The southern end of the outside marina arm at the Royal Motor Yacht Club in Newport is reserved for the big boys: the mega yachts, motoryachts and superyachts with three-phase power demands.
Unsurprisingly, it's here that we find Riviera's new flagship, the 70 Enclosed Flybridge, hooked up to shorepower with the reverse-cycle air-conditioning making life toasty aboard, coffee and cakes at the ready, a seafood repast in the fridge, engines warm and skipper at the ready.
The twin common rail 18250hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels, electronically optimised to maximise horsepower and reduce fuel burn, are idling smoothly and smoke free, barely sipping from the 10,000lt onboard diesel fuel supply when, up in the heavens, the skipper gives the nod.
We dance around the decks tracing the saloon, retrieve whopping great fenders the size of shipping buoys, cast the lines that almost resemble those from the Queen Mary, and make haste.
Such is the cushy ride that the coffee and cakes are served while we idle down Pittwater and range around Broken Bay in the enclosed flybridge. And it's from here that unfettered views unfurl in all directions, distant headlands and coastal ports call come hither, and we enjoy the ride. Taking cruising to new heights, the 70 is Riviera's magnum opus, its biggest work, and it made quite a splash when it was launched at this year's Sydney International Boat Show.
But while Riviera says this is the biggest production flybridge cruiser ever made in Australia, it's actually more than that.
Starting at $4.876 million and coming in at $5.45 million as tested, the 70 is closer to a semi-custom boat. Not too many R Marine dealers will keep one in stock and, being tailor made to order, owners can finally get the boat of their dreams that answers their long-held wishes and whims.
The 70 driven here was fitted with additional refrigeration, a different accommodation plan with twin adjoining forepeak cabins and a double bed in a mid cabin where there are usually singles, and an extra long-range fuel tank for the upgraded 1825hp C32 ACERT engines. But that's not to say the standard boat isn't loaded.
In standard guise, the Caterpillar C32s fitted to the Riveria 70 produce 1572hp per side for 30kts top end, there is a substantial 8000lt of fuel, and generous four-cabin layout. Things like 1000lt of water and a 284lt/h watermaker, twin Onan 22.5kW generators, and impressive inverter set-up are bundled with the boat.
Together, such things create a cruiser that answers the call of the serious long-range liveaboard buff as, indeed, does the engineering...
By official definition, 70-footers weigh in as superyachts in this country and, as such, buyers expect engineering that wows. So I make haste and head to the engineroom, accessed via a cockpit door, whereupon I soon gain headroom and note walkaround access to the big V12 Cats (1800hp MTUs are optional). The floor is sprayed in Awlgrip two-pack white paint, while a mirrored ceiling adds to the sense of space and helps you spot oil leaks.
The exhausts have underwater outlets, there are massive stainless steel sea strainers and emergency engine-driven bilge pump. But Riviera has stuck with time-proven suppliers for a lot of the good gear. Engineroom ventilation is courtesy of the Delta T fan-forced system, with fire-fighting flaps and remote fuel shutoffs that partly answer survey requirements, while the watermaker is from HRO, the twin generators from Onan and Cruisair takes care of air-con needs.
As far as onboard power generation is concerned, Riviera has it nailed by way of the twin 22.5kW generators hooked up to a Power Command system that automatically switches between either of the two units. There is a 5000W inverter with automatic switching, too, for running the AV systems, AC outlets, fridge/icemaker/freezers, engineroom lights and freshwater pump without needing to fire up the generator(s).
Meanwhile, as you would expect on a boat of this calibre, the 24V house-power supply allows for simpler charging, lower current draw and smaller cables (reduced weight) than equivalent 12V systems.
Batteries are maintenance-free AGMS, with separate engine-start banks and the usual emergency parallel function. With an individual 100amp 24V charger for the house batteries, a separate 50amp 24V charger for the start batteries and a standalone 12V battery and charger located on the flybridge for electronics, you have your banks covered.
Plumbing is similarly impressive. Twin hot-water services and a high-pressure 240V water pump mean a full complement can enjoy hot showers. And high-volume 500lt grey and black water tanks let you party without needing to pump out.
The gearboxes are 2.48:1 Twin Disc Quickshift types spinning 3.5in Duplex shafts through PSS dripless shaft seals to five-blade Veem props. Designed in conjunction with Riviera's favoured marine architect, Dutch-born Frank Mulder, the hull has prop tunnels reducing shaft angles to 11°. Draft is 1.70m, which means you can still sneak into skinny anchorages at high tide. Construction is solid glass below the waterline with composite decks and bulkheads.
Rudders are stainless steel, the steering hydraulic power-assisted, and the main 8000lt fuel is in a transverse tank amidships with zero effect on trim. The fuel delivery system is also a cut above that of your average Riviera.
A toolbox, vice and workbench complete the engineroom, while hydraulic thrusters and anchor winch, even a submersible boarding platform, are options worth thought.
As with all Riviera convertibles, you can fish, entertain and do a mix of both in the 70. In keeping with the former, the cockpit is angler friendly with toe kicks and thigh support gained from the moulded coamings, while the below-deck cleats and hawsepipes won't foul lines. There's a supplied mid-cockpit mounting plate fitted for a game chair or an additional lunch table, and the option of a 240V in-transom barbie as seen here or a central livebait tank. Underfloor there are fish or storage boxes with overboard drains, while a custom stainless steel fridge/freezer unit with drawers and the door to the engineroom were mounted mid-cockpit.
Then comes the major selling point: the mezzanine seating with optional table where, I must fess up, we were wined and dined during an al fresco lunch on the anchor. With elevation, hardwearing Alcantara upholstered lounges, and a high-gloss cherrywood table, you can entertain eight under the flybridge overhang. Even after trouncing around at sea, there was no salt spray or blowback courtesy of the dreaded station-wagon effect. Yep, this is a dry boat. Well, in one sense, anyway.
Moulded steps lead forward, around the saloon, to the foredeck where there were a 600kg davit and 3.8m tender riding on a cradle. The new dot-pattern non-skid is welcome, too.
Accessed via an internal ladder to port, the flybridge on the 70 is akin to a penthouse, perfect for entertaining at calm anchorages and on the run, when not serving as the captain's quarters or bedsit at night. Although there's no head, there is an L-shaped lounge for six that doubles as a bed, a flip-down flatscreen TV, and upper galley with counter, sink, drawer fridges, icemaker, and microwave.
Of course, the bridge is air-conditioned but there is also a rear awning or hopper window, side opening windows and an electric sunroof that changes the atmosphere from cocooned enclosed bridge to indoor/outdoor entertaining area. A useful amount of deck space extends outdoors, where there's a lounge and a second helm station for fishing or close quarters manoeuvring. Clear views of the transom.
Up front, there are triple Pompanette helm chairs before a full-width dash designed for a troika of the latest 19in 'glass' screens and lots more. The boat driven here had four Raymarine E120s, twin Cat engine-monitoring panels, Raymarine autopilot, wind gauge and depth screen, Icom VHF and HF radios, spotlight, QL trim tabs and thruster controller.
Amtico flooring adds to the utility, while satellite communications let you phone home.
An awning window brings the outdoors into the saloon, where deep side windows enhance views, and a large L-shaped lounge doubles as a daybed alongside the oversized coffee table. The soft furnishings were timeless but, perhaps, a little underdone for my tastes. But then such things are part of the customisation.
The lounge was upholstered in a bone-coloured Nubuck material, there was more practical Amtico underfoot, recessed Bose speakers, dual iPod docks, 40in LCD TV with Foxtel opposite the lounge, and cherrywood joinery with upmarket granite counters.
Now stop for a minute and consider the refrigeration in total: there's the custom cockpit unit, the eutectic under the mezzanine lounge, the twin drawer fridges in the bridge, twin more drawer units under the staircase to the bridge, four fridge drawers in the galley and twin freezer drawers. After fuel, water and power, refrigeration is the next most important thing. Loads of it here.
The dining setting opposite the galley has a cherrywood table, six matching chairs and feature lighting handpicked by the owners. The double doors nearby lead into the so-called white room, a utility space with wine fridge, separate washer/dryer, and attachments for the vacuuming system.
Miele was well represented in the galley by way of four-burner induction stove, combo oven/microwave/grill, built-in cappuccino machine, dishwasher, and more. The big granite counters assist with food-prep and serving a crowd, while the galley gourmand gets to enjoy views out the windows.
Seven stairs descending to the accommodation give you some idea of the 70's tremendous volume. The standard layout is four cabins all with bathrooms. But the so-called tournament accommodation on the test boat saw the usual VIP guest's forepeak cabin with island berth split into two cabins with bunks. As such, there was a double bed in one of the mid cabins, which ordinarily have twin single and Pullman berths.
The new bathrooms are a departure from the Riviera mould, literally, and eminently more upmarket than your average production craft.
Hopefully, Riviera introduces them down the line. You get marble vanities, porcelain tiles on the floor, Tecma heads, square porcelain sinks, trick showers and opening portlights.
But it's the stateroom that calls loudest, with king-sized bed traced by leather feature panels, bedside tables, walk-in robe, two-person settee and office/vanity. There are views out the windows, which don't open, while the shower in the en suite is gargantuan. Time to cast the lines.
Electric bow and sternthrusters shunt the 41,920kg silver 70 sideways like a crab, pushing back the morning westerly that was pinning us to the outer marina arm. Unshackled, unbridled, unconquerable, we range down Pittwater before heading out to the deep blue sea.
At theoretical hull speed of 10.7kts, averaging about 64lt/h in total, we have a cruising range of more than 1500nm. But it's not until you advance the throttles on the V12s that your world is transformed. Before you can say make mine white and one sugar, we are cruising at 30kts at 2100rpm, which is maximum continuous revs, and topping out at more than 33kts on the way home before the lopping swells.
I slide the window open alongside the helm seat to get a better sensation of speed. Whooosssh! My sunnies are now in Davey Jones' locker. It's then I realise the power. Big boat, boat engines, big systems, big tickets on going places. Think big.
As for consumption, no high-speed bluewater 70 can claim to be a café racer. The skipper tells me the boat was delivered from the Gold Coast to Sydney averaging 22kts into a similar strength southeast headwind (that's 40kts apparent) where the Cats drank about 150lt per side for a 6500lt consumption for the 385nm (as the crow flies) passage. The extra burn was, presumably, for turning the corners and dealing with the conditions.
According to my figures, 1695rpm gives 23kts comfortable cruise for 320lt/h. Based on 90 per cent of the optional long-range 10,000lt fuel supply on the test boat, cruising range is a comfortable 650nm in one hit. At 1852rpm and 26kts the engines consume 400lt at 62 per cent load for 585nm range.
The sweet spot is 2000rpm (65 per cent load) for 29kts, 440lt/h and a 600nm range. Maximum continuous of 30kts at 2100rpm (75 per cent load) saw consumption rise to 470lt for a range of 575nm. Which only goes to show there's not a lot of variance, and it's more a matter of how fast you want to go.
In the short window Trade-A-Boat had to test the new Riviera flagship, there was a lot to take in. Really, a 70-footer needs to be lived with for weeks to reveal its true colours. That said, even going nowhere much at all it's apparent that the big Australian boatbuilder has taken everything it has learnt over the years, observed the market closely and surveyed its overseas competitors to build the best 70-footer possible.
I can say with conviction that the 70 doesn't thump, it is dry, it's a step up in class for Riviera. And so damn intoxicatingly comfortable we could cruise with, get this, coffee and cake in hand. Now try doing that on a 40 or 50-footer. Who said money doesn't buy happiness?
- Riviera has studied the market assiduously, added its own know-how and developed a 70 with a boatload of tried and tested gear, and bound-to-be reliable systems
- A true flagship with world-class engineering and electrical systems
- Mulder hull really performs, with a good solid or heavy feel through the water
- Great range at hull speed and the ability to hightail it to far-away places when you put the pegs down
- Big cockpit and mezzanine seating is a winner
- Enclosed bridge with sunroof, awning window, air-con and galley creates another living area
- Improved finish indoors with upmarket marble and granite counters
- Better Tecma heads and all Miele appliances
- Full-beam stateroom will pamper and mollycoddle owners
- No backup DC water pump
- Onan generators and Cat engines mean separate service calls
- Stainless steel on outdoor fridge was showing signs of surface rust
- Fender baskets on a boat of this level look a tad naff
- Though buyers in this league aren't necessarily fuel conscious, they might be when they burn plenty at high speeds
- Factory rolled high-gloss cherrywood joinery is starting to look common
- No opening portlight for natural ventilation in the full-beam stateroom
|RIVIERA 70 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE|
|Price as tested: The Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge, hull No. 1, cost $5.45 million w/twin Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel engines, and options|
|Options fitted: Engine upgrade; long-range fuel tank; sternthruster; electric sunroof; Raymarine electronics and sat TV; davit and tender; queen bed in starboard guest stateroom; mezzanine dining deck; flybridge opening windows; transom BBQ; Amtico flooring to engine room; soft-furnishing, galley ware and bathroom packages, Bose entertainment, and more|
|Priced from: $4.876 million w/ twin Caterpillar C32 1572hp diesels|
|Material: GRP hull, and cored decks and hardtop|
|Type: Warped-plane monohull with half-prop tunnels and keel|
|Length overall: 23.34m|
|Hull length: 22.07m|
|Weight: 41,920kg dry w/ std motors|
|Berths: 11 + 1|
|Fuel: 10,000lt (8000lt std)|
|Water: 1000lt plus desalinator|
|Holding tanks: 500lt black water; 500lt grey water|
|Make/model: Twin Caterpillar C32 ACERT|
|Type: Fully electronic V12, common rail diesel with turbocharging and aftercooling|
|Rated HP: 1825 at 2300rpm|
|Weight: 2548kg (each)|
|Gearboxes (make/ratio): Twin Disc 2.48:1|
|Props: Veem five-blade|
The Riviera Group,
50 Waterway Drive,
Coomera, QLD, 4209
Phone: (07) 5501 0000