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Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht - Just move with the times

by John Curnow on 17 Jul
The delightful Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht entering Runaway Bay Marina on the Gold Coast. - Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht © John Curnow
Honestly. I cannot tell you how well it works, because I simply never used it! No. Not the boat itself... I actually spent many enjoyable hours on board Riviera’s delightful 4800 Sport Yacht. Right. What I was referring to was the autopilot, and the reason for that lies in the very sentence immediately preceding this one. Enjoyment.

And that is the key, because often you just set the autopilot, and then end up pressing +1, -10, or whatever to make your adjustments. Not so with this vessel, which is hull number one of the series, and presently they’re up to #12. Now later on my period of self-indulgence was spoiled momentarily when I learned that there was a 12-month waiting list, but that’s great for Riviera, and utterly sensational intel for owners. That’s because it means there is always a good demand for second-hand craft. Naturally, that also indicates strong resale values, and when you put in AU$1.4m (as tested), it is nice to know the capital is not eroding like the anodes underneath.



So it is the 4800 Sport Yacht’s fault. It is just too much fun. Quite simply, it really is a big speedboat. OK. OK. OK. There is air-conditioning, three TVs, two electric heads, washer/dryer, full galley, 11kVA genset, watermaker, three fridges, icemaker, gyro stabiliser if you want it, tender garage, BBQ, LED lighting, soft-touch switches, electric tables, hydraulic swim platform, a huge electric sunroof, CZone to govern it all (bar navigation and engineering), and Al Fresco dining. So it is anything but a stripped out racer. Oh yeah, she also sleeps five in her dedicated accommodation, with plenty of other places inside and out for the self-anaesthetised to crash, as and when required…

At 20 metric tonnes with a full belly of 2100l of Diesel, she does have a distinct displacement, but the pair of 600hp Volvo-Penta D8 800s running through the IPS15 pod drives will hurtle her along at 34 knots (2950RPM and 240l/hr). I was literally going to say ‘at full noise’, but you just cannot make that statement, for you do carry out conversations at your normal speaking volume. So no doubt the removal of that classic old line is a testament to the underwater exhaust that is a more than handy side benefit of the pod drive system. To say nothing of a dirty transom and topsides, either!



Yet if you want it to be all about drinking the gin, not the Diesel, then I recommend 24 knots (190l/hr), where there is a certain smooth, and when you come the think about, quite intoxicating canter that won’t rattle the ice cubes too much. Not that launching her off 1.5m swells at over 30 knots isn’t utterly hilarious, and absolutely begs you to do it again, but you can be on the plane at a bit over 18 (2200RPM for 150l/hr combined), so the choice is totally up to you. As you can see from the pictures I had the best kind of conditions (24 Degrees C and approximately 8 knots from the Nor’east), but Riviera’s have been known to travel from Southport to Sydney at 27 knots in a 4m following sea.

At 26 knots she will take you 270nm in between drinks, call it 7l/nm, but you will need to know exactly where that next bowser is, for you will not have much in reserve. Equally, the extremely flat torque curves (1750nm from 1600RPM) that these modern, supercharged and turbocharged 7.7 litre, inline six cylinder Diesels possess, means that range does not vary that greatly between 24 and 34 knots, so it is only a matter of whether you want to glide there, or go express. It is even more impressive when you note that these are Euro 5 spec motors!



It must also be said that Volvo’s Glass Cockpit System of monitoring, display and control is totally superb, and definitely commensurate with a vessel of this calibre. Nowhere more than at start up was this more obvious. It is actually more like boot up. Engaging ignition starts the engine room fans and also spools up the microprocessors. You do need to wait for that process to complete before you press fire, but the benefit is that you have just vented the engine room out aft under the cockpit, so it is win/win for sure.

What was also interesting was how you got engaged with the whole craft, given that it is nowhere near as intense and demanding as the old days with cables for clutches and throttles, and wires moving quadrants over the spade rudders. That came as somewhat of a surprise, and hence why the poor old autopilot never got a look in. Perhaps it is because the fly by wire nature is so responsive. You move the wheel but a couple of inches and the bow is off, carving a new direction immediately.



It slices incredibly well, and that is something you have to experience for yourself. No words will do that justice. Maybe it is because the interceptors do such a good job of making it around 3-5 degrees attitude, and so the bow is the knife, which in turns means less ‘rudder’ activity and drag, and then that all goes towards making that smooth ride that has been so impressive.

It is effortless, and it does not have to climb out of its own hole like boats of yore, which means your perception of speed is somewhat diminished. Captain Torque spinning the huge contra-rotating screws below is surely responsible for that. In the conditions I had, I felt more like I was in command of lake boat. Overall, this is an accolade few boats can have applied to them. The level of refinement on offer here, even over boats from the 90’s is as distinct as the many technological aspects that have gone into making it so. It is all about hull form and Diesel technology, which you note from things like no humming in the ears and never a jarring in the feet. Quite likely it is more than sum of its parts.



Additionally, having driven for years upstairs in open bridges, I had always been a little cautious about the single level boats. They are called Sedan, Coupé, Hard Top, Sport Yacht, or just plain old Sport. Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals of dragging around the extra weight high above the waterline, and carving a hole in air for it at the same time, had not been lost on me.

Furthermore, there are plenty of areas to entertain or escape on Riviera’s 4800 Sport Yacht, including the expansive foredeck. So I did not at all feel like I was missing out by not having a flying bridge to go and play on. Equally, these days the fish don’t stand much of chance with the way electronics have gone, so that also starts to rule out being up top, too. Therefore, in the end, and with thanks to Riviera, I can say I am converted.



Equally, many at this point always use the powercat card. Sure you get some more room, but then there is a lot more beam and boat to worry about, and that’s before you get to berthing and slippage fees. Yet above it all, and compared with the ones I have driven thus far, I can say they’re just not as fun as this boat! They might be slightly more economical, but then they do not offer the same performance, either. The ergonomics of this whole 4800 Sport Yacht package only adds to the whole affair, and so as not to use the ‘e’ word yet again, I will simply go with gratification.

The boat also has an engine room camera and then one under the awning, which is quite handy when underway, as dead astern is really hard to see from the helm station. High-pressure cleaning is a plug and play system around the craft, as well as being available for anchor wash. The switchboard in the starboard lazarette is easily accessible, and clearly named.



Now Riviera has 550 staff who produce 100 boats a year, with around 55 of them leaving the Coomera factory on Australia’s Gold Coast to go to their new homes in the USA, NZL and UAE. Of the 14 Riviera models presently on offer, the 6000 Sport Yacht suffers the same problem as the 4800, in that you will have to wait a year for one of those, too! 50 of these 4800 Sport Yachts have been sold and production is doubling to meet that demand, and new models will debut in a few months, which makes it one busy company. Many thanks also to Stephen, Darina, Peter and Mark for making this great day happen.

So if you want a boat you’ll actually use, and also thoroughly enjoy, then do look at the Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht. I am glad I did, and the same could well happen to you too. See http://www.riviera.com.au for all the details, find a dealer, and to begin your Riviera Experience, which also just happens to be the name of Riviera’s online in-house magazine, as well… (Argh. Argh. Argh.)











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