Appeared in the April 2019 issue of Sea Magazine
The builder’s flagship combines luxury cruising elements with powerful engines and the large cockpit needed for some serious fishing.
Riviera started out building primarily convertible sportfishing boats. In recent years the Australian builder expanded its line to include sedans (SUVs), Sport Yachts, Enclosed Flybridge Cruisers and, now, Sports Motor Yachts. While many fish have been hooked from a Riviera over the years, and some owners use their boat primarily for fishing, many owners enjoy cruising too. To accommodate them, the new Sports Motor Yacht category is designed to facilitate multiple uses. The yachts combine the fishing prowess of a large battlewagon with comfortable spaces for cruising and entertaining. Eager to find out more about their newest category of boats, I headed down to Australia last year for the world debut of the 72 Sports Motor Yacht, the first and largest in this line.
As I approached the new Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht, its size and presence made a pronounced impression. Rounded parallelogram windows accent the hull beneath high forward bulwarks that curve gently aft. Matching black-tinted windshields align the main deck and the enclosed flybridge that towers above.
Fish & Play
Outriggers that angle into the sky and lack of a swim platform (one is optional) demonstrate the seriousness of its fishing capabilities. The 175-square-foot teak-covered cockpit deck is surrounded by a dozen rod holders, a lighted circulating baitwell with a window, extra tackle storage, and twin fish lockers. The chair was not installed yet, but the cockpit sole is reinforced to accommodate two fighting chairs. While well equipped for serious fishing, the cockpit is equally outfitted for entertaining. A console between the twin stairwells that lead to the mezzanine above contains a beverage cooler, twin electric grills and a foldup sink that conceals engine room access in its base.
Up the stairs the mezzanine is set up for dining and entertaining. A forward-facing settee has twin teak tables with space between them for convenient entry, but they can be combined to form one long table that can seat 10 people when deck chairs are added. A popup window provides easy pass-through to the galley and is fronted by pivoting barstools below. A portside door leads down to a cabin with a head, storage, an under-over washer/dryer and crew bunks. The proximity to the mezzanine makes this an excellent day head.
The engine room, with standing headroom, is entered either from this cabin or the cockpit door beneath the sink. Along the stairway, a well-thought-out hatch accesses the back of the galley garbage bin to allow for discreet trash removal.
Eager to get going on a blustery day filled with rain squalls, I made my way up to the Bridge Lounge via the internal stairway for our sea trial. Eight of us sat comfortably here, including Rob Scott, Riviera’s West Coast sales manager; Stephen Milne, Riviera’s director of brand communications; and some international dealers. The first thing I noticed was how easily we all fit in the pilothouse.
Riviera’s skipper, Mark, sat in the center. He had the wheel and multiple Garmin MFDs directly ahead. Controls are spread strategically around, including a console to the right with throttles, trim tabs, a joystick, autopilot and wiper actuators. All critical functions are in reach, and items needed regularly are easiest to access. A standard CZone system with multiple access points, including one at the helm, gives users control of temperature, lighting and more throughout the vessel.
Scott sat in the companion seat adjacent the helm and I sat forward to starboard, in a seat that is within conversational proximity to the helmsman, provides a great view out the windshield and allows for multiple sitting positions, partially thanks to its angled backrest. Occupants have room to put their feet up or they can face toward the center and join everyone else.
The rest of the test crew was seated around the aft settee and its table, all within easy earshot of the helm and with all-around views out the windows. As we got underway it was noticeably quiet, which made it difficult to tell how fast we were going without looking at the gauges. Decibel readings in the pilothouse were well under 68 (the level of normal conversation) even when the yacht reached 34 knots.
Optional twin MAN V12-1900 diesels with V-drives powered our test Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht. It was also equipped with the Seatorque BOSS system, which reduces vibration and noise. The system’s shafts are encased in a sealed tube and bathed in oil all the way from the engine couplings to the props. Rubber mounts inside the vessel and at the strut dampen vibration and allow thrust — all 3,800 hp on this model — to push directly on the vessel rather than pressing back against the engines.
On reciprocal runs to counter for current and wind, our top speed averaged 34.2 knots and peaked at an impressive 35.5. Cruising at 27 knots, 2000 rpm and 83 percent load, burned 130 gph for a range of 446 miles, based on 90 percent fuel capacity. At 10 knots, the vessel showed a range of 1,120 miles, exhibiting its ocean-passaging capabilities. An optional 396-gallon tank, to supplement the 2,378 gallons of standard tankage, would boost range further.
Lumpy conditions, an outgoing tide, and confused seas helped us find out how the boat handles as we headed outside the Gold Coast Seaway into some nasty-looking rollers. The steadiness and quietude of the 72 Sports MY made it seem like we were going slow, but we were slicing into the seas at 22 knots. Angling down the coast, the yacht moved easily and seemed ready to cruise safely all the way to Sydney despite the conditions. At faster than 25 knots a little spray hit us as the yacht plowed through the biggest rollers, but there was no slamming and it tracked steadily.
To test the optional Seakeeper gyro, we slowed to 13 knots and turned so the waves hit us nearly broadside. As the waves started pushing, we could feel the Seakeeper counter the roll and hold us upright. We were running at exactly the wrong angle, broadside to the waves, and the 72 was still steadily moving along and never rolled hard. I took the wheel, throttled up and made some turns across the wave tops. The handling felt solid despite the 6- to 8-foot rollers. I spun it around downwind and it settled in, gently surfing the wave backs at around 18 knots as we headed toward the docks.
Layout & Features
After we cleared the break wall, I went below to look around. High-quality furnishings, supple fabrics and gloss walnut timbers shined throughout. The spacious main salon features twin L-shaped seating/ dining areas for eight and a large fully equipped galley aft, which has equal access to the salon and the cockpit.
Accommodations include a full-beam master stateroom with a center king berth, a large VIP forward, a twin cabin to port that can be converted to a double, and a bunk room to starboard. The Presidential layout enlarges the master and replaces the bunk cabin with the master head.
Arriving at the marina we used the full steering station on the open aft upper deck to back into the slip. The captain has excellent visibility for docking from here, but it is also a great spot to control the boat during fishing action thanks to its outstanding view of the cockpit below. This station is complete with an EJS system from Twin Disk that drives variable-speed transmissions on both engines as well as hydraulic bow and stern thrusters. The EJS joystick spins, backs and maneuvers the boat eloquently without any jerking or lunging, giving this shaft-driven boat the benefits normally associated with IPS pods.
Other amenities include a foredeck crane davit where a large RIB can be cradled along the centerline of the deck. With the tender removed, this converts to a large seating area. Wide sidedecks with raised gunwales and rails provide safe passage, and a portside watertight door amidships connects to the galley, salon and the internal pilothouse staircase.
The Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht has a variety of quality features that make it a capable fishing boat and a proficient cruiser and entertainer. With a lighted baitwell and multiple rod holders, the cockpit is a great space for fighting fish but can just as easily be a dance floor or an alfresco cocktail party spot with fliptop wet bar and grill. The mezzanine has comfortable seating, direct access to the galley and the day head/crew cabin below, and excellent visibility aft toward the fishing action.
The foredeck can be used for entertaining; its seating and a dining table create an intimate spot to hang out away from the action. The main salon comfortably seats eight or more. The bridge lounge provides flexibility with seating there and on the open deck aft. Both flybridge areas provide spaces for guests to gather both while the boat is running and after the party has started.