That Spe­cial Some­thing

RIVA CON­TIN­UES ITS QUEST TO TURN HEADS ON THE WA­TER WITH THE 56 RI­VALE. BY ALAN HARPER

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - Fer­retti Group Amer­ica, 305-633-9761; fer­ret­ti­groupamer­ica.com

Riva taps into what makes its ex­quis­ite, clas­sic of­fer­ings unique with the new Ri­vale.

LLast fall Riva fol­lowed the un­veil­ing of its beau­ti­ful Ri­va­mare, the talk of the 2016 Cannes boat show, with the equally beau­ti­ful Ri­vale. As an­other al­lur­ing ex­am­ple of the ship­yard’s clas­sic, open-boat styling, this lat­est model from the leg­endary boat­builder is no over­grown run­about, but a sub­stan­tial craft that launches into the highly charged sec­tor of sub-60-foot sport yachts. Although in length, beam, and horse­power, none of its ob­vi­ous ri­vals can be set up as an ex­act match, there are plenty of valid com­par­isons to be made.

In re­sponse to that, of course, the many Riva afi­ciona­dos who fondly re­mem­ber the brand’s il­lus­tri­ous her­itage as a style icon of the dolce

vita era will mur­mur with a con­de­scend­ing smile that Riva doesn’t have any ob­vi­ous ri­vals. It is a mar­que apart, each boat a val­i­da­tion of its owner’s taste and dis­cern­ment.

To a re­mark­able ex­tent, more than 20 years af­ter the last ma­hogany Riva was launched (ma­hogany-faced ply­wood, in fact), this is still ac­tu­ally true. A mod­ern Riva might be made of fiber­glass, with stan­dard naval ar­chi­tec­ture, fit­ted with the same in­ter­nal com­po­nents you find on other boats, and pow­ered by en­gines that bear the badges of Ger­man and Swedish com­pa­nies, but the boats nev­er­the­less still have an aura about them.

It is there in the de­tail­ing, in the be­spoke stain­less steel deck fit­tings and in the hand-stitched leather trim. It is there es­pe­cially in the many coats of var­nish that bring the wood­grain up to a mir­ror sheen, and in the hull’s lus­trous paint job. Above all it is there in the look. All boats these days are de­signed from the in­side out, be­cause as cus­tomers we de­mand full-size beds, sen­si­ble head­room, big fridges, air­con­di­tion­ing, and all the other lux­u­ries. Ri­vas are no dif­fer­ent in this re­spect; how­ever taste­ful and dis­cern­ing you might be, on­board com­fort is not ne­go­tiable. But while it does de­sign from the in­side out, more than other pro­duc­tion boat­yards, Riva thinks from the out­side in. Few mod­ern pro­duc­tion boat­builders place a higher pre­mium on the look. A three-cabin boat, or two-plus-crew in stan­dard form, the Ri­vale’s curved wind­screen and open styling, un­com­pro­mised by any hard­top, harkens back to the mar­que’s in­flu­en­tial early de­signs—although there is a very good bi­mini that un­folds elec­tri­cally to shade the helm and for­ward seat­ing, and an­other over the fore­deck, if you tick that box on the op­tions list.

The open look is de­cep­tive, of course. This is a sub­stan­tial ves­sel nearly 16 feet in the beam, and the mid­ships mas­ter cabin makes full use of it with a dou­ble berth mounted athwartships and a spa­cious head and shower on the port side, both served by spec­tac­u­lar hull win­dows set into those sculpted top­sides. The VIP suite feels less gen­er­ous, but it still has the 6-foot 6-inch head­room and you shouldn’t get any com­plaints about the size of the bed. There is also en suite ac­cess to a roomy head with sep­a­rate shower—this be­ing a well-equipped yacht with a sep­a­rate day­head, handily placed amid­ships on the star­board side, con­ve­nient for the lower salon and its small gal­ley area.

The port guest cabin we found on our test boat, which was the third off the pro­duc­tion line, is an op­tion: The Ri­vale’s stan­dard lay­out sees this space oc­cu­pied by a crew cabin, ac­cessed down through the cock­pit seat­ing. In ei­ther in­car­na­tion, it’s a very small space. It may

have 6 feet 6 inches of head­room and two 6-foot 3-inch bunk berths, but they’re only 23 inches wide and the floor area is so min­i­mal that turn­ing around re­quires a bit of plan­ning. In this re­spect the Ri­vale is no worse than many ri­val boats of this style and size. The cabin is sur­pris­ingly well off for stowage, how­ever, with four good draw­ers and a rea­son­able hang­ing locker, and many own­ers will prob­a­bly find that they’re us­ing it not as a cabin, but as a large and use­ful up­hol­stered cup­board.

It is ob­vi­ously right that this ves­ti­gial sleep­ing wardrobe for your least com­plain­ing guests is only sug­gested as an op­tion, but in­stead of of­fer­ing a crew cabin in its place, it might make more sense to many own­ers if the ship­yard fit­ted out this space as a be­spoke stowage com­part­ment.

It is al­ways a priv­i­lege to take a Riva through such a crowded and crit­i­cal arena as the Cannes boat show, and be re­minded of the pow­er­ful ef­fect a beau­ti­ful boat can have on those who ap­pre­ci­ate such things. Peo­ple look up. Heads turn. It’s a bit like be­ing a hyp­no­tist.

Out at sea this al­lur­ing ma­chine proved to have per­for­mance and poise to match its looks. With the larger of the two avail­able en­gine op­tions, twin 1,200-horse­power MAN V-8s, it was hardly go­ing to feel short of power, although the en­gines them­selves, squeezed into a mod­est com­part­ment be­neath the ten­der well and driv­ing tra­di­tional shafts through V-drive trans­mis­sions, might be a lit­tle short of legroom. Will­ing in ac­cel­er­a­tion and re­spon­sive to the helm, the Ri­vale was a plea­sure to drive, achiev­ing a top speed of over 37 knots with­out ap­par­ent ef­fort.

A mod­er­ate tran­som dead­rise of 17.8 de­grees is car­ried well for­ward and pro­vides a gen­er­ous lift­ing sur­face, the down­side of that be­ing a pretty hard ride while pow­er­ing into a chop. Ours was a balmy day with a light breeze and no seas to speak of, but it was easy to cre­ate firm im­pacts across our own wake. The tall wind­screen of­fers ex­cel­lent pro­tec­tion from the breeze, but with its dis­tor­tions in the curved cor­ners and dark tint, it’s not great to look through, and for this 6-foot helms­man at least, nei­ther is it easy to see over.

But these seem like triv­ial points to make about a boat this stun­ning. Ac­tu­ally be­ing aboard and then driv­ing the Ri­vale will only heighten your en­joy­ment. Com­ing back into the crowded Vieux Port at Cannes af­ter a thor­oughly ex­hil­a­rat­ing sea trial, greeted by the ac­cus­tomed covert glances and frankly ad­mir­ing stares, I half­ex­pected a rip­ple of ap­pre­cia­tive ap­plause.

Riva has still got it, what­ever it is—that in­de­fin­able, un­de­ni­able aura of be­ing spe­cial. In this, at least, the Ri­vale has no ri­val.

The salon makes full use of the 56’s nearly 16-foot beam and the styling is clas­sic Riva.

A top speed of 37-plus knots is only part of the per­for­mance equa­tion for the Riva Ri­vale 56. Han­dling helps set this boat apart.

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