The galley has what looks like a huge fridge with a leather-paneled door. Open the door to this vault, however, and you find another door, this to a much smaller fridge inside, in addition to a large amount of stowage space-some of it dedicated to the Richard Ginori crockery and Riva's own silver-plated cutlery. The galley also includes a full stove and dishwasher for easy living on board.
The Ego is a three-cabin yacht: The master is in the bow, and a twin and a double are in the aft section with the saloon, separated by the dining area and galley. Optional layouts show the dining area converted into a fourth cabin or the master cabin moved aft, which then converts the dining area into the master bathroom. In fact, there are a lot of options here-except for the crew, whose twin-bunk cabin aft will probably not be in great demand in the U.S. market.
While I may have harbored a doubt or two about what that hard-edged Swedish interior would do for my more delicate sensibility (and body parts), I have no such doubts about the handling of this sports yacht. In this category, performance is king, and this yacht is a joy to drive, responding like a good sports car to the driver's commands and giving a ride in difficult sea conditions that will be the envy of competitors.
The top speed is up towards the 38-knot mark, which has its own excitement, but what makes the Ego stand out is the way that you feel: fully in control and taking supreme pleasure in driving. This hull was the prototype straight out of the factory and the ride does need to be fine-tuned by using the tabs when heading into the waves, but by keeping the bow down in this way the ride leveled out and was comfortable even in waves that were reaching five feet in height. While not the conditions you normally associate with sunny Portofino, these certainly made for good boat-testing weather-and the Ego came through with flying colors.
The helm is well laid out as far as the controls are concerned. An angled white-leather wheel replaces the usual vertical one, which contributes to the feeling of responsiveness, complemented in turn by well-placed throttles. The electronic displays for the MAN diesels are easy to read although a clear plastic cover over the navigation electronics does not seem to have a purpose except to introduce reflections. Visibility from the helm is excellent, except for the wide side pillars in the corners. With the double sun roof open, all is sublime-you get a really sporting feel driving this yacht.
Down below, the two 1,550 hp MAN diesels take up a lot of the available space in the engine compartment, making access to some areas rather difficult. These engines drive forward to ZF V-drive gearboxes; these are quite noisy and can intrude on the serenity of the aft cabins if you want to use them at sea.
The hull of the Ego is a conventional moderate-V with a 12-degree deadrise at the transom and propellers recessed into semi-tunnels to reduce the draft. The underwater hull extends right aft under the narrow swim platform and even the tabs are tidily recessed into the hull for a clean finish.
Finishing touches come up to and often exceed the already very high Riva standard, including the hand-blown Murano glass washbasins and the use of exotic woods. I love the mini-Bimini that is incorporated over the head of the forward sun bed, so that you can command shade at the touch of a button. It is these kinds of luxurious, personal touches that make Riva unique-a name synonymous with quality unto itself. It was indicative of the company's tenacious hold on quality control that our test yacht, straight out of the building yard and getting its first public airing, had Norberto Ferretti on board with his designers. I am quite sure we shall see changes and enhancements that will make this superb yacht even more of an ego booster than it already is.
Contact: Riva S.p.A., (011) 39 035910202; www.riva-yacht.com.