Riviera has been building boats for 35 years and has given us some outstanding models across the almost 5100 boats it has launched. With 15 models, and growing, from four style ranges, plus two models under the Belize brand, the Gold Coast cruiser manufacturer has the market well and truly covered.
However, in my opinion, the new 77 Enclosed Flybridge is the best yet. It is the pièce de résistance of all Rivieras that have gone before and establishes a new benchmark for the company in terms of quality of finish and appointments.
The Frank Mulder-designed Riviera 77 is actually an evolution of the Riviera 70 from 2008, which grew into the Riviera 72, then 75 and now the 77.
All those length changes have been made in the cockpit, where more working space has been offered and the hull extended accordingly. The superstructure has remained unchanged.
The extra length is more than just an extension of the deck past the transom, with the running surface also extended. Now around 2m longer on the aft running surface, the differences have translated into a better-balanced boat with improved fuel economy and handling.
The big cruiser’s stylish lines create a stunning visual impact. From the dramatic split-level window treatment in the hull sides to the bold profile of the superstructure and the massive fighting tower, this latest boat is definitely dressed to impress.
Skipper Curt Goldring showed just how easy this 25m, 54,500kg shaft-drive boat is to manoeuver at the Runaway Bay Marina. Using the Twin Disc EJS (Express Joystick System), integrated with the quick shift gearboxes linked into hydraulic bow and stern thrusters, he was able to spin the boat in its length and gently bring it alongside the jetty. The low-profile cockpit coaming meant it was effortless to climb aboard.
Our test day was greeted by moderate seas off the Gold Coast, with a strong swell and a gentle breeze just enough to lift the odd cap off the waves. Cruising down the Broadwater, with twin 1800hp MAN V12s working at around 1800rpm for a speed of 22.5 knots (42km/h), I was very impressed with the quietness aboard the boat, especially in the flybridge and lower saloon.
Once we headed through the seaway and out into open water, and with the throttle hard open at 2358rpm and 32.4 knots (60km/h), the noise levels were still noticeably low, with just the whistle of the turbos breaking the silence.
In the short sea state, the 77 settled into a nice, comfortable cruise around 1950rpm at 25 knots (46km/h) and, regardless of speed, the handling and ride were unaffected.
Actually, anyone planning passage making on this boat would have enough range from the 9450lt payload to cross the Tasman at around 10 knots (18.5km/h) or travel up the coast to Darwin or across to Noumea.
Range is, no doubt, helped by a very ‘slippery’ hull, with the transition onto the plane hardly noticeable. The 3600hp on hand pushes the 54,500 kg hull up into cruise mode very quickly and without any fuss.
From an engineering standpoint, the Riviera 77 is exemplary. Lots of effort has been put into making the boat quieter, with closed-cell foam between the bulkheads, while cutting-edge C-Zone electronic control has allowed the large circuit breaker board to be replaced with an iPad. Everything onboard the boat, including plumbing, electrical, lighting, tankage levels, alarm and engine and fuel management is accessible from an iPad. Being fly-by-wire, the use of cabling throughout the boat is also greatly reduced.
When I stepped aboard I couldn’t help but be impressed by the quality of workmanship. From the leather inlays to the satin walnut timbers, the veneer-wrapped alloy door frames and the leather furnishings, Riviera has certainly upped the ante in terms of production boat quality and presentation.
The open-plan saloon/galley layout is very contemporary and clean, with the lounging/ dining area all on one level. The saloon is split into two dedicated spaces, with the galley aft and lounge dining area forward. The lounging and entertainment area has a 10-seater U-shaped dinette, with hi/low table, a couple of free-standing chairs, an entertainment cabinet, electric hi/low 60in TV, plus bottle and glass storage and a refrigeration section complete with wine cooler.
Galley gourmets will be happy with the abundance of Corian bench space, four-element induction cooktop, combo oven/microwave, plenty of drawers, dishwasher and a huge amount of fridge and freezer space. Placed port aft, it opens to the alfresco mezzanine area via a rear window. With the rear saloon door open at the same time, there is great flow through of the inside/outside living spaces.
Incorporated into the saloon and galley are four fridges and two freezers, but this can still be customised further. In our boat, there were many more in the cockpit and flybridge areas, catering for everything from drinks and ice to fish and bait storage.
Access to the flybridge is via an internal staircase opposite the galley. Upstairs, there’s a wetbar and lounger on the starboard side, with an L-shaped lounge with a hi/low table opposite. Even though this boat has a game tower, it was still possible to retain the huge opening sunroof.
The test boat was fitted with a pair of Pompanette Platinum seats facing a massive console with a comprehensive array of electronic engine instrumentation and vessel controls. These included a trio of Raymarine gS 16.5in MFDs, RS130 GPS, a 4kW 72nm HD radar scanner, and p70R/ACU-300 solenoid autopilot system.
A stainless steel rear bulkhead incorporates a hinged door and awning-style window that leads onto the aft deck. Here you’ll find an aft docking station, another small lounge, table, some more refrigeration and access to the tower. With a side-mounted access ladder, the crew can also go all the way from the engine room to the upper deck and tower, without having to step inside the boat.
The tower is a custom design built by Riviera’s in-house stainless steel fabricator.
Serious additional fishing hardware includes electric teaser reels in the hardtop, custom 24V deep-water downriggers and Rupp hydraulic outriggers with triple-headers.
The cockpit is split into two levels, with a mezzanine dining area directly behind the galley, plus a wetbar opposite.
Drop down three steps and you are into the real business end of the vessel. Centre stage is a custom-made fighting chair, with a quartet of tuna tubes in the transom. The cockpit includes a couple of massive fish lockers in the sole, one complete with an ice chipper, plus there are the customary livebait tanks, tackle storage and bait/ lure prep areas.
QUARTET OF CABINS
Riviera offers either a four- or five-cabin layout, with a variety of berth configurations. The test craft had a four-cabin layout, with a single VIP cabin forward with twin midship cabins, one with three single bunks, the other with a queen-size double, plus an aft master.
The port-side cabin’s en suite also doubles as the day head, with both the other two VIP cabins and the master all having their own en suite. All are decked out in a very contemporary design, with marble bench surfaces, raised porcelain bowls and large walk-in showers.
The master stateroom has a king-size berth in the centre with bedside tables either side. Storage throughout is plentiful with ‘his and hers’ walk-in wardrobes with cedar linings, plus large recessed drawers under the berth.
To starboard is a writing bureau, while forward is the spacious en suite with twin vanity bowls and extra-large shower boasting Grohe quality bathroom fittings.
The expansive half hull-length windows not only provide plenty of natural light but also provide a wide-angle view of what’s happening outside. They combine great looks with good functionality.
All cabins are individually air-conditioned by way of a trio of condenser units, so temperatures can be adjusted to suit.
Other neat items include USB ports and HDMI inputs in each cabin. Electric blinds are also standard.
The Riviera 77 Enclosed Flybridge is a genuine and practical boat that is designed as a thoroughbred seagoing vessel. Once again, Riviera has brought together the Australasian style of combining indoor/outdoor living so beautifully well in a hardtop design. While unquestionably a boat that has the smarts to make it a favourite of the cruising set, it’s also well placed to be a popular boat amongst game fishers.
RIVIERA 77 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE
Length overall: 24.74m
Displacement (dry): 52,200kg
Sleeping capacity: 8 persons
Fuel capacity: 9450lt
Water capacity: 1000lt
Engines: 2 x MAN 1800hp V12
Price as tested: $6,265,000
For more information, go to: rivieraaustralia.com.au.