Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht Reviewed

A versatile cruiser for the whole family.


he design philosophy behind the Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht is simple, if a touch unorthodox for the Australian boatbuilder. The company wanted to produce a motoryacht that could compete on luxury with its perennially sexy European competitors while still retaining Riviera’s rugged DNA. The result, as I found out during a sojourn to Sydney, Australia, is an interesting and versatile build that spans genres with aplomb, and that should appeal to yachtsmen of many stripes. My favorite part about this yacht (and, to be totally honest, one of my favorite features on any yacht I’ve seen recently) is the 72’s cockpit. It extends 4 feet beyond the cockpit on ­Riviera’s 68 Sports Motor Yacht. The 72 cockpit’s total of 286 square feet makes it feel massive for a vessel this size. And it’s well-suited to sports-oriented and entertainment-minded crowds. For diving and fishing, there’s an in-transom livewell and a tuna door that doubles as a dive door. A grill forward is ready to cook up whatever fish might flop onto the teak sole. The cockpit is two-tiered and has a mezzanine that’s a foot longer than the one on the 68, and that has twin tables and an aft settee. There’s also a wet bar with two swing-out stools forward. A television descending from the overhead to port begs for College GameDay or perhaps Finding Nemo, depending on your crew. In contrast to the yacht’s relatively rugged and typically Australian cockpit, the foredeck has a sophisticated, European feel. Stowaway carbon-fiber poles support a sunshade that protects three bench seats configured in a U shape, with insulated compartments for ice and drinks. There’s also space for a davit and a RIB by Brig, which is Riviera’s go-to manufacturer for dinghies. A stainless-steel Muir 4500 windlass handles anchor duties, while a Fusion stereo system can play Frank Sinatra up front, Iggy Pop in the cockpit and Prince in the interior.

riviera 72 sports
The yacht’s two-tiered cockpit offers passengers more than one way to play outdoors.Riviera

Like many Australian-built yachts, the Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht is made for owner-operators. Her engine room has 7 feet of headroom and stainless-steel handrails throughout, making the space easy to negotiate in a seaway. All the vessel’s systems are clearly labeled, and access to the optional twin 1,900 hp MAN V12s is commendable (two smaller options exist, MAN 1,800s and 1,550s). The engine room is accessed through a hatch in the mezzanine or through a crew cabin that houses a washer/dryer, breakers and a day-head. The crew cabin can also be used as stowage for rods, toolboxes and other supplies.

One feature from the propulsion setup that will make boat nuts happy is the Enclosed Shaft System from Seatorque. Metal tubes fully encase the prop shafts, reducing noise, drag and vibration, and increasing longevity and efficiency.

Indeed, the 72’s performance is one of her strongest suits. In the rolling swells off Sydney Harbour, she provided a solid and confidence-inducing ride. She has a hand-laid fiberglass hull that is solid below the waterline and foam-cored above. She accelerated from her recommended slow cruise of 12 knots up to 22 knots in 5 seconds, and so fluidly that I didn’t realize the speed had increased until I glanced at the speedometer. The top speed we saw was a rollicking 33.9 knots, and she cruised easily at 22.5 knots and 1,800 rpm, burning 105 gph. Even in the powerful following seas on the way back to the docks, she tracked true. At the helm, her SeaStar Solutions power-assist hydraulic steering was smooth and responsive. Three 24-inch Garmin screens provided clear and easy-to-read information.

Once the 72 is at anchor and it’s time to relax and make lunch or dinner, there is a galley aft in the salon with enough U-shaped counter space for two people to work without getting in each other’s hair. A pop-up TV is hidden in the galley’s forward bulwark and faces the salon, which has L-shaped seating to both sides. A charming detail is the foam within the settees. It’s softer farther back and harder up front, for better back support and comfort. That’s the level of refinement the builder sought to achieve with this yacht’s interior.

The thought that went into that foam also encapsulates what the 72 is all about. Yes, she is rugged. She can be fished hard or used as a dive boat, and I’d feel comfortable putting my family on her to travel from Sydney to New Zealand in open ocean. But she also has little touches, like that foam in the seating and the carbon-fiber sunshade poles, that add luxury far beyond the places where it might be expected. There are pleasant surprises most everywhere on this yacht, which is built to cruise most any place an owner can imagine.

riviera 72 sports
The Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht has lines that are at once masculine and elegant. Note how her windows contour the profile.Riviera

Sleep Like a King

The 72’s amidships master stateroom is built for comfort on longer voyages. It has a king-size berth, twin 6-foot-tall hanging lockers, and drawers to both sides of the mattress. A wine cooler just forward of the master stateroom, in the companionway, is a thoughtful detail. It’s the right place to put a favorite bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Keep the everyday bottles up top.

Sydney Sights

Our test of the Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht took place in and around Sydney Harbour. Sydney often ranks as one of the world’s best cruising cities, and for good reason. It’s a true metropolis, and like much of life in Australia, it’s centered around the water. The Sydney Opera House is of course the most famous landmark, but there’s also the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach, not to mention the eclectic styles of architecture that can be seen in the homes and buildings that line the waterways.

Riveting Riviera

Riviera’s factory is on Australia’s Gold Coast, in the heart of the country’s boating culture. The facility is one of the more memorable yards that buyers can visit, with a bar and restaurant nestled against a picturesque canal. It’s where many purchases happen.

Very Important Place

The 72’s VIP stateroom is forward and, like the master, has stowage for longer cruises. Six cabinets surround the berth, and there are twin 5-foot-tall hanging lockers. The en suite head has a shower (that was roomy enough for me to move my 200-pound frame around with ease). A bench seat is in the shower too.