Super Seventy

Mark Rothfield | VOLUME 23, ISSUE 5

Riviera has exceeded expectations with the launch of Australia’s largest-ever production cruiser, the new Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge…

Spotting the new Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge at a crowded marina is as easy as finding the haystack with a needle, for it stands like a colossus above its peers, and its piers. Everything looks up to it, literally and figuratively.

To step aboard is to enter the mythical “Land of the Giants”.

Mighty ocean swells are magically reduced to mere ripples on a pond, while its own bow wave would keep Kelly Slater entertained for hours. Thirty knots of boat speed seems more like 15, transforming long voyages into luncheon cruises.

Ensconce yourself in the engineroom, with its standing headroom, mirrored ceiling, massive Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels and oversized strainers and valves, and you feel like crying: “The plane! The plane!”.

Surrounding boats and people shrink, too. Upon entering an anchorage, I saw what looked like two kids rowing a small inflatable and urged our skipper to keep an eye on them. Can’t be more than 10 years old, I surmised … siblings out for a day of innocent exploration.

When next I looked from deck level, however, the ‘children’ had their tongues firmly locked in a moist embrace and the lad’s hands were exploring his partner in a manner normally reserved for much more intimate surroundings. Errr … scratch siblings – make that romantic teenagers.

It’s weird, the whole experience … even the $5million price tag appears infinitesimal when you tally up the goodies.

Proportionally and aesthetically, the 70-footer looks like a Riviera, feels like a Riviera. It was designed in-house, engineered in-house, and the furniture components were finished and varnished in-house. It’s all familiar, yet strangely different. Larger than life.

LANDMARK BOAT

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a landmark boat; a boat that brought Riviera CEO Wes Moxey’s career to a stunning climax and perhaps holds the key to replacement John Anderson’s future.

Gaze into the 70’s mirrored topsides and it’s possible to see not only where the Gold Coast builder is heading, but from whence it has come.

This bold, beautiful vessel is at the vanguard of a revolution – a Rivolution, if you like.

A few years ago, it was impossible to imagine that the flybridge convertible formula could be stretched to such heady limits, despite their good work with the 60. But tastes and trends change and, while Mr Average is now barely treading water, Richie Rich is doing swimmingly.

In big boats, there is big money. In good boats, there is even bigger money and, on reputation alone, five 70s were sold off the plan, while six and seven are in the pipeline. All are domestic sales, to existing clients keen to stay in the clan.

The owner of 70/01, our test craft, inspected it shortly before launch and loved what he saw. “I was expecting a lot for $5 million,” he apparently told the production team, “but you’ve exceeded my expectations.”

So unashamedly proud of the construction work was Riviera that they lifted the covers to give journos sneak peeks of the “before” stages … first, with its deck off and engineering installations in full swing, then in the final throes of fit-out (the “Oh @$%*, the Sydney boat show is in three weeks!” phase).

Certainly, it was like an old girlfriend when I finally hopped aboard on a sparkling spring day on Pittwater – having seen her bottom, I could barely wait to get intimate up top.

MIND-NUMBING FEATURES

But before we get going, some housekeeping. The remaining pages could be filled with a mind-numbing list of features, such is the risk when testing vessels of this calibre. Riveria devotes six A4 pages to its spec sheet and my own notes read like a cross between a Whitworths and Domaine catalogue.

Galley benchtops are solid granite … bathroom vanities are marble … flooring is a mixture of teak-and-holly Amtico, Italian porcelain tiles, laid teak and plush carpet … timberwork is cherrywood … lounges are upholstered in premium New Zealand leather … whitegoods are Miele and on it goes.

Get the drift? Then let’s cut to the chase. Think of a number, or a size, and double it.

Gensets, for example? Two – Onan 22.5kW, with one being a back-up. There are also three alternators, three battery chargers and a 5kW inverter, not to mention 10 batteries.

Air conditioning units? Three – two of 48,000 BTU for the saloon and flybridge, one of 42,000 BTU for the staterooms.

For LCD TVs, multiply by five – there’s a 42-inch in the saloon, a 26 in the flybridge, 32 in the master stateroom and two 20s in the VIP stateroom and starboard cabin, respectively. It has Foxtel digital, naturally. In addition, there are five or six Bose entertainment units on board.

To tether the 42 tonne (dry weight) hull you need an 82-kilogram anchor and more than a footy field (120 metres) of chain. With a maximum burn rate of 720 litres per hour, fuel capacity on the Vanuatu-based test boat is 11,000 litres (8000 is standard), which will put a nice old chunk in your platinum credit card at $2-plus a litre.

In terms of layout, there are myriad possibilities when you have this much open-plan space to play with. A production boat it may be but, in the 5-mill club, owners demand and generally receive customisation.

Boat one has an alfresco twin-seater dinette at cockpit mezzanine level in lieu of the standard aft-facing settee. A custom-made barbecue hotplate resides in the transom module usually reserved for livebait, instead of being recessed in the mezzanine stair. In the forepeak are twin bunk rooms with central divider, being crew quarters rather than an additional guest stateroom.

MASTERFUL MASTER

A full-beam master stateroom with ensuite and twin walk-in robes was a primary objective, so the designers built around that concept. The beam, incidentally, is 6.32 metres or almost 21 feet, which allows a king-sized island berth, bedside drawers, a writing bureau/dresser and twin-seat lounge. It is, indeed, “stately”.

Adjacent to the stairwell is the day head, with ensuite access to the portside guest cabin, which has two singles and a fold-down Pullman berth. To starboard is the second stateroom, boasting a queen-sized double (or twin singles in the standard layout).

Hull ports assist with natural cabin light and the walls of the long central passageway are lined with a creamy, textured fabric – timber would’ve looked too dark and sombre.

Enter the polished stainless steel saloon door upstairs and you’re enveloped by the scent of money. High, wide and handsome, it feels like a house … the Opera House. Plush lounges accommodate nine people, while the coffee table houses pull-out poofs (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

The C-shaped galley consumes almost half the saloon length; a nod to wives perhaps. Only fresh air and waterviews are above bench height. Opposite is a stand-alone eight-seater dining table, its chairs restrained by straps during passage making.

Even on a 23-metre boat, space is precious. Push a button on the nearby liquor cabinet and a three-tiered glass rack rises majestically. Concealed behind front bulkhead doors are a wine fridge, washing machine, dryer, garbage compactor and the ducted vac.

I happen to like forward views when underway so the galley would have to be reconfigured and the laundry relocated, but the multimillionaire in me would expect nothing less.

With a straight internal staircase leading to the enclosed bridge, the ‘penthouse’ is where day activities will take place. Sporting an electric sliding sunroof and opening glass bulkhead, it’s like a Riviera 4400 saloon hovering six metres above sea level. Close everything, including the electric blinds, and it’s a cone of unerring silence – with a leather lounge, wetbar and tele.

Three pedestal-mounted seats stretch across the helm console, as do a raft of Raymarine E Series screens, engine monitors and radios. A camera assists with the rear view and there’s a docking station on the flybridge aft deck.

STYLISH ENGINEERING

All controls lead to the engineroom, of course, where style meets engineering substance. A technician could spend hours down below, if only to admire the plumbing and wiring.

The floor is hand-faired then painted in two-pack gloss polyurethane, while only the freshest of air permeates the moisture-inhibiting intake vents. An Amtico-lined walkway separates the motors, plus a tool cabinet and workbench (with vice) are provided.

Though the owner is more likely to make a cappuccino than check the oil, servicing-wise there’s easy access to the separators, sea strainers, gate valves, battery chargers, air-con units and bilge pumps, which are the usual maintenance suspects.

Again highlighting its sea worthiness, the 70has dual pumps for the hydraulic steering, one being a back-up. Should there be a primary steering failure, god forbid, there’s a joystick-controlled emergency unit.

Speaking of steering, you’d think the big Riv was in pro skipper territory, but no. It’s easier to handle than it looks, courtesy of bow and stern thrusters and clever Twin Disc Quickshift gearboxes.

Bang the twin 1825hp diesels straight in gear and the 70-footer will do 8.4 knots – way too fast for berthing. But the skipper can dial the throttles to “slow”, which lowers the idle revs from 700 to 550rpm, with a corresponding speed drop.

Better still, engage the “express” mode, which maintains 700rpm while feathering the props. It’s a bit like clutch-slip, limiting speed to a manageable 2.2 knots. When bait and lure fishing, the “troll” mode sets speeds of about two knots and nine knots respectively.

Underway, planing comes at 15 knots and the hull rides relatively flat – Frank Mulder has incorporated prop tunnels to reduce shaft angle to 11 degrees. At 1500rpm, with the two engines operating at 50 per cent load and burning a total of 240 litres per hour, speed builds to 18 knots.

Come 2000rpm, we’re talking 29.5 knots, 65 per cent load and a total consumption of 440 litres per hour. Wring another 300 revs from the Cats and speed climbs to 34.5 … but they’re guzzling 720 litres all-up.

At no stage did it feel like we were doing anywhere near that speed, so quiet are the engines and seamanlike the hull shape. It turns adroitly, with no loss of speed. The hydraulic steering has just enough resistance to impart feel through the driver’s hands.

In the low-slung cockpit, you get a new perspective on the vast amount of water being displaced. Life could get a little damp in certain conditions, but at least the underwater exhausts take care of fumes.

Engine options range from twin 1572hp Cats to 1823hp MTU M93s. The test boat’s Cats did just fine, using only 370 litres at a cruise speed of 25 knots. Sensibly driven, the boat can go from the Gold Coast to Vanuatu on one tank.

A Gold Coast to Sydney run saw 6500 litres burned, but the 70-footer achieved that in 20 hours against a strong headwind. During our test, the wind gauge registered 45 knots apparent – gale force – as we charged into a sou-wester, so air resistance becomes a major performance factor when such a large expanse of fibreglass is confronted.

At the time of writing, Riv’s engineers were trialling smaller props to extract another 50rpm from the Cats. No doubt they’ll tinker with other aspects, for the first child can be troublesome.

There are flaws in every boat, of course. Often it takes an experienced owner to detect them and in some cases it’s preferential, like the use of electric thrusters instead of hydraulic. Every problem is surmountable – at a price.

The long and short of it is that the 70 is a genuine Aussie superboat. And somehow it’s fitting that our biggest production boatbuilder is now our biggest production boatbuilder in the true sense.

That’s one small step for Riviera, one giant leap for our marine industry.

SPECIFICATIONS: RIVIERA 70 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE

LOA: 23.34m

Hull length: 22.07m

Beam: 6.32m

Draft: 1.70m

Displacement (dry): 41,920kg

Power: 2 x Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels, 1825hp, turbo-charged, after-cooled

Fuel: 8000lt (11,000 on test)

Water: 1000lt plus 284 lt/hr watermaker as standard

Grey water: 500lt

Black water: 500lt

Construction: Solid fibreglass hull, with core in decks, cabin top and hull sides, vinylester resin in first outer layer, isophthalic gelcoat. Watertight collision bulkhead forward.

Price: $4,876,110

As tested: $5,450,000

Builder: Riviera Marine

MOXEY’S MODEL EXIT

There’s one Riviera 70 that money can’t buy, even though it’s only a scale model. To the happily retired Wes Moxey, his parting gift from colleagues means more than the real thing.

The model takes pride of place on the mantelpiece of Wes’s Gold Coast home, serving as a constant reminder of a rewarding and satisfying 26-year career with Riviera.

Wes began on the factory floor and climbed to the top under the guidance of Bill Barry-Cotter. Business acumen he learnt the hard way, employing values his parents had taught him.

Despite the current parlous state of the market, the 48-year-old could not have parted company on a higher note, the 70’s launch being his defining moment and coup de grace.

“I held back initially on bringing the 70 to the market because I didn’t feel the company was ready or mature enough,” Wes said. “Now, when I look at that product, I’m extremely proud of it. In the world of 70-foot convertibles, it sits in the top echelon.”

His decision to retire rather than enjoy the ride was spurred by family considerations, contrary to rumours.

“It was a heart-felt decision to leave the brand, the people and the product that I love,” Wes said.

“But I have two boys, aged 12 and eight. I didn’t want to be a rich dad with bad kids. You can’t buy their love and loyalty.

“I grew up on a dairy farm so I want my kids to go back to basics, not Surfers Paradise and the nightclub scene.”

Giving young apprentices a helping hand was perhaps the former CEO’s greatest legacy. Under his leadership, the company won national employment and training awards. And while building the marque into a household name, Wes instilled a belief in his workforce that Australians can truly compete on the international stage.

“I’ll always be the number one cheerleader for Riviera,” Wes said. Besides that, he has no future plans other than to recharge … and admire his model.

Riv-share

Ever wanted to own a Riviera, but thought it was maybe a little out of your reach, time-or dollar-wise?

Riviera Syndication could be what you’ve been waiting for …

A whileago Rivieral aunched something new – not a boat, but rather a way of experiencing Riviera boats and the luxury on-water lifestyle without having to pay the full sticker price, so to speak. We’re talking of Riviera Syndication, the company’s new shared ownership program.

According to CEO of Riviera Syndication, John Russell (left), the ownership program appeals to people who love boating, but don’t have the time to take advantage of full ownership.

New Riviera Sport Yachts based at Sanctuary Cove, Brisbane and Hamilton Island are on offer, along with shares in a Riviera 45 Open Flybridge that is already based at Hamilton Island.

As Russell explained, after nine years working in the boating syndication business, he last year partnered with Riviera to bring customers all the lifestyle benefits of owning a Riviera, without the usual hassles of berthing, maintenance and cleaning.

Russell says Riviera Syndication appeals both to experienced boaties and those relatively new to luxury boating. It provides each owner with a high level of training and support, giving them the confidence to get into a new Riviera, while also having a support crew at their disposal.

Riviera Syndication ownership starts at $58,500 for an equity share in a new Riviera 3600 Sport Yacht moored at Sanctuary Cove. Owners contribute $8500 per annum for an ongoing cleaning, maintenance and management program and have access to their boat for 33 days each year, plus standby days via an online booking system.

“We have a very social group of mainly business owners, who not only enjoy their boating with us, but also join in our overseas adventure holidays,” said Russell.

“Last year, 44 owners joined us for a month in Europe that included Dubai, a week in Valencia to watch the America’s Cup Sailing Regatta, a 12-day Mediterranean cruise, plus time in Italy. This year, we will take a group cruising the Mediterranean for a month, visiting the Greek Islands, Turkey and then onto Egypt. In 2009, we have planned a week aboard a luxurious six-star cruise ship around Tahiti.”

Russell used this year’s Sanctuary Cove show to launch a new Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht in the Riviera Syndication fleet.

“This beautiful boat, with Volvo IPS propulsion, will be based at Sanctuary Cove. We will also have syndicates on a Riviera 4700 Sport Yacht for Brisbane, Hamilton Island and Sanctuary Cove and we have the last shares available in our beautiful Riviera 45 Flybridge, that is permanently moored in the heart of the Whitsundays at Hamilton Island.”

Russell said Riviera Syndication franchise opportunities are now also available.

“We are looking for a select group of people to join us in this rapidly expanding sector of the marine industry to establish a strong network of Riviera Syndication franchises around Australia,” he said.

Russell said the program included establishing five franchises initially in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Hervey Bay, Port Stephens and Pittwater near Sydney.

For more information, go to: www.rivierasyndication.com.au.


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