Riviera 41 Open Flybridge Convertible

This Aussie nicely balances fishing and cruising requirements to please the angler who wants it all.

riviera41445.jpg

I had been looking forward to a sea trial aboard Riviera's new 41-foot convertible since plans for her development were announced last year. I had reviewed the 40 in 2001 and 42 in 2004, so my expectations were high.

I found the new 41 dockside at Riviera's U.S. service facility. She offers cruising and fishing amenities in equal portions. Her profile is crisp and clean but not in a conservative tournament-boat fashion. Her curves are less aggressive and reflect the European influence that has seeped into American design in the past decade. Our test boat was fish-ready with Rupp outriggers and a factory half-tower and fiberglass hardtop. Serious anglers will likely ditch the standard swim platform and opt for a fighting chair and a teak cockpit sole.

The cockpit has three in-sole hatches with positive locking latches. Two fish boxes can be fitted with removable liners and plumbed with electric drain pumps. A third one on the centerline provides access to the tank top and limited access to the lazarette. The transom door has a hefty positive-locking latch and a lift gate. Those who swim or dive will appreciate the thoughtfully located freshwater hand shower. There are also freshwater and raw-water wash down taps. Lockers beneath the coaming would be useful for storing cleaning gear. Our test boat had rod holders in the covering boards and on the ladder and bridge rails. An integral transom livewell has a viewing port, which could provide amusement if the fishing were slow.

The bulkhead console has a top-loading freezer and a small bait prep area with a sink. The molded-in cockpit lighting will please those who fish or entertain after dark and the stereo remote is a tip of the hat to cruisers. The cockpit's perimeter drain system discharges at the transom and has a flapper for backing down. The cockpit sole may be removed for access to the fuel tank and exhaust tubes. Molded-in steps at the cockpit sides allow comfortable access to the side decks, and handrails make the passage forward secure. The foredeck has an appropriate helping of nonskid, and the integral pulpit is loaded with a 45-pound anchor and 180 feet of 5/16 galvanized chain. Hatches allow access to the divided anchor locker (line/chain) and a freshwater tap for tidying up ground tackle.

The 41's bridge has a good bit more space than you might expect to find on a convertible her size-a good example of the fish/cruise balance in Riviera's designs. There is a wet bar with a refrigerator, as well as L-shape seating and bench seating forward. The helm console is sensibly organized and has room enough for three large electronics displays and a handful of smaller items. The Edson wheel is angled sport yacht style, and the electronic controls are near at hand. Line of sight forward across the bow and aft into the cockpit is excellent. The handrail in the hardtop will be appreciated in a seaway.

| | |

Like most builders of production boats, Riviera has upgraded its interior fit and finish in recent years. There is far more "timber" as the Aussies call it-in our case, high-gloss cherry. Teak is available in a satin finish. Faux teakand- holly soles in the entryway, the raised dinette area and the galley add to the upscale effect. An L-shape sofa aft has a pull-out berth and stowage within. A refrigerator and fitted stowage for glass and bottles are a few steps away. A 26-inch flat-panel TV sits on a counter-top just above the dinette.

The galley is a step down from the saloon and has solid-core counter tops with inserts to cover the stainless steel sink, cook-top and waste receptacle. The dualvoltage refrigerator/freezer is rather small, so those intending to cruise will find the cockpit freezer very useful. The microwave/ convection oven is mounted on the bulkhead, and our test boat was fitted with a drawer-style dishwasher. A washer/dryer is located in a cavern beneath the galley. A hatch and ladder allow access but it's a tight fit.

The guest cabin has two single berths that tuck beneath the raised dinette area. This leaves headroom a bit short over the berth(s) but is typical fare for a two cabin/ two head convertible this size. A unique pullout cross-over upper berth is ideal for those who cruise with a crowd. The master cabin is forward and has an island queen with lifttop storage, two small lighted hanging lockers, private access to the master head with a separate stall shower. A second head/shower is accessible from the passageway.

| | |

We conducted our sea trial on the St. Lucie River in calm conditions. Our test boat's pair of 540-hp Cummins made her faster than both of her older sisters, which is the trend in the convertible market. However, she is not a racehorse compared to some competitors and other boats in Riviera's line. I recorded a top speed of 31.4 knots and a respectable 28.1 knots at 2400 rpm. With fewer turns and owner's gear aboard, I anticipate a comfortable cruise of 25 knots, placing you within three hours of the Bahamas from South Florida, given good conditions.

Though the conditions were not challenging, the 41 reminded me of the 40-one of the more capable designs I have run in snotty weather. That boat was one of the first of a new series of Frank Mulder hull designs that now serve as the standard. A relatively moderate entry, with straight sections, transitions aft to a deadrise of approximately 15 degrees at the transom. Moderate propeller pockets trim draft to 3 feet, 8 inches. The maximum beam of 15 feet is generous in terms of interior space but not at the expense of performance. Her specifications list a dry weight of 30,100 pounds- helpful given her relatively conservative horsepower.

If you love cruising and/or fishing, the 41 is a solid choice. Her features are well balanced and she offers respectable and affordable performance. Her base price of $771,796 is proportionally more than previous Rivieras but her specification and outfitting have moved upscale as well. She is more sophisticated than the 40 and the 42 from just a few years past and is competitive with other similarly equipped designs.

Contact: Riviera Yachts of the Americas, 772-403-1060; www.rivierayachtsinc.com.