Riviera's Sweet Little Cruiser

The Riviera 39 Sport Motor Yacht is a versatile cruiser with a sturdy ride.

39 Sports Motor Yacht
Standard power for the 39 Sports Motor Yacht is twin 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS600s.Courtesy Riviera Boats

I've had the pleasure of testing Riviera's 68 and 72 Sports Motor Yachts in the past, and I found both vessels to be fine examples of what Riviera does best: mix interior luxury with fun outdoor spaces and confidence-inducing hulls. Thus, I was looking forward to taking the 39 Sports Motor Yacht for a spin — though I wondered if Riviera would be able to replicate the aplomb I saw in the larger yachts, this time in a significantly smaller package.

I stepped aboard the 39 last summer in Sydney, Australia. This little sister shares much DNA with Riviera’s larger Sports Motor Yachts. If you couldn’t guess from the name, the vessel is meant to be a hybrid between a rugged SUV and a luxury-minded motoryacht, with styling that includes finely stitched leather on the seating and steering wheel. The interior styling is reminiscent of Italian and other European builds, but with more headroom at the helm. It’s just shy of 6 feet, meaning most captains will be able to stand, something that’s not possible on every European build in this class.

The 39 Sports Motor Yacht has a galley aft, for serving the salon and cockpit with equal ease. The salon can be ordered with or without a lower helm station, which is located to port (in addition to the flybridge helm). A nice touch is the soft-close drawers in the galley with Riviera-monogrammed cutouts for the plates and cups, so everything stays snug should the water turn snotty.

Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht
That’s the LOA of the 39. Her layout has a feng shui that transitions well from the salon to the galley aft to the cockpit. A flip-up window and a glass door further connect the cockpit.Courtesy Riviera Boats
Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht
The Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht’s cockpit is designed for fishing, diving and entertaining. This model has 83 square feet of space in that area, as well as ­joystick controls for docking.Courtesy Riviera Boats
Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht
Height is a key, but sometimes overlooked, design element aboard boats. Five feet, 10 ½ inches of headroom at this helm means many captains can stand while driving, and the salon seats are high enough that guests can see out of the salon windows from all angles.Courtesy Riviera Boats

And when the seas do rise up, this yacht is ready for the rough stuff. On test day, I powered the boat through Sydney Harbour, past the majestic headlands and out into open water. There, the Pacific Ocean tossed 6- to 7-foot rollers our way. The 39 was ready for them. Her hand-laid hull was solid as we crested the swells, and it landed softly in the deep troughs. I cruised her at 15 knots into the head sea, and took her back in at 22 knots in the ­following sea with no hint of surfing down the ­faces. The builder says the boat can do 34 knots on the pins, though I didn’t feel comfortable pushing the throttle all the way down in a boat of this size in those conditions — she wasn’t mine, after all.

Belowdecks, the standard layout has two staterooms and one head. The master is forward, and the guest stateroom is amidships. The latter has three twin berths, a layout that should appeal to growing families.

With her combination of well-thought-out aesthetics and design features, along with a ride that’s as solid as they come for a vessel in this class, the 39 Sports Motor Yacht offers a lot for her length overall. She might even make her big sisters jealous.

Take the next step: rivieraaustralia.com