REVIEW: RIVIERA 68 FLYBRIDGE

By: KEVIN SMITH, Photography by: KEVIN SMITH & SUPPLIED

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Flybridge cruisers offer three levels of living space and commanding views from the helm, as Riviera’s most advanced boat capably demonstrates.

Riviera 68 Flybridge 11

While Riviera may export a good part of its 100-plus annual builds overseas, the home market remains the first rigorous testing ground for these highly-sought vessels.

The latest, the four cabin 68-footer that launched at the Sydney Boat Show in August, represents the launch of a new higher-specification range dubbed the Sports Motor Yacht collection, and includes the upcoming 72ft model as well.

These yachts are intended as bluewater adventure boats and as such, boast exceptional long range capability – our 68 review boat can do 2000Nm in displacement mode – and with levels of self-sufficiency to match.

Chatting with company owner Rodney Longhurst during the unveiling at Sydney, he explained what was involved during two years of bringing it to market.

"All of the owners we spoke with were seeking a new style of motor yacht," said the Riv CEO.

"Their dream was a bluewater yacht that combines speed, sportfishing and other watersports capabilities, with the confidence of high bulwark side decks, a foredeck entertainment centre, fully enclosed flybridge with internal stairs, a covered mezzanine dining area and ultra-luxurious interiors.

"This new Sports Motor Yacht comprehensively delivers on their brief."

DOCKSIDE VIEW

Riviera 68 Flybridge 10

The Riviera 68 I boarded for our sea trial was an interesting fusion of old and new.

Old, or perhaps retro in its sense of the styling, with bold drops of the sheerline and a raked bridge deck, but also packing an ultra-modern interior and systems.

Living space is plentiful, from the wide hydraulic teak swimplatform to the bow cockpit, with three levels of interior and exterior space in between.

This allows the Riviera 68 to be an all-season boat, ideal for most parts of the world.

All navigation will likely take place from the flybridge, but remote helm stations are available in the aft cockpit and the flybridge exterior balcony as well.

The overall layout follows convention, with the galley aft for easy access to cockpit diners, while ahead of that, the saloon enjoys forward seclusion with the main accommodation corridor below.

This demarcation from the working part of the boat – upstairs flybridge; then galley with adjoining quarters beneath – makes the Riviera ideal for both crewed or family boating.

The saloon entry has a bar with stools while inside the U-shaped galley is extensively fitted with deep double sinks surrounded by work tops.

There’s a four-burner induction electric stove with a large microwave convection oven and a dishwasher; plus sea views aft to inspire the chef.

SECLUDED SALOON

Riviera 68 Flybridge 2

Walking forward into the saloon reveals a cosy area with couches either side, where the centrepiece is a beautifully crafted walnut table.

Beside this is an island bench which, cleverly, can have a wooden top to become a coffee table.

Sinking into the sumptuous upholstered bench gives clear views through the large side and forward windows.

Should you tire of the view, a 55in screen TV is unobtrusively integrated into the galley bulkhead.

For the skipper, a watertight pantograph door on port leads to the side deck, allowing quick access to mooring lines and the foredeck.

OWNER’S CABIN

Riviera 68 Flybridge 7

When it’s time to rest, you step down through the forward saloon to the accommodation corridor.

The main owner’s cabin uses the full 6m beam of the Riviera 68 to locate the berth aft while the bow has the main guest cabin, with two smaller ones in between.

Alternatively, the ‘Presidential layout’ has three cabins and a large longitudinal ensuite, creating an enlarged owner’s berth which includes a lounge area.

Either way, the owner enjoys a king-size bed, a feature headboard and bedside tables with leather inlay and ample storage underneath.

There are his/hers cedar-lined hanging wardrobes on either side of the stateroom and a 40in TV with five surround sound speakers.

Airflow felt good, thanks to opening portholes and fixed hull windows for natural light.

The stylish guest stateroom forward includes a walkaround queen-size bed, with storage beneath and wardrobe space either side.

Sweeping hull windows are an eye-catching feature and will draw in natural light, while an overhead hatch enables fresh air as well as privacy.

The port cabin aft of the guest stateroom has twin single beds which can, at the touch of a button, form a double.

My only complaint is the high gloss varnish used throughout which would require constant polishing to avoid finger marks, so this wouldn’t be my first choice of finish.

FLYBRIDGE ENTERTAINER

Riviera 68 Flybridge 8

The staircase to the flybridge adjoins the saloon lounge, so a few steps takes the skipper to the working part of the Riviera 68 without ever getting his deck shoes wet.

This large area is really a separate lounge and al fresco dining area with navigation done at the forward section.

The tall headroom can be enhanced by opening the electronic sunroof, while a sturdy ceiling handrail guides you fore and aft – a tall boat like this will invariably roll at sea. These are the kind of things that differentiate Riviera from some other brands that are keen on emphasising style over practicality, something I appreciated when I took this boat offshore for four hours in 1-2m swells.

Up in this flybridge space, guests are equally well taken care of.

A stainless steel framed glass door and awning window connects the flybridge with a large aft deck and al fresco dining area with an L-shaped seating area, as well as space for two standalone dining chairs.

Riviera 68 Flybridge 4

A wet bar on the port side includes a solid surface bench top, stainless steel sink with mixer tap, an ice maker, drinks fridge and drawers for glass storage.

There’s also a small watertight battery box inside the wet bar unit to give emergency power for the electronic navigation and control systems in the flybridge.

At the console, the skipper is on the centreline of the vessel, so they can judge both sides equally and see aft easily (with cameras enhancing the lower views aft).

The helm is dominated by a row of four 22in Garmin nav screens – ideal for large format views of charts, radar, cameras and sonar.

The Twin Disc joystick-transmission is the key instrument for slow manoeuvring, as I found when taking the big Riviera out of the marina.

GAME CHAIR

Riviera 68 Flybridge 1

In warm climates, usable deck space on your bluewater explorer is essential.

To this end, the aft is cleverly divided into two cockpit areas, both finished in teak.

The other essential is shade, so the inner aft cockpit includes a large covered dining area with a gleaming walnut table alongside the transom bench seating.

Aft of this and below this is the outer cockpit.

Recalling company owner Longhurst’s opening remarks, a game chair can be included here for when the marlin are running.

Practicalities also abound, including four large deck hatches.

The outer two provide storage or fish bins while the inner two provide access to the aft lazarette and the steering system.

A barbecue unit is also found in this outer cockpit, ideal for grilling those pelagic prizes as they come sliding onto the swimplatform.

The bow is equally well appointed, thanks to a spacious sunken entertaining area with seating for eight, or at least when the Williams jet tender is not in place which shares this space.

The tender can be launched and retrieved via a hydraulic davit arm capable of 550kg lifts.

The area can also be covered with a folding bimini – an ideal space at anchor for sun worshippers or a spot to relax and savour a drink after a day’s cruising.

OPTIMISED HULL

Riviera 68 Flybridge 13

The hull has a fine entry with plenty of bow flare to minimise spray, while chines underneath give directional stability as the aft section flattens behind the keel to promote planing.

Propellers are housed in tunnels to minimise drag and the 6m beam is wide enough to cope with heavier loads required for bluewater cruising.

In designing the hull, Riviera partnered with naval architects Mulder Design in the Netherlands – who has the distinction of designing three of the fastest superyachts in the world.

The hull is built to CE standards, obligatory given that so much of the company’s sales are now found overseas, with America the major region – but Europe is firmly in sight.

Construction is handlaid fibreglass with foam core topsides and solid fibreglass on the keel, longitudinals and other key structural areas.

OFF TO SEA

Riviera 68 Flybridge 5

Manoeuvring a 50-tonne, A$3.4 million motoryacht is not to be done casually, so my concentration was fully focussed as I stood on the flybridge to ease the Riviera 68 off. Pushing the Twin Disc joystick to one side, the Riviera obediently followed as the fore and aft thrusters engaged with the twin propellers to keep the hull parallel to the dock as I cleared.

The tall flybridge generates a lot of windage, so this system is essential for non-professional skippers who want stress-free handling.

My sea trial would be a coastal voyage north from Sydney, in order to experience swells rolling up from the Southern Ocean to test this new hull.

Many Riviera owners venture south of Sydney to explore the wild shores of the Southern Ocean around Tasmania and Australia’s southern coast, so these boats are built with this in mind.

Accelerating through Sydney Harbour, the comfortable leather bucket seat and clear views all round gave me the confidence to enjoy the ride rather than worry about the shipping on the harbour.

Leaving the harbour entrance, I initially went south to confront the southerly swell and feel the Riviera rise to the waves.

Only dull thuds were felt and no groaning came from any furnishings.

Turning to the swells invariably brought a steep roll to my steering position – one reason why European boats often include a downstairs console as well – but once heading north again, the Riviera rode the swells with ease doing a comfortable 27kt and a fuel burn of 520L/hr.

Throttling back to a more economical cruise speed of 22kt showed 367L/hr, which would give a range of about 400nm.

Increasing these figures can be done by slowing to displacement mode of 8kt which would give a range of 1700nm or more, ideal for those major sea crossings; something this Riviera 68 will do with aplomb.

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICED FROM

A$3.4 million

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Monohull flybridge cruiser

LENGTH 22.86m

BEAM 6m

DRAFT 1.76m

WEIGHT 45,900kg (light ship)

CAPACITIES

FUEL 7000L

WATER 1000 litres

PEOPLE 8

ENGINE

TYPE 2 x MAN V12 1550hp

WEIGHT 2270kg (each)

PROPELLORS Nibral five blade

GENERATOR (Primary) 27.5 kW; (Backup) 13.5 kW

MANUFACTURED BY

Riviera Australia

50 Waterway Drive,

Coomera, Queensland

+61 7 5561 7266

info@riviera.com.au

 


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