It has famously been said that the best navigators don’t quite know where they’re going until they arrive, and it’s the same for the creative journey that fosters new-age masterpieces like the Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht.
Starting with clear horizons and a rough map, both require an artisan blend of inspiration, innovation and perspiration to reach their destination. In Riv’s case, they at least had a rhumb line of past successes to avoid any farfetched fantasies.
There were also some significant new waypoints, like the world-first use of Volvo Penta’s new 600hp IPS800s with D8 powerplant and IPS15 pods. Though uncharted waters, the designers were able to tailor the hull envelope to suit the engine dimensions and output.
From initial discussions to first production boat, the design voyage lasted 12 months. Hundreds of working days were invested in the CAD stage, which delivered 3D prototype components to a router for precision moulding. Beyond that, full-scale mockups were built so Riviera skippers Rodney Longhurst and Wes Moxey could be fully immersed.
The two were hands-on every day, sometimes every hour, sitting, thinking, and starting afresh if things could be done better. Owners and dealers also gave input. Relentlessly, they pushed for another inch here, better space utilisation there, on a boat measuring 50ft x 15ft. All the while, there was the simmering tug of war between prettiness vs practicality. By way of example, a narrow void existed beneath the TV in the lower lounge – this eventually became a pair of hinged drawers for DVDs, necessitating two more precisely finished panels with quality fittings, but enhancing the liveability. The master cabin’s door sits flush with this section when open, as further evidence of a perfectionist mindset.
Elsewhere, there are dedicated lockers for clutter such as fenders and shore-power leads.
At the same time, the team strove to improve manufacturing systems to make the 4800 more efficient to build and consistent in quality. Components such as the sunroof, targa and anchor locker lids are shared with the 5400 SY, while new modular components, like the cockpit lounge and barbecue unit, are built off-line rather than in-situ.
ACCESS ALL AREAS
The modules can be removed just as easily for servicing. In fact, there are access panels in practically every locker to save turning a small job into a big one. Open the wardrobe, pull out a panel, and there’s an air-conditioning unit, for example.
When all was said and done, the 4800 emerged as a line-honours winner in every sense, as intellectual and functional as it is beautiful and balanced. While borrowing styling cues and concepts from its larger sisters, it arguably surpasses them in looks.
Pre-sales reflected this, exceeding just about every Riviera model released in the past 15 years with the exception, possibly, of the 5400. The demographic is mixed, too, ranging from sports-express owners moving up, to former flybridge devotees scaling down to a single level, but steadfastly refusing to sacrifice their big-boat comforts.
There are lots of 50ft berths around the country that can accommodate the 4800. Just. I’d probably park mine at Hammo for the winter then commute back and forth …
Departing Runaway Bay Marina with the flick of a cockpit-mounted joystick, the test boat quickly settled into the Gold Coast groove. It was a sultry 35°C outside, but all was cool and calm in the cabin.
In the IPS800 and IPS15 pod combination, the 4800 has found its soul mates. These are state-ofthe-art technologies in every respect, so quiet and sophisticated. Volvo has worked hard on reducing noise, while Riviera has bolstered its engine-room insulation.
There was more ‘sport’ than yacht when it came to acceleration, leaping out of the hole with torque aplenty. Riviera isn’t one to go chasing big top-end speeds – 34 knots (63km/h) is achieved at 3025rpm, but it’s more about comfortable ocean cruising.
That said, performance data suggests that optimum fuel efficiencies are achieved in the upper echelons of the rev range.
Offshore, in a half-metre chop, we ran at 25 knots (46km/h) down-breeze, drinking 168lt/h (about 6lt/nm). Noise levels hovered around 88 decibels, the same as an average car. It seemed even quieter, and miles simply melted in the wake.
Under-sole sections are foam-filled where possible, cushioning the slap, and such is the fitout integrity there are no creaks or squeaks, no doors rattling or cushions flying.
Volvo Trim Assist takes the necessity – and, in some cases, guess-essity – out of adjusting the trim tabs for the willing, yet well-mannered hull, which offers a fine entry, partial keel and downturned chines. From the comfort of an electric-adjustable Recaro helm seat, the driver can just enjoy the light and positive feel at the wheel.
Earlier, as wind and tide raged on the Gold Coast Seaway, we were reduced to 14 knots (26km/h). Several sheets of spray thoroughly doused the windscreen, but were efficiently banished by the wipers, switches for which are placed behind the throttles. That was the only breach we saw.
With the Garmin-based Glass Cockpit, there’s now a separate screen for engine monitoring. On the larger screens you can scroll through to autopilot, then make fine adjustments with plus/ minus buttons or the wheel. Garmin charts also come with auto guidance so you can pre-program a voyage and the boat will stay within marked channels.
CZone was introduced by Riviera some 10 years ago, but continues to impress, with fewer modules now to further enhance the reliability. You can come aboard and hit entertaining mode – it will turn on everything you need to entertain. Punch in ‘cruising’ and it will power up the ignition and navigation items. At day’s end you hit ’dock unattended’ and it will keep the essentials on and shut everything else off – courtesy strip lighting stays on for a further 10 minutes.
Speaking of lights, the cockpit awning has full-spectrum LEDs that not only change colour, but sync with the underwater lights for that top-and-tails look.
By day, the sun does a sterling job of bathing the interior. From the companionway, you’re lured in by a circumambient view, then welcomed with the warmth of satin walnut trim (gloss is optional). The lounge, flooring and Corian benches are rendered in neutral colours to amplify the sense of light.
Notably, the helm station is to port, though it hardly feels like a left-hand-drive vehicle. The placement was necessitated by having the longitudinal galley aft and to port, freeing up the starboard space for a long, five-seat dinette.
The galley sports Isotherm drawer fridge and freezer, dishwasher, twin sink and convection microwave. The stove has only two rings, suggesting that barbecues or microwave meals will be more common. There’s another drinks fridge opposite, while the wetbar has a fridge and icemaker … plus the cockpit seats are insulated for ice. Queenslanders are thirsty.
After a few beverages, there are just four steps to reach the lower atrium. An L-shaped lounge is to starboard – a feature that was more popular on the former 5000 SY than a third cabin. The seats have strapping beneath so you sink in like a proper lounge, and the back cushions are retained by magnets. Toss them off and you have a berth for sleepovers.
The day head is opposite and, cleverly, houses the laundry behind walnut doors.
While there’s insufficient space for a full-beam master cabin, the aft guest cabin adequately compensates. It has three single beds, two running athwartships – these become a double by virtue of an electric sliding track.
The master cabin fills the vee with an island bed and en suite, again enjoying exceptional headroom and views. It remains quiet at anchor thanks to the underfloor foam. Overhead, on the foredeck, is a sunpad with banana-chair backrests and its own bimini. Access is via wide walk-around decks with moulded toe rails for safety.
There’s no need to park the dinghy here because that’s catered for by a tender garage in the stern. It swallows a 2.7m RIB with the help of a hydraulic boarding platform, guide rails and Muir winch. You can stand under the garage lid, or close it to use the barbecue.
The engine room has three access points – amidships and over both drives. Though compact, it’s executed with the expertise of a world-class builder. An 11kVA genset sits on the centreline, as does the single 2100lt fuel tank.
Range from this tank is around 300nm (555km). Far enough, presumably, for the majority of sportyacht owners, who tend to be coast-hoppers and port-potterers.
Riviera is now pulling out all stops to meet the demand, which is a nice problem to have. It’s expected that about 55 per cent of production will be exported.
There is no fluke in any of this – the navigators have set the right course. The 4800 hits the sweet spot size-wise, displacing the 4400 to slot between the 3600 and 5400. It doesn’t feel big on the outside so it’s manageable, yet it’s spacious on the inside. It’s equally at home as a family boat for a couple and three kids, or as a weekender for empty-nesters and friends.
They’ve put more into the 4800 so that owners can get more out of it.
RIVIERA 4800 SPORT YACHT
Dry weight: 19,055kg (approx)
Fuel capacity: 2100lt
Water capacity: 400lt
Power: 2 x Volvo Penta D8-IPS800 (441kW)
Price from: $1,134,300
Price as tested: $1,332,752
More information: Riviera Australia, tel: (07) 5502 5555. Web: RivieraAustralia.com.