BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 5000 SPORT YACHT
Riviera is back in demand by not only corporate suitors angling to buy the iconic boatbuilder but also smart skippers seeking nautical style, comfort and utility. DAVID LOCKWOOD tests the dashing new 5000 Sport Yacht.
NOVEMBER, 2009 - If you need any further example of why Rivieras are so popular with Australian pleasureboaters then cast your eyes over the new 5000 Sport Yacht. Here's a boat that follows in the footsteps - and indeed replaces - the popular 4700 Sport Yacht powered by twin 575 to 715hp diesel engines with traditional shaft drives. But the changes are many, not least being the fact that this is the first production boat in Australia to feature Cummins Marine Diesel's revolutionary Zeus drives.
Named after the king of the gods, Zeus comprises twin steerable underwater drives linked by fly-by-wire technology to a joystick controller that is, well, a godsend for docking. Shunt the joystick where you want the boat to go and the boat obeys. Twist the knob on the top of the controller and the boat pirouettes. Put the throttles to the dash and you will experience a sporty ride, indeed.
But Zeus has other things going for it, notably Skyhook, an invisible anchor that, at the press of a button, maintains your boat's position and heading by checking with satellites and automatically shifting the engines in and out of gear. Engage Skyhook and you can fender-up, prepare the mooring lines, and then dock a boat like this on your own.
Zeus also features an integrated trim tab system and autopilot for hands-free cruising in fine fettle. In fact, thanks to the efficiencies of the sleek drives, and the ability to run smaller engines to derive great performance, the price of this mid-range Sport Yacht has come down.
Would you believe the boat we drove on Sydney Harbour with twin 600hp QSC 8.3 Cummins common rail engines is some $5000 cheaper than the first 4700 SY I tested in 2006 with upgraded C12 715hp Caterpillars. Less is more. Way to go.
A BOATING MATE
But for all that is new and exciting about the 5000 SY, the foundation is tried-and-tested. You see, there were 80 of the $1.2 million 4700 SYs built in just three years. And wherever I do my boating, there's always a good chance that a 4700 SY or three will be parked nearby. The 4700's omnipresence is partly due to the fact that it was a big hit with boat-share companies. Like it, the new 5000 SY is bound to covet favour with families wanting to cruise in company and loll about at anchor on a sunny Sunday.
Designed especially for the Australian way of boating, the 5000 SY impresses the moment you set foot aboard. After all, the boarding platform is a submersible number that is at once a fun feature, but also a helping hand that assists with launching the tender, if not you bodily into the briny. The platform's capacity is 350kg, so you could carry a PWC.
The tender, a 2.9m model with 15hp outboard, is parked in a moulded garage, so grabbing supplies or staging an assault on the beach won't take much effort at all. And when it comes time to pack up the boat, no worries, stash the toys back into the garage, close the door, and go.
Like all good lifestyle conveyances, the 5000 SY has a barbecue. But unlike a lot of boats this barbie is mounted in the boot so you can cook up a storm from the aforesaid boarding platform, which, when submersed a short depth, won't be affected by spitting sausage fat. Furthermore, unlike most boat barbies, which are in fact hot plates, this one is a Miele electric number with volcanic rocks for extra smoke, sizzle and flavour.
Up a few steps either side of the garage is a new seating arrangement in the generous cockpit. It includes an aft-facing L-shaped lounge and teak dinette beneath an optional extended canopy that casts welcome shade. Thus positioned, you can enjoy stirring views looking back down the anchorage as you tuck into your repast. There is also a transom lounge and together you can seat a few families for lunch.
Nearby are the outdoor fridge, icemaker and a second eutectic fridge under the aforesaid lounge that can be dialled up as a freezer. There is also a decent amount of counter space to serve a salad, buffet lunch, or breakfast. At the same time, the remaining cockpit space is generous and a thoroughfare remains through the boat to assist with entertaining, allowing guests to sashay inside to the day head or the owners to sweep in and out of the aft galley. We'll get to that.
Walkaround decks assist with your journey forward. Up front you'll find a big sunpad that serves as an additional lounging area that will come in handy when you have a boatload of tweens, teenagers or kiddies aboard. One day, designers will have the good sense to include a recessed pull-up canopy so you can create a kind of beach tent on the bow.
Underfloor are the twin Cummins QSC 8.3 common rail 600hp diesel engines with 1.8m long jackshafts to the rear-mounted Zeus drives. Compared with the old 4700 SY, the engines are 700mm farther aft, resulting in space gains in the three-cabin or optional two-cabin-and-below-decks-lounge accommodation plan. In fact, the 5000 SY has been described as having the volume of a 65-footer.
What I like about the obvious gains in space is that they don't come at the expense of servicing room. It really is a breeze getting around all sides of the compact 8.3lt blocks and accessing the ancillary items from hot-water service to Cruisair air-con units, Racor filters, strainers and generator.
The solid-fibreglass hull itself has been slightly modified, with a reduction in the keel extension, while a standard-issue 3000W inverter and 24V system are the latest in silent-ship operation. Take it from us - it's a good sensible engineroom and the electrical systems have evolved.
The saloon being on the same level as the cockpit makes for a seamless saunter indoors. Large picture widows frame the views, a huge leather lounge can seat eight before a folding table and there is a flatscreen satellite television connected to a Bose Lifestyle system, linked to the aforesaid inverter. Above, the sunroof opens at the press of a button. Or run the generator and the air-conditioning for total climate control.
The joinery is high-gloss cherrywood varnished on a special Italian machine, leading to no visible drips or runs, while the lighting is the latest low-amperage LED type. But the galley is what vies for your attention. It's surrounded by Corian counters and replete with European appliances including drawer-style fridges and freezers, dishwasher, and combination microwave and convection oven.
Located aft, the galley is ready to serve the crowd back outdoors through the adjoining opening awning window. The heavy-duty frameless stainless steel architraves add to the sense of intent, while the matching stainless steel facias on the appliances and five-star finishes provide a lick of chic.
FIND YOUR CABIN
After dinner, the three cabins and two heads call, with the communal or guest's bathroom immediately to starboard where it's easily found. Adjoining here is a twin-bunks cabin. The stateroom is forward with island double berth and en suite with expectedly big shower, while the reconfigured aft cabin has a double and new single bed. So you can comfortably sleep seven aboard the 5000 SY. That might appeal during holiday time. Storage space is plentiful.
Twin leather seats with fold-down bolsters or bases ensure there's plenty of legroom at the helm. The views are clear through the windscreen, looking over the sporty wheel, and the raised dash home to a big spread of electronics. SmartCraft electronic engine-monitoring gauges, the joystick docking controller and throttles for the Zeus all fall to hand.
HIGH AND DRY
Compared with the old 4700 SY, the 5000 SY rides higher, with better trim angles, and it is noticeably drier. Riviera claims 10 to 15 per cent better efficiency using the same hull but with smaller engines than the 4700 SY. By my gauge, acceleration was swift and the noise levels were greatly reduced. It's just a nice boat to drive and, in no time, you become one with the 5000 SY.
It's about now that storm clouds began yelling out loud, noisy kinda fellas, so we grabbed our umbrellas, and made haste with the sea trials around The Sound between The Heads. There wasn't time to jot things down, so we will instead defer to the official supplied figures instead.
Riviera claims a top speed of 31.9kts at 3070rpm, but 2200 to 2400rpm is the cruising groove for 18.5 to 25kts - pick your speed depending on sea conditions - and a range of about 300nm. Following the boat's debut at the Sydney International Boat Show back in August, the 5000 SY has apparently been a hit with new blood to boating and serious cruising types who envisage spending long summer holidays aboard.
With the economy on the mend, pleasure boating back on the radar, and a shortage of stock on the second-hand market, Australia's biggest boatbuilder, Riviera, has suddenly filled all its production slots for the year. The company that went into receivership in May is back in hot demand, not only by corporate suitors angling to buy the iconic Gold Coast boatbuilder, but with the swelling ranks of would-be skippers keen to get afloat this summer.
Proving that innovation and utility can be good bedfellows, the new 5000 Sport Yacht is a great example of why Riviera still holds sway. Not that the Australian boatbuilder is reinventing the wheel. True blue, dinky-di, a good sport - the 5000 SY ticks a mountain of boxes and is destined for an anchorage near you.
(Facts & Figures)
RIVIERA 5000 SPORT YACHT
PRICE AS TESTED
The Riviera 5000 Sport Yacht, hull # 1 was selling for approx $1.1975 million w/ Cummins 600hp QSC 8.3 diesel engines and Zeus drives, and options
Hull colour, Raymarine electronics pack, extra TVs, electric dinghy launch, foam-filled under forward floor, icemaker, dishwasher, extra freezer, teak deck, L-shaped cockpit lounge, extended awning, and more
$1.095 million w/ twin 600hp QSC 8.3 diesel engines
Materials: Solid GRP hull and sides
Type: Moderate-vee monohull
Length overall: 16.69m inc. bowsprit and boarding platform
Hull length: 15.46m
Weight: 18,000kg (dry w/ standard motors)
Holding tank: 151lt
Engine: Twin Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSC 8.3
Type: Common rail six-cylinder diesel engine
Drives: Zeus steerable underwater pod drives
Props: Counter-rotating props
R Marine Sydney, d'Albora Marina, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, 2011, 9327 0000, www.rmarinesydney.com.au
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