, especially when you take into account the huge hold below the galley floor. Known as the "black hole" on our boat it's great for storing tubs of long-term provisions.

 

 

SLEEPING ROOM


It's a treat getting two cabins and two heads on a 41-footer, the layout is ideal for living aboard with family and/or friends. I'm not sure how many you want to sleep on your Riviera 41 but with a bed in the bridge, trundle bed in the saloon and infill for the dinette -?all optional - and the standard accommodation layout as tested you could sleep 11.

Great to see a fixed or optional opening portlight (for which I would want a reed switch and light on the dash letting me know the port's been left open) in the standard guests' cabin. At the time of writing the cabin had two single beds and a transverse pullout overhead berth. At least one Sydney dealer said he would prefer to see just two single berths and no overhead bed plus an infill to make a double thereby creating more headroom around the beds.

I'm with him on that score. I hit my head on the transverse berth but that was partly due to the beds being displayed to be slept on with your head where your feet should be. Lying on them the right way - head forward - was much better. Storage included a hanging space, bedside table and underbunk space.

The communal head/guests' en suite has a new and improved floor with gutters to maximise drainage, a classy semi-recessed porcelain basin, stylish bathroom fittings and Vacuflush toilet. The shower is a handheld number with a curtain - there aren't two separate stalls like the Riviera 42 - but I think this is just fine given the attractiveness of showering with the Plastimo handheld on deck. Extractor fans and opening hatches assist with ventilation too. There is a lot more floor space in the owner's en suite to port which features a lovely separate shower compartment.

The stateroom in the bow has the trademark Riviera Island double bed with innerspring mattress that, having just returned from sleeping for seven nights aboard, is better than my bed at home. Even the young Summer thought as much when we brought her in each morning. Only the new bed has squared off corners making it a tad smaller but easier to get aboard. Storage in the stateroom is provided by side lockers, a hanging locker and wardrobe, plus drawers and a big space below the lift-up bed.

As ever there were classy bedding packages using neutral and natural hues, nice man-made suede liners and sophisticated fabrics. The blue LED lights are special at night and, from what I could tell, noise levels inside appear to be reduced when running and, I'm guessing, with the generator going too. Not that these are noisy boats.

 



OFFSHORE TEST


The C7 Caterpillar engines have an eagerness, responsiveness and a real throatiness that is music to the ears. And, as I touched on, the new Riviera 41 - given it had just a quarter of a tank of fuel, no tender and few personal effects, fishing tackle and so on -?is a lively, nimble and agile boat that turns more like a sportsboat than a flybridge as we know them (I bet we'll see a sportsyacht version soon).

The key rev ranges are WOT or full noise of 2800rpm, maximum continuous speed less-200rpm of 2600rpm, cruise less-400rpm of around 2400rpm and low-speed cruise in case of bad weather of 2200rpm. Top speed was 29.5 to 30kts depending on tide and wind. So consider this a 30-knot boat or, if you're like me, a 28-knotter by the time you put a shed full of gear aboard.

Cruising figures at 2200rpm are 19.5 to 20kts for 100ltr/hr on both motors that give a safe range of 360 nautical miles (Sydney to Gold Coast at a pinch) with 10 per cent of the fuel supply in reserve. Optimum cruise is around 2450rpm and 23.5 kts for 120lt/hr and a range of about 350-plus nautical miles. At 2600rpm the Riviera 41 was doing 26kts with the Cats consuming 135lt for a 340 nautical-mile range. So fast or slow there's not that much in it. I'd go fast!

Offshore the boat did as intended. It ran flatter, and seemed really nice and smooth with no thumping in the abating conditions. The hull pushes a fair bit of water off its bow, perhaps running a degree too flat but more fuel will correct that issue. The spray also tended to stay outboard and not end up on the clears. By the end I came away impressed by the ride, a feeling only reinforced when I took our 42 - in my opinion the best-riding 40-odd footer from Riviera - back up the coast. Only the significantly longer waterline of the 42 is an advantage.

Looking back the 40 was Riviera's biggest-selling boat but that spot is now filled by the more-than-a-million-dollar Riviera 47. But with the advancements in engines, electronics and ergonomics this is one of the most sophisticated smaller 40s from the boatbuilder ever, and it could just regain the top spot. Lucky for me I don't own a 40 and the 42 is more than a metre longer. Now, about that imminent new 45… will it fit in our berth?

 

 



(Facts & Figures)
RIVIERA 41 FLYBRIDGE CONVERTIBLE (PLATINUM)

 



PRICE AS TESTED


$846,871 w/ twin C7 Caterpillar diesel motors and options

 


OPTIONS FITTED


Bowthruster, ADC 200kg-lift davit, Raymarine electronics pack, digital TV, LCD TV in saloon, opening porthole, rocket launcher, teak cockpit, dishwasher drawer, water purifier, fridge in bridge, tinted Strataglass clears, carpet and soft-upgrades, delivery to Sydney and detail, and more.

 



PRICED FROM


$749,487 w/ twin Caterpillar C7 460hp diesel engines

 



GENERAL


Material: GRP hull, cored decks and hardtop
Type: Moderate to deep-vee monohull with half prop tunnels, keel and underwater exhausts
Length overall: 14.03m
Hull length: 13.18m
Beam: 4.57m
Draft: 1.13m
Weight: 13,650kg dry w/std motors

 



CAPACITIES


Berths: 5 + 2 (+ 2 + 2)
Fuel: 2000lt
Water: 460lt
Holding tank: 150lt

 



ENGINE


Make/model: Twin Cat C7 ACERT
Type: Fully electronic straight-six four-stroke diesel with fuel injection, turbocharging and aftercooling
Rated HP: 460 at 2800rpm
Displacement: 7.24lt
Weight: 809kg each
Gearboxes: Twin Disc 1.75:1
Props: Four-blade bronze

 



SUPPLIED BY


R-Marine Sydney, Rushcutters Bay, (02) 9327 000, or visit www.riviera.com.au

Source: Trade-a-Boat, Apr 2007

Find Riviera Flybridge boats for sale.

 


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