As expected Boatpoint is the first to publish a Full and detailed Test & Review of the much hyped Riviera 50.
You can read the original here http://www.boatpoint.com.au/reviews/2013/flybridge/riviera/50-enclosed-flybridge/riviera-50-enclosed-flybridge-first-test-39332
Here is a copy of that Test and the photos included. Interestingly I believe that this test confirms a lot of the questions that I raised in previous posts prior to the launch of the First 50 Here and Here.
Also it seems that David Lockwood’s comments may also give some weight to the belief that Riviera, again despite their own hype, still need to build a few boats till they get it right, as you can read Here.
A big new 50 is born after hitherto new levels of design input and extensive customer feedback
LIKES – Deep level of thinking and considered design – Great fit and finish, attention to detail – Worldly interior with more export appeal – Three very comfortable cabins – Large indoor/outdoor living spaces – Loads of utility and great styling
NOT SO MUCH – Small engines save capital but 650-700hp a better fit – Some would-be buyers demand a full-beam stateroom – Dash brow needs to be lower to improve vision – Needs an extra handrail at the start of sidedecks around cabin
OVERVIEW – A very significant boat We have followed the in-depth design process of Riviera’s new 50 Enclosed Flybridge since the boat was designated a 49 on the drawing board early last year. The new-generation Riviera is a significant for several reasons, not least because it’s the first new model to be launched after Rodney Longhurst bought the iconic Australian boat builder in March 2012 and it promptly exited receivership.
One of the first things Longhurst did was return his friend, previous Riviera CEO and learned boat builder Wes Moxey to his former role. Moxey had worked for Riviera for 26 years and had just created a new brand called Belize using a virtual boatbuilding model and a yard based in Taiwan.
We mention this because Riviera now owns that Belize. That brand’s interior designer, Italian-born Giorgia Drudi, has helped craft the Riviera 50’s interior. It’s more European, exportable and worldly than you’ll find on Rivieras of yore.
Meantime, some effort has also gone into reducing the visible bulk of the flying bridge and the 50 is a striking, well-proportioned, pretty boat. Yet it’s also a b-i-g 50, with Australian-sized cockpit, sprawling living spaces, and three seriously comfortable cabins with the seaworthy lines bolstered by high freeboard forward.
After a long gestation period stretching more than a year, the new 50 must surely be Riviera’s most considered new boat ever. Rather than whip-out a new model and attend to the details in the market place, as has been standard practice, Longhurst told us he wanted to get his boat right from the start. And at 6ft 3in (1.875m) tall, he makes a good walk-through model, we reckon. Hence the high head and shoulder room throughout the 50.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT – Brimming options list lets you create your own special boat Our Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge was a demonstrator packed plenty of options to showcase the possibilities. From a base price of $1.435 million, the as-tested sticker was $1.619 million. This is with the base engines, a pair of 600hp Cummins QSC8.3s with Zeus pod drives, three joysticks and a Skyhook (station-holding) system.
They are modest engines for a boat of this size, giving 27 knots top speed, and fitted “for price point reasons,” we were initially told.
“Our 51s, which we don’t build anymore [but for the odd special order], were getting up to $1.8 million boats. We have this 50 coming in at $1.6 million as a replacement and it’s a very, very big 50,” Moxey told BoatPoint and boatsales.
As it was, the demonstrator had some key options to enhance your time aboard, the boat’s liveability and entertaining prowess. These included air conditioning, a sunroof, upgraded Pompanette Platinum helm chairs, and aft docking station (helm is forward) in the flying bridge.
The cockpit had second aft docking station (essentially a joystick), an icemaker, rod holders, rocket launcher and teak decks. But the standout item was the upgraded transom amenities centre with double barbecue featuring grill (dinner) and separate hotplate (breakfast). There was a 350kg Davco davit (awaiting tender) on the bow.
A clever option is the saloon lounge upgrade, where the starboard settee has a slide-out ottoman and fold-out table to create a breakfast setting, somewhere for cards or kids, an office work area and occasional table. Appliance upgrades included dishwasher, washer/dryer, plus underwater lights and provision for must-have watermaker.
The interior boasted soft-furnishing upgrades, leather, solid-surface galley and bathroom counters, bathware and more. The hull was painted in Mercedes Tenoritgrau (silver grey). The boat had three cameras covering cockpit, saloon and engine room, and there was an extensive Raymarine electronics suite including two 15in screens.
Clearly, Riviera offers a lot of kit so buyers can build their ‘own’ virtually bespoke boat, as flexibility is a must in today’s new-boat market. Not everyone does things the same, but you will find that Riviera is accommodating. That said, the 50 has some standard design features that create a great foundation of what is a very user-friendly boat.
OUTDOOR AREAS – Enhanced outdoor living space, extended deck, bigger amenities centre, inbuilt seating and vastly increased storage The outdoor spaces on the 50 cater for our way of boating, with a big beamy cockpit that’s desirably low to the water and, thus, well connected. Despite pod drives — the engines are forward and connected to jack shafts — there’s a decent amount of subfloor ‘lazarette’ storage in a larger central bin that can take a loose teak table and chairs. That’s important, as we’ll explain soon.
Storage also includes a side ‘fish’ bin with Gulpa pumps and side cockpit lockers with toe kicks, so you can lean outboard when fishing. There are new integrated Shorepower connections for one 32A or one 15A lead.
Although there are live-bait tank options instead of the central Kenyon barbecue centre, and while you can delete the swim platform and add outriggers, even a fighting chair, Riviera buyers are pleasure boaters foremost, often seasoned and brand loyal, and they prefer to cruise and kickback.
To this end, Riviera has done a sterling job of creating a cockpit living centre where you can pursue a vast array outdoor activities, entertain during raft-ups and relax in comfort. The new twin swing-out transom doors combine with (screw-out) rails along the swim platform to extend the cockpit space around the ‘island’ transom. Families with kids and dogs will love it.
Between anchorages, you can just haul in the watertoys, SUP and kayak and chuck it on the swim platform knowing the rails will prevent it all tumbling back overboard. We’d consider fitting a removable bait-cutting board with rod holders to one of the rails to create a veritable fishing pier, too.
The island amenities centre had the double barbecues plus a moulded 24V insulated top-loading fridge/freezer right where you want it. There is an additional second top-loading fridge/freezer in the conventional location back against the cabin bulkhead, and an optional icemaker opposite.
The moulded lids of all the fridges make comfortable impromptu seats, as they have always done, and the extra elevation of those against the saloon bulkhead lets them double as fish-spotting perches. However, instead of creating mezzanine seating, as with other sister ships, Riviera went for a portside inbuilt lounge under the awning that puts your feet on deck.
With those aforesaid loose table and chairs you can create a highly desirable lunch setting while having minimal impact on floor space, traffic thoroughfare and the expansive deck for those watersports and leisure activities. The addition of an extended Euro-style awning would be welcome on those blistering-hot summer days.
Details like an outdoor GPO, drink holders, LED lights and new more accessible location for the main battery breakers, in an overhead hatch, didn’t go unnoticed. No need to open the engine-room door to fit your keys and start the engines, though Riv’ actively encourages pre-start engine checks. Small clear side curtains add to the weather protection under the awning, too.
Recessed walk-around decks soon step up to conventional side decks, but there’s a transition before the bow rail that lacks any handrail support. It’s not a big issue, but one that needs addressing as it stood out during this writer’s neighbour’s tour of the boat. Riviera said it is onto it.
Engine vents are inboard and Marine Air Flow devised the ventilation system, with positive (24V fan) forced-air supply, passive extraction and two-stage mist eliminators. Such things are a point of difference to, say, the old Riviera 47s. Think long engine and engineering life.
The foredeck has an offset tender cradle so the escape hatch remains unhindered, there was a Davco 350kg davit, Muir windlass with concealed hand remote in place of visible foot controls, self-stow stainless-steel UltraAnchor and 70 metres of chain, plus fresh- and saltwater taps.
Looking back, the 50 has a pleasingly rakish lines enhanced by the curved-glass front window panes. It’s a sharper, cleaner look, with the flying bridge super structure visibly reduced thanks to black mullions.
INDOOR LIVING – Ticks more boxes with aft galley, enclosed bridge and abundant seating The rear-opening awning window and aft galley tick more boxes, not to mention those of the galleying gourmand catering forward or back aft of the U-shaped space traced with Corian counters. It’s packed with drawers for plates, pots, appliances, plus there are overhead cupboards and more storage opposite in the beautifully crafted wet-bar cabinet.
Between the galley and wet bar were four Vitrifrigo fridge drawers and one freezer drawer that, along with the two top-loading fridge/freezer units and icemaker in the cockpit — and yet another drawer fridge in the bridge — provide true liveaboard cruising refrigeration. Cheers.
The two-burner electric cooktop is perhaps a bit underdone, but there’s a combi microwave oven, upgraded drawer dishwasher and the wet bar with bottle and glass locker opposite. Nearby was the C-Zone digital switching and air-con controls, oh, and plenty of GPOs to run multiple appliances.
Riviera has gone the extra distance and lined the stair post with timber to really create an upmarket feel in the saloon. The open-grain satin oak joinery (cherry is an option, as is gloss finish) and rounded edges add to the sense of class and smart modern finish.
Of course, the internal stairs make for a safe transition to the flybridge, where there are abundant guest lounges and his and her helm seats that are height adjustable. With three-sided clears, plenty of natural ventilation and air-con, it’s comfortable travelling up top.
The portside helm dash was a tad too high, but the auto-like stitched vinyl brow will be lowered in future, we’re told. Controls included a Precision (auto)Pilot, Cummins engine-monitoring Vesselview, twin Raymarine 15in hybrid touch screens, C-Zone tank monitors, Muir windlass with chain counter, Zeus joystick and electronic shifts. You also get a separate stereo and wipers with freshwater washes and intermittent setting.
The aft-facing seats alongside the helm are a nice place to sit and chat to the skipper, while the big L-shaped aft lounge features a second dinette and, we’d insist, a convertible double-bed option. The amenities centre has been reduced in size, but you get that drawer fridge, a small sink with hot/cold water and garbo.
The moulded GRP table might look more befitting if it were teak and the open section under the lounges puts stored items on show. Perhaps the old-fashioned moulded lounge bases are a neater approach to storage. But it’s a lovely big bridge all the same, with oodles of communal cruising room in what, to the eye, presents as a sleek top storey offer unfettered views of the road ahead and wake astern.
Back in the saloon, you step up from the galley and staircase landing to the forward living area. The saloon proper has a nice big dinette to port for six or even eight, which converts to a coffee table. More great views extend out the surrounding glass. The three-person settee opposite featured the clever optional impromptu pop-up table, which creates a breakfast/office/kid’s desk. It’s a design highlight.
There’s a large 40in flat-screen television and Bose AV system for when the sun sets. The master stateroom has a 26in LED TV integrated into the home theatre system, while a supplied 2.5kW inverter operates the entertainment system, one galley GPO and the icemaker when not on Shorepower. Or running the silent 13.5kW Onan generator.
ACCOMMODATION – Three great cabins, two big bathrooms and no compromises While a lot is made of full-beam staterooms in pod-driven boats, Riviera has made a conscious decision to offer three very comfortable cabins instead of one opulent master aft at the expense of the others.
The lack of a full-beam stateroom might come at a cost — the yard might offer it later — as the competing Maritimo M50 is built around that very thing. But that’s not to say this isn’t a comfortable owners’ boat and it will cater beautifully to an extended family.
Although the layout option is to have the master forward in the bow, the 50 Enclosed Flybridge demonstrator had what’s destined to be the more popular layout. The portside stateroom has an island double bed and en suite, the starboard cabin (alongside and also aft) has twin adult-length single beds (and TV with Xbox), while the VIP in the bow sports an island Queen and door to the second communal/ensuite bathroom.
All three cabins enjoy substantial hull windows and opening portlights and/or hatches for natural ventilation, while the beds, storage and floor space are mindfully liveable. In fact, the cabins remind us of those we come across on 60 footers from highbrow European yards. Wide companionways are kept that way by things like recessed opening doors.
The 50 also had a washer/dryer in the third cabin and a dedicated linen press, cedar-lined hanging lockers, mirrors, magnetic door catches, and big ensuites with Longhurst-sized showers, quiet extractor fans, natural ventilation, good room around the heads and, you should note, excellent floor drain and plumbing systems.
Such is the attention to detail and the overall effect is that of a truly luxurious 50-footer that will cut it at any boat show anywhere in the world. Meantime, with a convertible dinette, the boat can sleep eight very comfortably. Add the watermaker and you’re autonomous. Plus a tender and you’re away.
HULL AND ENGINEERING – A bit borrowed from Belize Built in Australia for local waterways, Riviera teams utility with cachet in a modest way. You don’t hear of any breaking and, if there is a service issue as happens with boats, the dealer network will take your call and help you on your way. Even on a public holiday.
The latest Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge builds on this tradition, while breaking altogether new ground for the Coomera-based business. The moulds were created at the Kha Shing boat yard in Taiwan, while a full-sized mock-up of the boat’s interior was built at the local factory. This way, Riviera could walk would-be customers through the boat and garner their feedback before finally shaping it.
To help keep the mould’s integrity, this Riviera 50 hull number one was actually laid-up in the Kha Shing and left it situ in the mould when it was shipped over. By the time the boat was fully fitted out it was some 600kg overweight. All future hulls will be made here to tight laminate schedules, with solid GRP out to and including the chines, cored decks and topsides.
A slightly shorter and taller version of the Belize 52, and with greater displacement, the Riviera 50 has a very similar running surface, we’re told. There’s a small solid GRP keel to assist directional stability and assist docking, that also reduces the boat’s drift rate and, a point not often mentioned with pod boats, prevents untimely skating on the anchor, a potential problems in tight places.
The hull carries its beam well aft at the chines and therefore has an innate ability to carry a good load back aft. The generator might be moved on future boats, as it was it sat up quite high on the forward U-shaped fuel tank. With a gas/water splitter and through-pod engine exhausts, this is a quiet boat even with all three engines running.
Engine room access is via a conventional cockpit hatch and the layout was all rather logical. The Cruisair air-con units are outboard with condensation drains, the strainer for the cooling pump has a clear inspection bowl, while those for the engines, with dipsticks on the centreline, have solid survey-standard strainers that don’t offer at-a-glance weed checks.
Single Racor fuel filters and coolant overflow bottles were forward, where there was virtual standing room, and the C-Zone brains were mounted high and dry. The fuel tank has sight gauges and remote shut-offs, twin fillers and stainless-steel fuel lines. There are two bilge pumps and a high-water alarm, plus fire-suppression system.
The twin battery chargers ensure quick-response charging. As with the Belize built by Moxey, the Riviera 50 Enclosed Flybridge is a step up in the engineering department.
ON THE WATER – Agile 50 turns off the wheel As is wont to happen, boat number one weighed a bit more than original targets. It felt heavy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, being steadfast through the water. But it was no rocket ship and, well, we don’t feel the figures from this demonstrator are truly indicative of how this dashing new 50 will end up performing.
That said, the 50 turned off the wheel with alacrity and agility, without skating like some IPS pod boats, and in a tight arc without falling over, either. Offshore, in about 1.5 metres of sea and a similar swell, the ride was smooth and agreeable. The entry is quite fine, which was welcome when we hammered through some decent swells during a run-out tide on the Gold Coast Seaway.
One the way back home, powering down the tightly packed sea at the bar, the Riviera 50 responded swiftly to the wheel, allowing the driver to compensate for slewing and keep the big boat on an even keel. There was a lot of spray, mind you, but we were running hard at near-20 knots down one wave and through the back of the next.
Top speed offshore on the day was 26 knots at 2970rpm, while the official sea-trial figures with half load say 27.2 knots at 2990rpm. We don’t doubt we could have rung a tad more out of the boat. Cruise at 2580rpm, roughly 400rpm off WOT, produced 19.6 knots up-sea. Not fast, no, but definitely comfortable.
According to Cummins’ technical data, these cruise revs should see 157.8 litres per hour of fuel consumption Our maths says that will give a range of 335 nautical miles from 90 per cent of the 3000 litre fuel supply. According to the SmartCraft display on the dash we were consuming 170 litres per hour, which doesn’t seem quite right.
According to Riviera’s projections, the upgraded 600hp IPS800s will give a top speed of 30.1 knots and cruise at 2000rpm of 23.2 knots, which is where this boat should be. We’re told the gains with the IPS are due to a better torque curve and different gear ratio. There’s a $44,000 premium for these engines.
With the upgraded 700hp IPS900s, top speed of 32.3 knots is anticipated, with 2000rpm cruise giving 24.9 knots. These engines cost a $110,000 premium, but boats #2 and #3 have these 10.9 litre lower-revving options, with bigger pods and props for more purchase and, we predict, greater cruise economy. In fitting these, the 50 will be the first Riviera ever with a keel and IPS pod drives.
Having said that, Caterpillar is working on its own rear-facing pod drive system and a new 650hp@2300rpm 8.7L six-cylinder engine will be available here next year. It may well prove the top standard offering for the 50 Enclosed Bridge. We’re keeping a close eye on these new Cat platforms and pod drive and will report back when they arrive.
Meantime, back inshore, we called on the optional Zeus Skyhook function on the Cummins Zeus drives and, despite wind and tide, the Riviera 50 held its position automatically, using satellites, computer brains and engines, to stay in the exact same position. Handy while prepping the fenders and lines.
VERDICT – Class-leading fit and finish in a big 50 Australians have a thing for Riviera boats. Over 33 years they have proven unsinkable, are found from various epochs tied to marinas from Port Phillip Bay to Port Douglas and around the world, with the yard notching up its 5000th build late last year.
The original recipe for success is still relied upon today, but the intrinsically practical cruisers are now usurped by the 50, with a new level of fit and finish, deeper-thinking in design, and ultimately higher quality. Longhurst should feel proud.
Compared with its competitor, the Maritimo M50, the Riviera 50 Enclosed is slightly longer by 4cm, not as wide by 19cm, and heavier by one tonne on paper. This should make it a very good seaboat.
Time will tell on the performance front, as the twin 600hp Cummins QSC8.3s are modest base engines for a boat of this size, especially as #1 was laid-up in Taiwan and overweight, but we’ve got no doubt the new 50 has a long life ahead of it.
In each of the three cabins, the accommodation is terrific. But we’re betting a full-beam iteration will be available in the future for those who want that. The sole layout option as it stands now is to relocate the stateroom in the bow, where it gains an ensuite and slightly enlarged floor space.
Meantime, for the multigenerational boater and serious cruiser, it’s all here: sleeping for six to eight, good range, plenty of domestic power, abundant refrigeration, loads of lounging, a big cockpit, enclosed bridge with internal stairs, autonomy with a watermaker, and a great ride from what feels like a very nice hull.
With so many owners of Riviera 47s in the marketplace, the 50 should be a natural progression. Considered the ideal-sized cruiser these days, it’s not too big for a couple to command, not so thirsty that you’ll be chained to the fuel bowsers, yet its big enough to accommodate the extended family at holiday time.
Just a nice fit, Australian-made and world class.
Specifications: Price as tested: About $1,619,000 with twin 600hp Cummins QSC8.3 with Zeus pod drives and Skyhook, cockpit and bridge docking stations, flybridge air-con, Davco davit, teak-laid cockpit, transom barbecue, underwater lights cabin AVs, dishwasher, washer/dryer, opening stateroom portlights, painted hull, awning upgrade, upholstery upgrade, carpet upgrade, galleyware kit, Raymarine electronics, and loads more. Priced from: $1,435,000 LOA: 17.26m Hull Length ISO8666: 16.19m Beam: 5.01m Draft: 1.33m (max) Weight: Around 23,000kg (dry w/standard Cummins twin engines) Sleeping: 6+2 Fuel Capacity: 3000 litres Water Capacity: 700 litres Holding tanks: 150 litres Engines: Twin 600hp Cummins QSC8.3 turbo-charged, fully electronic, six-cylinder common rail diesel engines with Zeus pod drives Supplied by: The Riviera Group, 50 Waterway Drive Coomera, Qld, 4209 Phone (07) 5502 5555 See www.riviera.com.au.
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Published : Friday, 11 October 2013
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