If you have not heard of Riviera or seen one of its boats you are not spending enough time on the water. Few foreign fishboat builders have done a better job of winning the hearts and minds of American enthusiasts. The reason is simple; the Australian builder's products are a good fit. Riviera's new 42 Flybridge Convertible is a good example.
Like her convertible sisters, she is designed to appeal to the American taste bud. She fuses the traditional features that serious fishermen expect with the comfort and capability that modern cruising folks demand. These assets are wrapped in a styling package that is clearly inspired by popular trends in American convertible design. Riviera has managed to deliver all of this at a price that is turning heads in a market traditionally dominated by American builders.
I sea-trialed Riviera's 40 convertible shortly after her introduction and was impressed. And since the 42 is based on the 40's 14-foot, 11-inch beam hull form, I was not surprised to find that she has a similar feel. In planing hull design, adding a bit more waterline length without adding a great deal of weight often results in a more easily driven hull. This seems the case with the 42.
Riviera's data suggests a cruising speed of 26 knots and a top speed of 29 knots with the standard 480 hp Cummins. While this is excellent performance, I feel our test boat's pair of 600 hp, QSM11's would be the best choice for those who intend to load the boat with fishing or cruising gear. During our sea trial I recorded a top speed of 31.5 knots at 2100 rpm. The electronically controlled QSM11's produced clean, even acceleration to maximum speed in 20 seconds.
The 42 is big for her size. Riviera's specifications indicate her length overall (with platform and pulpit) is 50 feet, 10 inches. Obviously, this allows for an arrangement plan that is more spacious than her 42-foot designation might suggest. In addition, Riviera uses the volume wisely. A swing-door leads from her cockpit to the saloon. There is L-shaped seating aft with a section devoted to internal storage and one that converts to a berth. A small bar area has an icemaker and fitted bottle and glass stowage. Forward, the dinette seats four. Entertainment gear, including a flat screen TV with a DVD and VCR resides above the dinette. A windshield/lower station option is available, however, this cabinetwork must be sacrificed.
The galley is a step-down and has a teak and holly sole. A microwave-convection oven, dual voltage refrigerator and a two-burner cook-top are standard and there is fitted storage for tableware as well as a storage area beneath the galley sole. There is a dishwasher in the galley and a combo washer/dryer is located in a locker in the passageway. The latter is a plus as the 40's was hidden in the guest cabin.
While the 42's two-stateroom arrangement is similar to the 40's, Riviera used the additional space for a second head and a bit more elbowroom. The master stateroom is forward and has a queen island berth and a private head with a stall shower. The guest cabin has upper and lower berths and a settee that can be used as a third berth or combined with the lower berth to form a double. The second head is accessible from the guest cabin or from the passageway.
The interior's blend of teak, fiberglass and soft goods reflects a subtle upgrade I have noticed in the line over the last few years. Riviera has mastered its high-gloss interior finish and the look is quite competitive by U.S. production standards. The one exception; carpet is used to finish the interior of hanging lockers when cedar or a finished surface would be desirable. Rumor has it this will change in '05.
The bridge is capped with a hardtop with an integral radio box and an isinglass enclosure. The helm and companion seating is comfortable and while the express cruiser-like helm design does not follow the American fishboat theme, it is simple, well organized and there is space for the typical allotment of electronics. A wet bar has a sink and a refrigerator and there is a seating area and stowage forward.
A fixed canvas cockpit shade provides protection from the sun without compromising the skipper's view from the bridge. An aggressive non-skid cockpit sole is standard and teak is offered as an option. Riviera's unique perimeter drain system channels water to a central discharge at the transom. The bulkhead console has a bait prep center with a sink, a cooler/freezer and a trash receptacle. There is an in-sole fish box plumbed with a macerator and a live well with a view port at the transom. A second hatch allows access to the lazarette. Those intent on boating large fish might find the swim platform and inboard swinging transom door awkward. Boats ordered without platforms come with outboard swinging transom doors.
Riviera builds more than 400 boats a year at its production facility in Coomera on Australia's Gold Coast. Hulls and superstructures are hand-laminated in female tooling with a blend of woven and stitched reinforcements. The 42's hull is solid fiberglass and is supported by a network of foam filled fiberglass stringers and marine plywood bulkheads. Forward, the interior sole is glued and screwed to the stringer tops and fiberglass tabbed around the perimeter. Cavities between the stringers are filled with foam to stiffen the bottom panels and exposed bilge areas are finished in gelcoat. Balsa coring is used to stiffen the exterior decks and the superstructure.
Like most modern production boat builders, Riviera assembles its boats using modular interior components. Instead of installing the interior modules in the hull and then fitting the superstructure as is common, they bond the modules to the superstructure prior to fitting it to the hull. The hull-deck joint is then bonded and mechanically fastened. While I can see no particular advantage to this "down-under solution, it seems a perfectly sound approach.
The 42's engine room is accessible from the cockpit and while the QSM11's are a tight fit, overhead hatches are provided. Fiberglass fuel tankage is a plus as are the integral fiberglass water-lift style mufflers. Wiring and plumbing systems appear orderly and unlike many boats of foreign build follow a design philosophy (American Boat & Yacht Council) that is common in the United States. This familiar format will save service dollars.
The 42 is a straight-up convertible with the flavor and constancy of a well thought out and constructed production design. While she is foreign built, she is clearly the product of folks who understand the eccentricities of the U.S. convertible market. Given this and Riviera's strong sales and service network, she seems a good value.
Contact: Riviera Yachts, Eastern USA: 561-721-4100; www.riviera.com.au.