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Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht - More is More

by John Curnow, Editor, Powerboat-World.com 10 Jul 21:27 UTC
Wonderful Silver Hairdos - MAN 1900hp V12 - Riviera 72 Sport Motor Yacht © John Curnow

Almost 12 months ago we were on the very first Riviera 68 Sports Motor Yacht. It was a spin up the coast from Sydney Harbour to Broken Bay that totally delighted us. So you might then ask that seeing as you have already reviewed it, why you would come back to do it all again with the 68’s bigger sister, the 72?

There are over 17 orders for the craft, and around five have been handed over so far. One resides in Spain, and then there is the one we are on, which was the launch craft from the magnificent annual Riviera Festival of Boating Gala evening on May 26th. It is soon to be on its way to Sydney for that city’s show, and then it is off to Fort Lauderdale where she will spearhead a grand display, that will also include the World Premiere of the highly anticipated Belize 66 Sedan.

Taking Hull #1 of Riviera's 68/72 SMY Sisters Offshore

As if that was not all special enough for Hull #5, as she is lovingly referred to, she also sports one really, really, really major draw card. Whistling (literally) her along to a super-impressive 35knots are 24 Iron Ladies down below with utterly charming silver hairdos. Each of the pair of 12s arranged in a 90°V have four exhaust driven hairdryers that force fuel and air into the intercoolers, and collectively they max out at a whopping total of 3800hp!

Last year’s boat had just 3100. The smaller sister also had 39-inch wheels at the ends of her twin Aquamet 22 Sea Torque, fully encased, oil filled shafts to remove cavitation. This one has 40x49s. Now it is power that makes you fast. Mid-30s type hustle actually, but it is torque that makes you quick. In our case, each of the 24.2 litre, four valves per cylinder V12s delivers an eye shattering 6220Nm. It is this impressive statistic that gets the boat on the plane early, and made even more so when you consider that she is easily 60 tonnes wet ship.

A flat torque curve from 1200 to 2100rpm means there is none of the old dig yourself out of the hole and climb up and on to the plane. Something this boat is already on at about 16 knots, by the way. Funnily enough, you plant the throttles of the Twin Disk controls, and you wait. Not for long, mind you, but there is the odd moment whilst all of the fly by wire computers sort things out, and no doubt the fuel pumps suck in enough Diesel to complete the task.

Next, as if it is all part of engaging the warp drive on the Enterprise, the scenery on the sides start to blur like the streaks of the stars, then there’s the wallop as the acceleration kicks in, the flash when you make the jump to hyperspace, and then finally things go back to black and all is normal once more. This is exactly when you start smiling at this boat’s capabilities. You almost feel as though she could take on a Dodge Demon in a ¼ mile drag. Actually, the full launch to over 30 knots is completed in around 120 metres. Q.E.D.

Having an immense amount of fun with Hull #5 - a 72 SMY

This is definitely why we had to come back, and also to really get to see where the added four feet landed. Around 2/3 of it go into the massive cockpit, and the remainder is now part of the covered mezzanine deck. This is because the sisters share the same for’ard section, and the hull mould separates roughly where the aft end of the coachouse meets the deck.

All that added volume out aft adds to buoyancy, but there are two metric tonnes of fuel there now (taking her to a total of 9000 litres), and if you opt for the Seakeeper gyro, then add in another tonne. So that accounts for that, and her running surface, courtesy of the gifted Frank Mulder, remains superb and true. Interestingly, the barest amount of reverse sheer means that with a 4-5° attitude at cruise the forepeak is essentially dead flat. Stunning.

Once you’ve managed to bring yourself back to the space station from going where no man has gone before, you get the chance to start to take in all the amenities that have gone into making the craft what she is. Exhaust separation means the big venturi pipes below extract all the burnt Diesel with all of the seawater coming out of the heat exchangers. That means whisper quiet, and you only hear the exhaust at idle, when the gas passes above the waterline.

I first came across this style of system in a custom build Down East style lobster boat, and was impressed with the quietness and lack of smell, which can cause sea sickness very quickly. The 72SMY takes it to another level all together, and with the super-silent and smooth running of the shafts, along with the Veem screws, it makes it oh so pleasurable. You actually enjoy the turbo whistle. It also means no sooty topsides or transom, and that is a Godsend!

There was a genuine 15 knots out of the South when we ran her off Queensland’s Gold Coast, and I really was struggling to feel the resultant sheep in the paddock from all the way up on the bridge, even though my eyes could easily see them through the expanse of tinted glass. We were making around 24 knots directly into it from the 1850RPM that the girls were delivering.

You are literally bounding along like a horse cantering, consuming say a touch over 400lhr, combined, and still only at something like 73% engine load, so certainly well under the magic 80% threshold. As long as you know where the next bunkering port is, you will make it in any sort of weather. That is very nice to know here in Australia, and also in places like the upper East Coast of the USA.

She will turn in and around herself inside six lengths, and points and shoots like a rifle. Her fine entry, which then muscles out to her chines and then sleek yet powerful topsides, accounts for that. There is absolutely a reason to have ‘Sport’ in her name, for it is certainly not just a groovy marketing term. The Seakeeper gyro stabiliser is less and less effective as you speed up, but if you’re trolling in a beam sea, or at anchor enjoying a scrumptious lunch, then you will simply love its work. End of story.

She is also resplendent with world’s best, Humphree’s interceptors. These are the strongest and fastest acting on the planet, and on this boat they are completely set up for acceleration and then cruise (which is like 2 -3° of deployment), and you can even have them automatically remove list in cross wind conditions.

One big thing to note is how dry she is, which we already really knew from running the 68SMY. Another is the complete lack of perspective. It is not a bad thing, just something you do have to get used to. You go through to WOT, which is 2350RPM and some 700lhr into said seaway. It is this that basically leaves you with no comment. Save for this. If you are fortunate enough to already be in your 68 or 72 or be waiting for it to be delivered, then God bless you. No wonder you bought it. Utterly brilliant.

I also did 20 knots, which is when she’s at her ultimate range for planing speed, and this is at 1700RPM and 360lhr. Yes. Once again I failed to deploy the autopilot. I am assured it works fine, but it is just too much fun doing it yourself, and even though I was out there for well over an hour, I never felt bored nor tired. In fact, you get into disposing of the nautical miles, which you’re doing fairly rapidly I might add, and also enjoying the conversation you can have at normal speaking volumes.

It was at this point that Riviera Factory Pilot, Mark Lawson, turned to me and asked, “Well do you know you’re on the plane?” The interesting element out of it all was that I responded by saying, “I don’t even know that I am on the plane when doing 30 knots!” If you can comprehend that, then you will instantly have an appreciation as to why this craft is so, so special.

If not, take a quotient of ease, add in loads of comfort, a tonne of enjoyment, yards of ambience, buckets of pleasure, and a soupçon of X-Factor, and you might be close. It is the total, and unequivocal definition of get out and use your boat type cruising. You will not be tied to the quay, but you will be popular when you are there…

There are no rattles, just that delightful whistle, and the solitude to contemplate life’s joys, of which there are many when you are in the amidships seat up top. I dare say every other seat on board has its own collection of happy thoughts to provide as well.

No joke. Up on the bridge, which remember is almost 12m up in the air, if you left 10mm at the top of your mug, then I am sure you would not spill any of your tea. Now the first boat may have had the steering of an XJ6. That has been totally refined on it, as well as all the ones since. What I am so, so pleased to say is that the ride is absolutely in the same league as Jaguar’s legendary saloon, with the space of the long wheelbase S Class, and now the handling of the 7 Series added to it.

Before I forget to even mention her superyacht qualities on the inside, her gorgeous galley has the full opening onto the mezzanine deck, ample space for two to work, and Miele appliances. There is dining and lounge space in the for’ard section of the main saloon, and all can easily see the TV that raises from a slot in the galley bench. 10 could sit here with ample elbowroom.

Down below, the VIP Guest Stateroom is up for’ard, and it has it’s own head. The two bunkrooms are either side, and they share a sumptuous and spacious head. The Owner’s Stateroom is amidships and is full-beam. Of course it is. Should you choose the Presidential version, then you loose the Starboard cabin, and the head moves for’ard into that position. This in turn means you can literally play kick to kick or badminton across the big bedroom, which the kids will love, even if others on board are a little more reticent!

Accessed directly from the mezzanine, there is the laundry, and a crew or utility cabin with a Skipper’s bunk immediately ahead of the engine room, which is a major benefit of the vessel’s V-Drive format. It can also serve as an engineering space, or storage for surfboards/dive gear and fenders etc. There is also a full head, so that wet feet do not have to traipse through the main saloon, and mucky hands won’t touch all that super impressive gloss work that is sprayed by computer controlled robots. BTW, if you are old enough, then the varnish really is a Carly Simon/Warren Beatty moment!

Up top is one of the best ‘Rooms With A View’ that I have been in, this side of a 60+m behemoth. If you had to quibble then I would replace the lounge to starboard with a third pilot’s chair, but I am sure Riviera would do that for you as a custom option if you asked. It also turns into a massive cabin with a large bed, and it also has possibly my most favourite place on board - the Juliet deck. If this boat wasn’t so much fun to drive, then I would spend my life out there with a constant supply of Bollinger La Grande Année on hand in the fridge.

That just leaves the foredeck for the tender, and when you’re anchored it becomes the locale for a great soirée, with its very own custom awning for the hot locales on this here planet. Time to get Fusion’s awesome Apollo HiFi to kick the party on…

Placing it all into real world terms, the 72 SMY will travel 650nm at 20 knots, which is Sydney to Hobart, or 2200nm at 10 knots, and that’s Sydney to Fiji, which is pretty impressive. OK. You are in for four and a half large to start with, and a bait well, rear awning, gyro stabiliser, teak deck, and of course the 1900s, as well as other bids and bobs will take you to AUD5.2m, but given that she actually compares to craft much larger than her own waterline, and performs like most of those others could only pretend at achieving, then it is a compelling argument.

Now all of which means that right there is the origin of a grand master plan. The global tour. Think about it for a second. Riviera’s 72 SMY is far easier to run and manage than a large superyacht. You can do it yourself if you so choose. It is far more neighbourly, shall we say, at all the best anchorages you’ll want to be at. She is able to get into places bigger vessels cannot, for she only draws 1.8m, and at just 78 and a quarter feet LOA, she will be allowed into many of the ports of Europe, meaning you won’t be using the tender to come in from the anchorage around the corner!

You could collect it from the factory and do Australia and the South Pacific, then ship her to the glorious Pacific Northwest where she would be utterly awesome, send her on to the Caribbean, then the East Coast, before she gets taken across The Pond for you to enjoy the Mediterranean. Nice. More than nice, actually, and probably well under budget for the other option.

In Australia, HSV used to make V8 muscle cars. For years they had the tag line, ‘I just want one’, and I am going to borrow it right now. Tell the bright work crew to start welding up another of those glorious tuna towers, and MAN to deliver another pair of the 1900s… Also, evidently I am not the only one, by any means. So well done to all of those who got in early, because delivery is now early in 2020.

Finally then, on paper, if someone said to you that a boat displacing near as good enough to 60 tonnes was a sports boat, then they’d probably also try to claim that a mallet was able to do the job of a centre punch. Well. Meet the mallet of sports motor yachts!

If you want to begin your own Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht experience, then please go - here

To take in the whole Riviera Experience, be a part of the annual Riviera Gala

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