The SHAPE of SEDUCTION
Widely-considered one of the sexiest boats of all time, a Riva Aquarama is a feast for the senses – exotic, alluring, sensual. But it’s also very rare. So what can an enthusiast do to fill the void in his heart? Build one from scratch of course.
rigitte Bardot had one. So did Sophia Loren. As did Richard Burton, B Peter Sellers, Prince Rainier and Aristotle Onassis. In fact, the gleaming mahogany vessels with their distinctive, flared bows, tumblehome hulls and unfettered V8 power became an icon for the planet’s glamour set in the 1960s and 70s. To be taken seriously on the Italian Riviera, you needed a really cool pair of sunnies – and a Riva. Here on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, where things are a little less sunny and a tad cheaper, a Riva won’t necessarily underscore your status, but it will certainly turn heads. For the owner of this boat though, reflected status is not the driver for the project. He’s passionate about classic timber boats and has a particular appreciation for the magic that is a Riva Aquarama. She’s the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream.
The Aquarama was one of the marque’s most famous models – distinctive for its seating arrangement, twin V8 powerplants, sunbed loungers over the engine bay – and the cutaway on the stern deck to aid boarding from the quay. Though this one isn’t a precise replica, it’s pretty close. And, as I discovered, building an accurate replica of a global icon is a lot more complicated than you might imagine.
In the main, two craftsmen are responsible for her construction in an Auckland warehouse: Mark Robinson – boatbuilder, cabinet maker and specialist in custom furniture, and Steve Cranch, also a boatbuilder but, in this case, the engineering guru responsible for designing and creating the boat’s drive trains, period fittings and systems.
With this build, both are in familiar territory: Robinson has a lengthy track record in