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Volvo Penta's IPS 400s with pod drives turn Riviera's 3600 Sport Yacht into a fittingly fun and free-spirited weekender, writes DAVID LOCKWOOD.

Riviera 3600 Sport Yacht MKII

JUNE, 2009 - Riviera reckons it's the boat that introduced the Sport Yacht concept to Australia and the world. But when we first dipped our toes aboard Riviera's 3600 Sport Yacht in June 2005, we first had to endure a tedious one-hour cruise of the speed-restricted Coomera River. Finally on the Broadwater, we let loose with the twin 310hp Volvo Penta D6 engines. The 3600 Sport Yacht had propeller tunnels to reduce shaft angles and improve efficiency, resulting in a pretty handy turn of speed.

The 3600 Sport Yacht, touted as Riviera's first global boat, was the product of input from existing owners, dealers and in-house designers, plus the international marketplace at the time, where boats with lids and shafts were all the rage.

But that was five years ago and as the new world attests, a lot can change in the interim. The new 3600 Sport Yacht MkII - pictured in optional blue hull colour, which reduces the bulk of the boat - now boasts longer legs or rather, pod drives courtesy of Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS).

This story is as much about the difference pod drives can make than just the boat we drove. After all, Volvo Penta claims IPS-equipped boats have 15 per cent better acceleration, 30 per cent better cruising range, and up to 50 per cent perceived lower noise and vibration levels than craft equipped with mechanical diesel engines and traditional shaft installations.

So it was with a certain degree of enthusiasm that we thrust the fly-by-wire throttles to the dash on the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII. With IPS 400s, the boat has a new hull without prop tunnels. And whoosh! The twin 301hp electronic diesel engines generate performance that's finally more sport than yacht. And to think they are mere four-cylinder donks, too.



As a total package, the IPS 400s each weigh 780kg a side compared with 656kg for the former Volvo Penta D6 engines. But then you have to add shafts weighing 23kg each, twin rudders of 40kg each, twin props of 40kg each, a 10kg bowthruster, exhaust system tipping the scales to 5kg each, and the associated drag getting all that through the water.

We spoke with Volvo Penta Oceania about the changeover and at the end of the day, there was 150kg of weight saving. So while the IPS offer a better power-to-weight package, it's more the efficiency of the forward-facing propellers and drives that's  responsible for the acceleration. With a touch of trim tab, the holeshot is immediate - be sure to tell the crew to hang on - after which you raise the tabs for a smooth cruise and good views.

Of course, there are added benefits to IPS drives, not least being the fact that the engines are located outdoors, under the cockpit sole, accessible at the press of a button, where there would otherwise be a lazarette and/or fuel and water tanks. That means engine noise remains outdoors and not reverberating under your feet in the saloon. And that means the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII is a wonderfully quiet boat. Close the saloon doors and you are cruising as if in a family car. Though there was some blowback of spray when underway, the cockpit is also more agreeable thanks to underwater exhausts and the electronic common rail engines that ensure there's not a whiff of smoke.

The other big hook is the Joystick that comes standard on the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII. Prospective new-boat owners are  encouraged to jump aboard a boat like this due to the intuitive docking device. Take command, push the Joystick where you want to go, and the boat follows. Twist the knob on the Joystick and the boat pirouettes. Hit the Boost button and you can drive out of the marina at about four to six knots. Suffice to say, IPS is ideal on boats in share or managed fleets.



But wait, there's more. Relocating the engines aft and shifting the fuel and water amidships means there's more room for accommodation. Whereas the original 3600 Sport Yacht had an aft cabin with twin single beds, the new more accommodating IPS-powered boat has a full-beam aft cabin with a transverse double bed abutting a fixed window to starboard, and a single bed before a fixed window to port.

The stateroom is still forward, meanwhile, but with a decent island bed, hanging locker, escape hatch with insect and shade screen, and the option of a separate AV system. Headroom is a high point, as is the en suite/communal bathroom with separate shower stall, Vacuflush loo, but small ventilation hatch.

The 390 litres of water should see a family of four live comfortably for a long weekend and with due water preservation, a week. The 80-litre holding tank is on the small side, however, and the sharp leading edge of the grabrail leading down from the saloon needs addressing.

Joinery is ubiquitous high-gloss American cherrywood, there was sandstone leather upholstery on the saloon lounge, which is a generous L-shaped number to port. Add a loose table and you create a decent dinette for a family of four. Of course, the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII is air-conditioned, with a standard 18,000 BTU unit servicing the saloon, and the option of a second 16,000 BTU Cruisair for the accommodation.

The generator is a 4kW Onan, the onboard batteries are maintenance-free, and the supplied inverter allows silent-ship operation while watching television, a movie or kicking back in a crowded anchorage.

Playing on the indoor/outdoor theme, the Sport Yacht has plenty of glass, side opening windows and twin sliding sunroof panels for light and natural ventilation. The signature awning window lifts on gas struts to provide a seamless transition to the cockpit, while practical Amtico flooring makes for easy post-party clean-ups. You can let the kids waltz inside to grab a drink from the aft galley without worrying about their wet feet.

We noted a pop-up 55cm NEC flatscreen television to port, with integrated sound system and DVD player, opposite the lower helm station with flip-up bolster seat for two. The dash was graced with upgraded twin Raymarine C120s, stock-standard twin Volvo Penta EDC engine-monitoring panels, analogue engine gauges, Bennett trim tab gauges, and the electronic gear shifts and Joystick. Pantograph wipers ensure the views are clear when cruising in adverse weather.

Behind the helm to starboard is the galley module, with solid counters, Sharp convection microwave oven (45 minutes per kilo of fillet beef, plus 15 minutes resting time and your done), fridge and single-burner recessed electric hob. But, really, this is more your weekend prawn or barbecue boat, hence the optional 240V Southern Stainless barbie in the cockpit. In winter, think of it as a reheat-and-eat weekender and bring comfort meals from home. The air-con is, of course, reverse cycle for making things doubly toasty.



Despite the apparent Euro design, we see the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII as a thoroughly Australian boat. It's got a big cockpit with fridge and room for assembling a table and chairs and staging lunch. Add a Euro-style awning for shade. The permanently moulded cockpit lounge on the earlier models is now an option. Good move, as cockpit space counts for more. With some rodholders you could easily fish this boat in the morning before you collect the family for the weekend.

The deep swim platform adds to the waterfront real estate and lets the kiddies dive off the transom, where the hot-cold deck shower will come in handy after the last swim of the day. The U-shaped stainless steel transom rail is a useful mounting point for a cutting board with rodholders or the barbie. The boot has a 240V outlet, fender baskets and storage for watersports gear.

Walkaround decks lead to the bow and sunpad cushion where teenagers will find personal space. The anchoring gear includes a trusty Muir windlass, while the cleats are above-deck types that should assist crew during mooring duties. For a relatively modest Riviera, the 3600 Sport Yacht MkII boasts abundant outdoor/indoor space. 



We opened the hatches and took a considered look at the engineering. But there's not much scope for owner input with the Volvo Penta electronic diesel engines. Sensors let you know if you have to top-up the coolant and oil or there's a water restriction or heating issue. Make a visual inspection, look for leaks, close the hatch, turn the keys, warm the engines, and go.

Substantial fuel savings are another big benefit of the IPS 400s over the twin D6s with shafts, says Gavin Rooney from Volvo Penta Oceanis, whose figures show the IPS boat is one knot faster at wide open throttle, jumping to about 33 knots, yet at that  full-throttle setting the owner will enjoy a saving of 42 litres per hour. At $1.17 per litre in Queensland that equates to $2400 in the back pocket after 50 hours of high-speed boating or to put it another way, a saving of $50 per hour if you lean on the pegs. Fuel capacity has been cut back 200 litres to 800 litres compared with earlier 3600s.

While the acceleration was brisk and exciting, the boat was more sobering during tight turns. A more impressive part of its handling was the dignified straight-line cruise. At 3000rpm, we averaged about 25kts for 85lt/h, a saving of about 15lt/h over the previous D6 shaft model, according to my calculations. Low-speed cruise of 17 to 18kts was clocked at 2600rpm with a touch of trim tab, while our best speed during trials was 31kts.

Interestingly, in the same time frame that Riviera's 3600 Sport Yacht has been on the scene, Volvo Penta has delivered 10,000 IPS units since the product was first introduced to the market in 2005. Locally, Volvo Penta Oceania is selling some 60 per cent of all-new engines as IPS pod drives. Since the Sydney International Boat Show in 2007, Riviera had fitted 176 Volvo Penta IPS packages. Pods are on the march. Hopefully, Riviera is again one day, too.



(Facts & Figures)



$542,498 w/ Volvo Penta IPS 400s, and options




Hull colour, second air-con unit to accommodation, digital TV, custom barbecue, Raymarine electronics package, and more






Material: GRP fibreglass
Type: Hard chine planing hull without tunnels
Length overall: 11.73m
Hull length: 10.13m
Beam: 3.83m
Max. draft: 1.06m
Deadrise: n/a
Weight: Approx 8500kg (dry w/ IPS 400s)



Berths: 5+1
Fuel: 800lt
Water: 390lt
Holding tank: 80lt



Make/Model: Volvo Penta IPS 400s
Type: Four-cylinder electronic turbocharged diesel engine with common rail injection and pod drives
Rated HP: 301 at 3500rpm
Displacement: 3.7lt
Weight: Approx 780kg for complete package
Props: Forward-facing Duoprop bronze



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

Source: Trade-a-Boat, Jun 2009

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