REVIEW: RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE

By: JEFF STRANG, Photography by: ELLEN DEWAR & JACK MURPHY

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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The Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge will replace one of Riviera’s most successful vessels, the Riviera 51 Enclosed Flybridge.

Riviera Boats is well aware of the flybridge cruiser genre’s popularity and has built an Australian legend around the 50-foot class. In the early days it was probably closer to 40 feet but it has slowly grown in keeping with its audience’s ambitions.

I spent a good deal of time plying my former trade on the company’s 40 Flybridge, 43 Flybridge, 48 Flybridge and most recently its excellent 51 Enclosed Flybridge – the vessel preceding the subject of our attentions today.

It is never an easy decision to replace a product as successful as the 51 EF and Riviera has probably put the day off as long as it could. But new propulsion technologies and changes in internal layouts – features already offered in other areas of its fleet – might well have forced the company’s hand. 

 

FLYBRIDGE CRUISER

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE

In this new boat Riviera says: "The design team has retained elements of the distinctive Riviera look, while introducing a raft of exciting new design aspects."

This is certainly true. The 50 EF demonstrates classic Riviera profiles, indeed more than any other boat from the marque that I have reviewed in the past two years.

The proportions are better than on a couple of recent models and the lines are crisper. Outwardly this is a cleaner, sleeker version of the boats that put the company on the map and as such I am sure it will appeal to the Riviera family. But will it also grab a few converts?

The answer to that question lies deeper than the gelcoat.

 

ACCOMMODATION

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED DOUBLE CABIN

The downstairs accommodation area of the 50 EF is a svelte example of feedback, analysis and implementation. In a completely fresh move Riviera has cleverly separated the central sleeping quarters into two cabins.

The port side has a master cabin with en suite and a twin-single cabin to port, while a VIP cabin with a dual-entry bathroom occupies the forepeak.

Alternatively, the master cabin can be configured with twin-single roll-together beds and the forward cabin can be set-up as the master by changing the entry to its adjacent bathroom to allow for a private-access en suite.

This is the sort of clever thinking that gets the attention of boat critics like me but more importantly it increases the appeal of the vessel to larger families or those who regularly entertain their teenagers’ friends.

As expected, all the detail work and finishing is to Riviera’s usual high standards, including splashes of oak and teak in all the right places along with touches like brushed aluminium capping on the stairwell edges to ensure longevity.

 

LOUNGE

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE LOUNGE

The first thing anyone will notice in the saloon is the striking 360° views – made possible by oversized windows. Even when seated, the eye line is set to a level that affords uninhibited observation of the panorama outside.

Divided into two sections, with a generous galley aft and the saloon proper forward, the Riviera 50EF’s primary living deck offers almost as much versatility as the accommodation spaces.

The six-seat lounger is finished in genuine leather and surrounds an adjustable wooden coffee table, which would service four for dinner at a push. It can seat another by rolling the ottoman opposite across (it’s enclosed as part of a two-seat lounger on the starboard side).

 

GALLEY

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE GALLEY

Also making the most of the neck-twisting views, a large U-shaped galley – configured in a manner allowing it to service the outdoors via a hopper window and the indoors simultaneously – fills the rest of this deck.

Naturally, the galley is outfitted with all the mod cons: micro convention oven, two-burner cooktop, dish-drawer dishwasher, five separate sets of refrigeration, iPod/iPhone charging centre, etc.

But it is the little touches with nods to the practicalities of cooking on a boat that defines the quality. These include an excellent inbuilt waste bin in the countertop, an anti-drip lip around the benches and plenty of handles, including an overhead rail to grab when the unexpected happens.

 

COCKPIT

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE COCKPIT

The aft deck (aka the cockpit) of the 50 EF boasts both impressive proportions.

An appropriate centrepiece, the huge twin-plate barbecue dominates the middle of the boat’s transom, while opposite, against the aft bulkhead, a well-upholstered two-person couch provides a comfortable reclining spot to soak up the gourmet action.

Additional features in no particular order include an oversized chest freezer behind the couch, a wet locker for wetsuits and other salty gear, a sink and waste bin, a large lazarette and a Vitrigo fridge – just in case the five refrigeration units inside aren’t enough.

 

ENGINE ROOM

RIVIERA 50 ENGINE ROOM

Access to the engineroom is via a hydraulic ram-assisted hatch built into the steps that lead inside. As expected, a surgically white engineering department greets you as you climb down the stairs. At the time I was surprised by the cool temperature down here – given we had been steaming for more than an hour – so I guess the fans are efficient.

All is well, with reasonable service access to most of the nooks and crannies, although the far starboard side is slightly restricted. Of particular note are the excellent generator access, including full-height standing room, the dedicated freshwater washdown facility and the generally high-quality of the plumbing and systems labelling.

 

FLYBRIDGE

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE CRUISER

Moulded stairwells either side of the cockpit lead to the bow via reasonable-width walkways enclosed by quality stainless steel handrails. As well as a Muir windless, a Davco davit rated to 350kg finds a home on the bow.

The flybridge’s single point of entry is an elegantly finished solid-timber internal stairwell. Cosy surrounds of a similar style to those found below welcome you at the summit. Like most bridges in this class, the top deck of the 50 EF is separated into a navigation zone forward with a guest recliner to one side and an observation lounge aft surrounding a dining table.

The highlight for me is the wide, electrically operated sunroof. Although a fairly common feature these days, it is hard to find a more functional solution to letting the outdoors in and quickly shutting it out again when a change in conditions calls.

The primary helm station with its über-comfortable twin Pompanette leather helm seats has the expected sporty look, with room for plenty of eye-catching bling. The skipper’s seat is located to the far port side and offers great views within easy reach of all the important control systems. A joystick-only station to the rear and starboardside of the bridge offers visibility and precision when docking.

 

ENGINE PERFORMANCE

RIVIERA 50 AT TOP SPEED

To the best of my knowledge the Riviera 50 EF is only sold with a choice of 600hp Cummins Zeus, Volvo Penta IPS800 or IPS900 pod-drive installations.

The test boat is presented with the Cummins option and as such is the first flybridge boat from Riviera I have personally tested with the QSC drive units. Both Zeus and IPS joystick control systems are ideal for novice boaters, so a test drive around the wharf wasn’t warranted.

Fuel performance at low speeds is impressively frugal; perhaps the correspondingly low engine noise is a reflection of this. Pushing the revs up elicits the usual turbocharged whistle followed by a fairly rapid increase in speed.

I did enjoy a good spin on the wheel with some tight, high-speed manoeuvring. While I do not find pod drives as responsive as shafts, the complete lack of vibration in a straight line – which really matters – is a point of difference worth noting.

In performance terms, at 2600 revs the boat is making way at about 22kts, probably the optimum for the 50 EF’s hull. At this speed the test boat is drinking 175lt/h. Interestingly, even at WOT (wide open throttle, 2990 revs) consumption only peaks at 244lt/h, while delivering an attention-grabbing 27.2kts, so it is fair to say the boat remains reasonably economical once clear of the hole and fully trimmed out for speed.

 

THE VERDICT

RIVIERA 50 FLYBRIDGE CRUISER

For a boat looking to make a name in one of the industry’s most competitive segments the new Riviera 50 EF cannot afford to be anything but very good indeed. Time will tell but it seems all the components required to deliver on its promise are in place. It certainly offers family friendly versatility, fuel efficiency and space.

 

[HIGHS]

› Crisper, cleaner lines and balanced proportions

› A new configuration downstairs offers versatility

› Great views through saloon windows

› Acres of cockpit space with the appropriate accessories

 

[LOWS]

› Dining table on the smaller side of practical

 

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$1,619,876

 

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Planing monohull

LOA 17.26m

BEAM 5.01m

DRAFT 1.33m

WEIGHT 23,000kg (dry)

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6+2

FUEL 3000lt

WATER 750lt

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL 2 x Cummins Zeus QSC600

TYPE Electronically injected turbo-diesel

RATED HP 600 (each)

 

SUPPLIED BY

Riviera,

50 Waterway Drive, Coomera, QLD, 4209

Phone: (07) 5502 5555

Website: www.riviera.com.au

 

LAYOUT

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE LOWER DECK

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE MIDDLE DECK

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE UPPER DECK

RIVIERA 50 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE SIDE LAYOUT

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-a-Boat #446, November / December 2013 

Find Riviera boats for sale.

 


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