Pre-dawn rain faded as the sun split the horizon in Cannes, France. The late summer’s bright light reflected off the Riva 66’ Ribelle’s sapphire-blue hull, illuminating the deep hue at quayside. It was an ocean blue, the kind of color I only see when I’m cruising offshore, where the fathom depths have commas. It was opulent. And it set the stage for all that followed on this sporty cruiser built in Sarnico, Italy. The 66’s lines, inspired by the builder’s 76’ Perseo, have movement. The yacht seems to run while sitting still. This visual accomplishment is in part thanks to an aggressive bow design. Her entry is like a fillet knife: fine and honed to teach the sea a lesson when it acts up. Gleaming stainless-steel rails wrap around the yacht, complementing the straight-edge sheer line from bow to stern. The stainless steel also accents the hull color while adding to the yacht’s sinewy, athletic appearance.
She’s set up as a flybridge yacht yet appears more of an express cruiser at first glance. Her profile is set low thanks to that sheer line, and she has nearly full-length hullside glass with a raked hardtop, making her reminiscent of a sprinter set in the blocks, itching for the starter gun to go off.
And the gun went off.
Twin 1,550 hp MAN diesels in a V-drive setup roared to life as my test 66’ Ribelle got up and out quickly. She tracked true, and she felt stable and effortless as we cruised across a placid Gulf of Napoule. As the engines spooled up to 2,320 rpm (within 20 rpm of their rating), she hit an average 36.8-knot top-end, which is just 0.2 knots shy of her builder’s projected wide-open-throttle speed. Cruise speed was 31.5 knots at 2,000 rpm, within 1.5 knots of the builder’s 33-knot expected number. My test 66’ Ribelle was fully loaded: 1,004 gallons of fuel, 188 gallons of water and a dozen people on board. The yacht’s full-load displacement is 102,515 pounds.
At wide-open throttle, those MAN diesels burned about 160 gph. Considering a 10 percent reserve, the yacht’s fuel capacity gives the 66’ Ribelle a 207 nm range at top speed. At cruise, the motors consume 120 gph, increasing range to 237 nautical miles. Drop the throttles back to 1,800 rpm, and the 66 makes 28 knots while the diesels consume 99 gph, increasing range to 255 nautical miles.
But this vessel is about driving, not long-range voyaging. It’s a 66-foot-long sports car on the sea, a design approach that makes sense when you consider that Piero Ferrari (yes, that Ferrari) was involved in the creation process, along with Officina Italiana Design and the Ferretti Group’s engineering department. The yacht runs like she is being chased. She carves S-turns like an Olympic slalom skier, and she offers serious driving thrills.
I drove her from the lower helm, which is to port and forward of the salon. There’s a bench seat for two, but given the boat’s agility, I liked standing and feeling the movement under my feet. An electric hatch overhead opened when fresh air was desired. Single-lever MAN controls fell right under the palm of my right hand as I eased the throttles forward. A MAN-Böening integrated monitoring system provided vital engine data on flush-mounted displays, with the helm console framed in stainless steel.
The 66’ Ribelle planed easily. Her steering was real-time responsive, and the yacht had a moderate inboard heel on hard-over turns. She has beefy mullions in the corner of the raked hardtop that restrict visibility when turning hard over, but the flybridge helm has clean sightlines in all directions.
Inside, the yacht’s interior is luxurious. High-end leathers from Penelopeoggi and Mastrotto work in concert with richly toned mahogany, stainless-steel accents, and light-tone upholstery from Mariaflora, creating a contemporary, inviting style. House-length windows, a cockpit door that disappears belowdecks, and 6-foot-7-inch salon headroom bring in light and create a sense of spaciousness.
Low-back, L-shaped salon seating to starboard keeps guests within earshot of the helmsman while offering unobstructed views of the sea. An electric high-low table adjusts for morning coffee, lunch or afternoon cocktails. With the cockpit door stowed, the space from the transom sun pad to the helm becomes an indoor-outdoor entertainment zone.
The 66’ Ribelle is arranged for cruising families, with three staterooms and three heads. The master is full-beam amidships with 6-foot-7-inch headroom and an en suite head, and offers ocean views out the hullside windows that flank the centerline berth. A settee is to port for time on the hook with a book.
The forepeak VIP has a step-up berth and en suite head, and the third guest stateroom is abaft the VIP to port, with twin berths and an en suite head. This third head also acts as the day-head with companionway access.
As sleek as the Riva 66’ Ribelle’s exterior looks, her interior is equally impressive, perhaps rivaled only by the yacht’s performance on the salt. She is a chic sport cruiser with a thoroughbred’s heart.
The Riva 66’ Ribelle’s foredeck sun-pad space measures about 75 square feet, ensuring that everyone on board has a spot to catch some rays or enjoy sundowners on the hook.
Ship to Shore
This yacht’s transom garage accommodates a Williams Sportjet 345. The Sportjet measures 11 feet 3 inches length overall, has a 5-foot-8-inch beam and fits five guests on board. Power is a 90 hp BRP Rotax ACE engine, and top speed is about 40 knots. Additionally, the tender garage can house a Seabob.
For those looking for a nearly roll-free ride on the 66’ Ribelle, a Seakeeper 9 gyrostabilizer is available.