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I read this story over at Crystal Blues BlogSpot http://svcrystalblues.blogspot.sg/2013/10/dangerous-liferaft-servicing.html and I would urge all to go there and read the original report about this cruising couple’s personal experience regarding Liferaft Servicing in Thailand.

06 Liferaft tape moving and cannister open

The tape was already coming loose, exposing the contents to the atmosphere. This was truly shoddy and unprofessional work, that had in fact cost a lot of money – over $1,400.00 !

Some absolutely reckless service standards on something that is a boat owners Last Line of Lifesaving when facing a perilous and life threatening situation.

I would say it is a MUST READ for anyone planning to have their Liferaft serviced in Thailand.

Beware of MCS at Samutparkam in Thailand.

Caveat Emptor.

A Must Read !

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As expected Boatpoint is the first to publish a Full and detailed Test & Review of the much hyped Riviera 50.

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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.

Here goes……

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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.ge5272940067841649979

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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.

Read the latest Boatsales Network news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at the Boatsales Network’s mobile site. Or download the all-new App.

To comment on this article click here

words & photos – David Lockwood

Published : Friday, 11 October 2013

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Do you think Team USA outspent You

Grant, Do you think Oracle Team USA outspent you ? Do I really have to answer that !

Laughter Breaks Out across the room !!!

Watch the clip at    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_pT2aSt54w&feature=c4-overview&list=UU31PWNTrFdNCMVv1s0Y4JCg

The Billionaire vs the Country !!

Larry Ellison’s fiscal 2013 salary was USD 78.4 million, down from the previous year.

Forbes magazine ranks him as America’s third-richest person with personal wealth of US$41 billion.


Oracle Team USA won. Emirates Team NZ also won, but Team USA won bigger.

Team USA is used to Big. Big Budgets, Big Team, Big Swagger & Big Bravado. They like all that in the US.

Emirates Team NZ must have had a vision, and a desire, and a motivation. I’m guessing that it was to do the KiwiNation proud. It’s clear it meant so much to all the Kiwi’s in KiwiLand.

Team NZ, a nation of 4 and a bit million versus the Billionaire. The odds were never good. Team NZ poured their heart and soul into that campaign. It was obvious what it meant to each and every one of them, to each and every KIWI.

The KiwiNation must be proud of what that team achieved and the way that they did it. Deano Barker did everything that he could, just like all in Emirates Team NZ. At the end of the day Oracle Team USA used their Big Budgets to keep tweaking the boat right up to the last day. They had an extra Boat and an extra Team and finally an extra gear and an extra turbo booster up wind.

Boat Speed. Boat Speed. Boat Speed. As they say on TV “Boat Speed makes a Tactician look Good”

Throughout the whole event and during all the “psyching” at Press Conferences etc, the Kiwi’s handled themselves with humility, professionalism and patriotic pride. They are all, each and every soul, on Emirates Team NZ, a credit to their nation.

To loose the cup after leading 8:1 is hard to take. It must be very raw.

But there are no losers on Team NZ. They have earn’t so much respect from people watching all over the world. They have done the KiwiNation proud.

I hope that every Kiwi in New Zealand give all of the Emirates Team NZ team a hero’s welcome when they reach home. They have done New Zealand proud. No more so than Dean Barker. They all deserve thanks and gratitude for competing right to the end and doing so in true Kiwi fashion. None more so than Dean.

Celebrate what you achieved.

Emirates Team NZ won in San Francisco. Oracle Team USA just won bigger. That’s what Big Budgets do for you.


Team Oracle USA

I thought that he was just full of Bull when he was spouting off about the “greatest sporting comeback”, but it seems very likely that he will do just that.

His 72ft CAT now has an extra gear over the Kiwi’s, especially upwind.

I think the Kiwi’s, like me, must have fallen into the trap of “don’t worry the odds are staked in our favour; we just need one point”

Well its nearly over. One Race. One Winner. One Loser.

Fat Lady please get ready.

The America’s Cup seems set to be ‘mainstream sports’ at least for a day.

May the best team win.

That’s still the Kiwi’s by the way.

Team Oracle USA (money no object; Larry) must have spent a fortune.

If they keep the Cup then more of the same. Next time there may only be one challenger who can afford the costs.

If the Kiwi’s win then there is a chance the sport can perhaps get back to a more even handed approach.

Come on KIWI’s !!!!!!!!


Ocean Pearl @ Anchor

Proud Owners

For all those wondering what happened to the GREY PEARL owners, they have just crossed the North Atlantic in their Nordhavn 64 “OCEAN PEARL”

Follow their Blog at http://www.oceanpearlyacht.com/aspx/m/Ocean-Pearl-Blog

They departed St. John’s, Newfoundland in early July and arrived in Crookhaven Ireland nine days later.

Crookhaven Arrival

Arrival Crookhaven

Ocean Passage

Ocean Route

They are expected to cruise Ireland & Scotland before possibly heading further north ?

Is there a GSSR reunion on the cards ?

Ocean Pearl

Grey Pearl lives on


The following is an article published on Boatpoint containing an Interview with the Riviera owner Rodney Longhurst in which he shares some insight as to how Riviera design and build boats nowadays and compared to years before. The headline refers to the old days and nowadays they aim to get it right “first time”

It’s an “interesting” read especially for any owners of Riviera’s with a low Hull Number (i.e. less than Nine !!)

2013 Riviera Update — Exclusive Boatpoint    http://www.boatpoint.com.au/news/2013/2013-riviera-update—-exclusive-37700

Some 18 months down the track, Longhurst stamps his mark on Riv

Last year’s exclusive Riviera catch-up was sub-headed “Lunch with new owner Rodney Longhurst” (left in above pic). Since that nosh-up, a lot of water has past under the bridge and down the mighty, miry Coomera River, where the boat-building yard is located.

For starters, the Longhurst family has acquired the 14-hectare luxury boat-building facility, the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, from the banks. You couldn’t ask for a more resounding vote of confidence in Riviera and Australia’s boat-building industry in general.

When we arrive, almost 18-months from his initial purchase in late-June, the difference is obvious. The gardens are neat and tidy, the hedges trimmed, there’s a spring in the step of those working on site… and boats are being built again.

We’re early, so I entertain the thought of calling this “brunch with Rodney Longhurst”. Only he doesn’t drink coffee. In fact, I’m unsure of his vices other than, perhaps, workaholism and an obsessive/compulsive eye for detail. This is what you want from a boat builder.

Over the past 18 months, Longhurst has been focused on Riviera’s future, restructured the business, reviewed internal processes and procedures, invested in new-model development, recruited new and better people for the job, and grown Riviera’s presence from that of a business in receivership to one that’s driven by his personal quest for perfection.

This differs from how boats, including Rivieras, were built in the distant past. When it was purely a numbers game, hulls were cut and shut, ‘new’ models were rushed down the production line to market, and then the bugs were ironed out.

The new Riviera 50 Enclosed, which is set to debut at the 2013 Sydney International Boat Show opening August 1, heralds a seismic shift in the way Rivieras are built.

The first all-new boat from Longhurst and returning CEO and good mate Wes Moxey has been more than a year in the making. To garner would-be owner input and get things right before pressing the ‘go’ button they created a full-sized walk-through mock-up of the interior.

Longhurst has been instrumental in the fine tune of the design and you can see his mark in respect of attention to detail. “It’s no longer acceptable to build a boat and wait till the 10th model to get it right. We have to get it right from the beginning,” he explains, echoing that Field of Dreams’ slogan that if you build it (right) they will come.

Indeed, it’s no longer a numbers game — it can’t be in this market — which ultimately means greater attention to detail. The upshot is less boats of greater quality. And that’s got to be good news for Riviera buyers.

NO LONGER A NUMBERS GAME In the 2012/13 financial year, Riviera delivered 50 boats, we’re told, including five Belize motor yachts. At the time of our visit, just over 20 boats were in build at the factory. They start at the ‘entry-level’ $900K-plus 445 SUV. We jump aboard the 43 Flybridge sistership (just over $1 million) to conduct our interview at the Riviera’s marina, as the rain pounds the tin roof above.

At the same time, boats are in build right up to a Riviera 63 Enclosed. Longhurst says Riviera is in discussion with some prospective buyers of their 75 flagship. Eventually, there is suggestion Riviera could go bigger.

While bigger boats are propping up the market, the new 445 SUV (launched 2012 Sydney boat show) has been a success. There have been 11 built in less than a year. South Australia has been a good market. But while Riviera still builds stock boats these days, mostly they are made to order.

The R Marine dealership model has changed. Riviera was finalising the sale of the last (Perth) dealership at the time of interview. This will see the boat builder withdraw entirely from the retail business. Riviera was working with GE Finance at the time of writing to create a product that will assist the new independent R Marine dealers to hold floor stock.

“But it’s not a numbers game any more. It’s not about building a whole bunch of boats and sticking them into the dealers hoping they’re going to sell,” says Stephen Milne (right in pic), Director of Brand and Communications. “Everyone enjoys the whole approach of customising their boats and doing different things to them. So we’re a little bit more of a bespoke boat builder these days.”

MORALE IS UP Meantime, 18 months down the track, Longhurst says his team has performed remarkably well. “The guys know there is an owner, the property has been purchased, there’s some real security and good morale. And that’s continuing day-by-day after these guys have been working under that fear of what’s going to happen through almost three years of receivership,” he says.

When asked if expectations and goals have been met after purchasing Riviera more than a year ago, Longhurst is philosophical. “If you were to ask me what the economy is going to be like in a year, I don’t really know. So I have to do the best I can with the team, week in and week out, and that’s the way we try and work. We focus on what we can control and do it the best we can,” he adds.

“I’ve come in here because I’m aware that Riviera is seen as a bit of an icon and seen as a premium brand. And the fact that it weathered those almost-three years [in receivership] is certainly a strong reason why I was willing to come in here. I also had total belief in the team. I knew Wesley [Moxey, returning CEO] well and believe that with the team — I’ve worked in construction, hospitality and tourism — we can do something special here. That hasn’t changed,” Longhurst says.

FINESSE AND EXPERIENCE “Rodney’s attention to detail is taking Riviera to another level. The ultimate expression of that will be the launch of the 50 at the Sydney International Boat Show. That’s an entirely new boat inside and out and in every respect,” Milne says in support of his boss.

Longhurst makes the point that Riviera is paying a lot of attention to experienced people these days — from dealers to owners and prospective buyers — to come up with practical solutions and continually finesse the boats. It’s on this basis that Longhurst forecasts business will improve this financial year because “we are going to give them [would-be buyers] reason… if we’re good enough the Riviera family and new customers will see that.”

“My view on all that is we are here to build Rivieras as the absolute premium brand and give fantastic support and we believe that will show in new-boat sales,” Longhurst says.

SECOND-HAND MARKET Longhurst doesn’t consider the thousands of Rivieras in the second-hand market as competition so much as a marketing opportunity. “We’re continuing to adopt new technology and to build better. We’re working on improving that great Riviera legacy. Every single new boat is a learning from the past,” he says.

As for resale values, Longhurst says that’s a supply/demand question and more boaters in the marketplace will drive up used-boat values and, ultimately, help make the trade up to a new Riviera more accessible. In respect of new boats and their intrinsic value, the best thing he can do is build the boats the very best he can.

“We’re the only manufacturer in this country that puts its hand up to fund educational programs like the Riviera Festival, with the Women on Water, Riv Kids and other things to teach people how great boating can be,” Longhurst says, adding that “Riviera is not an elitist brand, it’s a premium brand”.

MANUFACTURING PLANS As for manufacturing, the new Riviera 50 Enclosed had its moulds made in Taiwan. This is a first for Riviera and Longhurst says that remains an option going forward on a case-by-case basis. The reason for building the new 50 moulds in Taiwan was partly because of the scaled-back Riviera business and the difficulty in suddenly finding contractors here.

CEO Moxey, who has had prior dealings with the Taiwanese yard, fast-tracked the mould making. But Longhurst stresses that all the Rivieras are built in Coomera by a team of master craftsmen with decades of experience. That is what they have concentrated their effort at doing on the new 50.

As Riviera moves forward with renewed vigour, backing and resources, former employees who took flight are returning to the company. There’s a mix of young guys and grey hairs on the floor, with Riviera saying it’s getting more involved in [government-assisted] apprentice programs.

Less but more considered boats is the way forward. “You can’t have a situation where you build the first boat and get it right by the 10th. I’m not interested in that. If we can get it right on paper and through mock ups and that NPD (new-product development) process then the final finessing is much easier,” explains Longhurst, as his new 50 Enclosed approached launch day after more than a year in the design and planning.

FUTURE RIVIERAS Longhurst is playing his cards close to his chest, but says: “We are definitely working on new concepts.” At a Riviera press conference in May, CEO Moxey said Riviera was having internal discussions about smaller boats and where to set the point of ‘entry level’.

But there have also been strong suggestions about a new class of motor yacht or passage-maker branded Riviera. The drawings were published on the company’s website prior to it going into receivership. We understand some kind of announcement will be made at the 2013 Sydney International Boat Show.

Longhurst admits, conceptually, they are looking at other styles to potentially answer [ageing] customer demands. But in keeping with the new modus operandi, Riviera doesn’t want to rush anything. Longhurst says the design process is more protracted, considered and richer than before. This, he says, will lead Riviera to consolidating its position as the premium boat builder in Australia and establishing a sustainable manufacturing model.

But you also get the feeling it’s something of a personal quest or journey for Longhurst. “If I can build something that people take away and say: ‘I’m so happy with this’ then that’s the ultimate. I get to work with a team of people and show what Australians can do. That’s exciting. Because some people say: ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’… it’s all hogwash.

“We can build as well or better than anywhere else in the world. If we’re good enough in the way we manage our processes we can build cost effectively,” he says, just days after Ford announced it would be closing its auto factory in Melbourne in 2016.

As time proves, Longhurst is correct in forecasting the Australian dollar would retreat to more historic currency-exchange levels. Since our interview, conditions have improved for exporters. Riviera exported over half its boats in the 2012/13 financial year despite everything going against the yard.

Meantime, Riviera may expand the aftermarket side of the business, inhabit more space for apprentice programs or build bigger boats. But the intention and vision is to keep the 14-hectare site for marine use as, indeed, it is zoned. It might also sub-lease space to other marine-related industries if there’s demand.

Virtually next door at Coomera, the marine-service centre called The Boatworks belongs to Longhurst. It caters for marine servicing, fitout and aftermarket businesses. New additions and upgrades are expected there in coming years.

POD POWER Meantime, Riviera says since it first introduced the Volvo IPS pod drive system on the 43 Offshore Express and then the 4400 Sport Yacht in 2007, upon which your writer voyaged from the Gold Coast to Hervey Bay over the course of three days, the yard has experienced extremely good feedback.

Riviera still offers a mix of pod and shaft drives, the latter on its bigger boats, but it makes the point that IPS and Zeus pods have been instrumental in enticing new blood to boating. After building hundreds of boats with pod drives, it’s safe to say Riviera has been at the forefront of this revolution.

Longhurst adds that he’s been to Sweden, to the Volvo plant, and that they are pushing the technology hard and evolving it because they believe it’s the future. Additionally, Milne says: “You just don’t go to a boat show these days and find people asking: ‘do you have a shaft drive?'”

“The benefits that you get in terms of fuel economy, performance, quietness, internal space, handling and docking are significant. It’s powerful stuff when it comes to selling a boat,” adds Milne.

FAMILY BOATERS “We’re a united group here. It’s all about what we can achieve. The monetary side is important, but that’s the tool that sits behind everything we do. It’s exciting because every day we’re trying to improve. It’s not a matter of putting policy in place and sitting back. We’re actively striving and refining, finessing and improving every day,” Longhurst says enthusiastically.

The Longhurst family has long been keen boaters. From the Riviera stable, they have owned a 40 Aft Cabin, 51 Open Flybridge and Mariner/Riviera M430 sportscruiser. But decades before that, they had Bertrams. And father John, who built Dreamworld at Coomera after working 12-hour days with a digger for two years, made Pride boats in Sydney.

Longhurst recalls the test runs on those early Prides, hanging on around infamous Jibbon bombora just outside Port Hacking, where he grew-up at the family’s waterfront home. He remembers building boats in the basement with a handplane and towing them around the foreshore at Yowie Bay.

His brother Tony, a subsequent Australian water-ski champion and successful V8 touring-car driver, used to tow Rodney on the waterway. His uncle on his mother’s side used to race boats, too, and now has a Riviera 51 moored at a Sydney motorboat club.

His father John also started his own mower company assisted by then fledgling retailer Gerry Harvey. There’s a story in the family about making the first lawnmower from which Victa sprouted. Such are the entrepreneurial roots.

YOU JUST FIND A WAY But in terms of influence, his father John has had the greatest impression. “He always said: ‘Never give up. Always try, be better, and a bit different. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.’ And if you roll-up your sleeves and have a bloody good go, you can do it,'” he says.

“That has been relentless. I’d come home from swimming races and be asked: ‘How’d you go today?’ I’d say: second. ‘Well, why didn’t you win?'” recounts Longhurst of the exchanges with his dad. “‘Because the other guy was fast,’ I’d answer. And dad would say: ‘So?'”

“But it wasn’t a matter of being a hard task master, he always had a belief that you find a way. You just find a way. Persevere and find a way,” he says, taking inspiration from his dad, now 80 years of age, who told him that turning Riviera around will be difficult but that it can be done.

“I remember people used to say my dad is crazy and he’ll never succeed,” recalls Longhurst, adding that he’s hearing the same kind of whispers about his venture now. Then you notice the glint in his eye, the steely determination, that he’s out to prove them wrong. He’s passionate about boating and, with three young boys, there’s a big future ahead. Adversity, it seems, is just fuel to the fire.

Some 18 months after buying the iconic boat builder, Riviera has changed. For the better. Evidently, there’s plenty more to come. Check out the new 50 Enclosed Flybridge to see where Riviera is heading following its acquisition by Rodney Longhurst and the high-achieving family.


This from Reuters on Ferretti

UPDATE 1-Yacht maker Ferretti cruising for China middle market

Considering Chinese brand acquisition in 12-18 months

* Eyeing IPO in Asia stock market in 3-4 years

* Shandong Heavy owns 75 pct of Ferretti

By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Ferretti, the Italian luxury yacht maker favoured by Chinese tycoon Li Ka-shing and Italy’s Fiat-owning Agnelli dynasty, may expand into smaller boat building in China to meet growing demand from the country’s newly-affluent middle classes.

The group, controlled by China’s state-owned Shandong Heavy Industry Group, is looking to add 6-8 metre pleasure boats to its range of customer-designed mega-yachts popular with the world’s super-rich.

Ferretti would manage production of the boats following the  acquisition of a Chinese brand over the next 12-18 months, Chief Executive Ferruccio Rossi told Reuters in an interview.

“With our know-how and support by our majority shareholder we are considering entering the so-called recreational segment and make smaller boats for the Chinese middle class through a local brand and a local manufacturing plant,” he said at the launch of Ferretti’s first megayacht under the smaller-sized and glamorous Riva brand.

Ferretti, taken over by Shandong Heavy in a 374 million-euro deal in January, owns eight brands including Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Itama and Bertram.

IPO CONSIDERED

Rossi said the group was also considering an initial share offering in Asia on the heels of Italian fashion group Prada’s IPO last year, Rossi said.

“Maybe in three to four years we could list on an Asian market to gain further visibility,” Rossi said. “I very much like the experience of Prada and we are looking at it closely.”

“There could be a dual listing but it’s premature to think about this now.”

Ferretti, which competes with smaller Italian peer Azimut Benetti, floated on the Milan stock exchange in 2000 following a string of acquisitions and delisted two years later.

It has said it would keep jobs and manufacturing in Italy, which has long dominated the yachting industry.

But a protracted recession and a fiscal clampdown have hurt domestic sales of luxury goods, Rossi said, and the company has  temporarily laid off workers at one of its Italian yards.

The global yacht market is expected to grow by 2 percent in 2012 from 5 percent last year, luxury body Altagamma said.

Rossi said Ferretti would continue to produce in Italy, where it aims to break even in the second half of 2013.

CHINESE HOLDINGS

Shandong Heavy Industry Group controls four groups with stock listings in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Shenzhen: Weichai Power , Weichai Heavy Machinery, Yaxing Motor Coach Company and Shantui Construction Machinery.

It plans to invest nearly 200 million euros in Ferretti, after an initial equity investment of 178 million euros for a 75 percent stake and 196 million euros of debt financing.

Former creditors Royal Bank of Scotland and hedge fund Strategic Value Partners own the remaining 25 percent.

Ferretti is not alone in finding itself owned by investors from emerging markets taking advantage of Europe’s financial woes to pick up brands and establish themselves as global players.

Private equity fund Permira, a former shareholder in Ferretti, sold fashion house Valentino to the Qatari royal family for around 700 million euros in July.

Ferretti makes around half of its sales in Europe, 15 percent in Asia-Pacific, and 35 percent in the Americas.

The company aims to make one third of revenues in each region by 2018.


Boating industry websites are reporting the following story.

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倪浩 Sunseeker

UK boatbuilder Sunseeker is in talks with a prospective Chinese owner, Chinese property firm Dalian Wanda, in a deal worth US$471m. Subject to regulatory approval, the purchase is imminent. ‘We are buying the best yacht company in the UK,’ Wang Jianlin, chairman of Beijing-based Dalian Wanda, was quoted as saying. If the deal is concluded, new investment will be forthcoming from the existing management and founder Robert Braithwaite.

Stewart McIntyre, Sunseeker’s CEO, said, ‘The discussions are ongoing and I cannot add any more. If they are successful it will not be a matter of months before reaching an outcome. Nothing will change. The current management team will remain including founder Robert Braithwaite. That was a pre-requisite for the talks going ahead.’

McIntyre declined to comment on reports that the possible purchaser is the Chinese group Dalian Wanda, the same company that McIntyre told IBI a few weeks ago was buying into Sunseeker China, one of the two Chinese mainland distributors of Sunseekers. On the prospect that these talks might draw other potential buyers, McIntyre said: ‘We will not be talking with anyone else.’

Gordon Hui of Hong Kong-based Sunseeker Asia, one of the top Sunseeker dealers in the world, pointed out that ‘This is a great step. I am delighted. The company is going to benefit from a huge boost in R&D. Wang Jianlin is himself a Sunseeker owner.’

The Sunseeker statement confirmed: ‘Sunseeker will remain a British company, headquartered in Poole, Dorset and will maintain its existing primary production bases in the UK, along with its current workforce and infrastructure. The existing management team and representatives of FL Partners will remain on the Sunseeker Boards, and founder Robert Braithwaite will continue to be involved in the business and remain as Group President.

‘The new majority shareholder, who has no current interest in the luxury motor yacht sector, supports Sunseeker’s commitment to superior products and its premium brand, both of which would be further enhanced by its investment,’ Sunseeker said.

‘If a deal is concluded, it will be fantastic news for the business, the wider Sunseeker ‘family’ and the motor yacht industry and will allow Sunseeker to expand its global base still further while retaining its current operational and manufacturing infrastructure at our headquarters in Poole.’

This isn’t the first move by a big Chinese firm into the luxury yacht sector – in January 2012, the Ferretti Group was sold to Shandong Heavy Industry Group-Weichai Group in a deal worth around €178 million.

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Nǐ hǎo – Suunseeker


If you have any interest in sailing or just like doing anything on or in the sea, take a look at the Video Tribute to Andrew ‘Bart’ Simspon, the British sailor that died as a result of the capsize of the Artemis Americas Cup yacht during practice in San Francisco Bay in early May 2013.

He seems to have been a larger than life, genuine good guy, that won an Olympic Gold medal, but remained an ordinary ‘bloke’ that just loved to help people in sailing.

The Video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vShSG2lDQ8g and well worth a look.

Fair Winds, and RIP Andrew.

Andrew Bart Simpson II