Riviera 58 Flybridge Convertible Review

Issue: October 2002
Manufacturer: Riviera

More than three decades ago Bill Barry Cotter followed his dream and began producing hand-built timber cruisers at a small facility in NSW.

Bill and The Riviera Group, which also build the Mariner range, have come a long way since those heady days 36 years ago. And while he now builds boats in Queensland, these days he has the help of more than 400 hand picked employees. And it’s all done in an impressive 240,000 sq. ft. purpose-built facility in the Coomera marine precinct on the Gold Coast.

It is the largest boat-manufacturing factory in Australia and uses the latest Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture (CAD/CAM) technology to produce hi-tech boats that are second-to-none and well respected on the world stage.

Talk to Riviera owners and they will tell you that once you’ve owned a Riv’ you don’t go out and buy another brand, you upgrade to the latest Riviera model.

Personally, the Riviera 37 Flybridge is the ideal boat for my style of fishing, size of family and bank balance “if I won the lottery that is” but I can dream of owning a multi-purpose vessel that is as much at home chasing “granders” around Lizard Island, as it is entertaining guests on Sydney Harbour.

Of all the dreamboats the team have reviewed during the last 12 months, the new Riviera 58 Flybridge Convertible is the most versatile. Why ? Because it was designed for cruising as well as chasing the big ones. And it does both jobs perfectly.

The boat has an overall length of 64′ 5″, including bowsprit and marlin board, a beam of 17′ 9″, a dry weight of 30,000kg and sleeps eight.

What about price ? Well, you’ll need $2 million plus to become the proud owner of one of these beauties. But everything is relative and it’s a bit like asking how much does the fuel cost to run her. If you have to ask you can’t afford her.

The new Riviera 58 was unveiled in a ceremony at the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast, before more than 150 Australian and international guests and dealers in May. Now, with 12 orders already on the books, the boat’s acceptance onto the world market is assured.

This is the largest luxury production cruiser manufactured in Australia and, according to Riviera, she is one of the best designed, highest quality, luxury cruisers on the world market today. And after spending a few hours on board the team tends to agree.

The research and development that went into her creation represents the highest level of thinking and design. The boat’s exceptional hull was designed in collaboration with Europe’s leading designers and naval architects and involved extensive tank testing in England.

This new Riviera hull was extensively flow tested in a laboratory to enhance both its performance and planing speed with the designer of some of the world’s finest super yachts, Frank Mulder, playing a major role in the boat’s development.

The result is a luxury craft built to handle Australia’s extreme conditions with the ability to make long distance passages.

To give readers some idea of what this boat is capable of during sea trials the boat hit a top speed of 39 knots. That’s not bad for a 64 footer.

The twin 1400hp diesel Cats under the hood obviously helped the boat’s top-end speed, but it’s still an indication of just how well the hull has been designed to reduce drag, generate lift and plane effortlessly.

Weighing-in at more than 30,000kg, the 58 delivers a rock solid ride in all conditions. The hull also retains a level-planing attitude even when climbing out of the hole, which it does extremely quickly. The bow’s sharp entry makes short of a head sea, while the hull’s large down-turned chines force spray down and away from the hull, delivering a dry ride.

At the transom the hull can be described as a cathedral design, which gives the shafts a flatter angle and puts the five-blade props in mini tunnels for better bite on the water.

This boat tracks straight, even in a following sea, without demonstrating any tendency to broach and turns as if she was on rails.

From a fisherman’s perspective the 58 can only be described as an ideal fishing platform, especially if you’re into game fishing.

The aft cockpit is a massive 4m x 3m. There’s more than enough room to mount a game chair for heavy tackle fishing and still have enough room left over in which to hold a square dance in.

The teak decking is flat, as are the gunwales and transom and the transom door is wide enough to pull a “grander” through. Although these days we would expect all anglers would release such a magnificent creature.

Outside the fully enclosed flybridge is the second helm station for use during close-quarter manoeuvring, or when fighting big fish. The skipper can stand facing aft during the fight, easily manoeuvring the boat to keep the rod tip pointed at the fish at all times and ready to back up and regain line when possible.

There’s also a short, moulded, shade-cover above the aft cockpit, so the crew can shelter out of the sun while waiting for a strike, but it still doesn’t impede the skipper’s view once the action begins.

The aft cockpit also features pop-up cleats, so they won’t snag fishing lines. There’s also an insulated kill tank and three storage compartments in the cockpit floor.

The transom and gunwale walls are all fitted with storage lockers and there’s a sink unit and fridge to port against the rear saloon bulkhead.

Gunwales are not overly high, but an angler can still brace against them while stand-up fishing.

Other features include deck wash, live bait tank and an aft cockpit video camera, so the skipper can keep his eye on the action from inside the flybridge.

Stepping through the sliding aft saloon door is like walking into the foyer of a five-star hotel. The saloon features luxurious leather lounges, heavily varnished cherrywood panels and joinery, deep pile beige carpets, mood lighting, a superb Bose sound system, DVD, flat plasma TV, wet bar and a fully featured galley in which any chef would feel at home. There’s even a garbage compactor, washing machine and dryer.

Three steps lead down to the companionway that accesses the staterooms. Suffice to say these are also five star and luxuriously finished, with plenty of storage, hanging lockers and en suites.

The guest’s stateroom is in the bow, while the owner’s cabin sits amidships to take advantage of the boat’s beam.

On the starboard side, behind the guest’s stateroom, is a roomy twin-bunk cabin and a smaller crew’s cabin. These cabins, the saloon and the flybridge are all air-conditioned.

The fully enclosed flybridge could be described as a second saloon, it is that roomy. It features an L-shaped lounge to starboard and a wet bar and sink unit to port.

Vast areas of tinted glass offer full 360-degree views to all points, while the complete Raymarine electronics package and full instrumentation will keep even the most electronics hungry skipper happy.

But it was the helm and navigator’s chairs that really impressed all of the Modern Boating team.

Both seats are imported from America and cost $10,000 each. They are fully adjustable, electronically operated and true centrepieces of the boat. To call them chairs is an injustice; they are thrones.

Access to the bow is via wide walkways down each side of the saloon. Grab rails on the saloon walls and a knee-high bowrail, extending all the way back to the cockpit, make moving forward safe. There is also plenty of room on the bow to stow a tender.

All-in-all this versatile flybridge cruiser is an excellent example of how far the Aussie boat building industry has come. The standard of finish and quality of fittings are all world class. This boat doesn’t just stand against imported models, it stands out among them.

The $2 million plus price tag might sound like a lot of money to some people, but show me a five star hotel, which is fully transportable, from which one can fish.

For a vessel with an overall length of almost 65′ and of this quality and versatility, the price tag is quite reasonable and extremely competitive.

The Riviera 58 Flybridge Convertible sets a new benchmark in flybridge cruisers. It’s also an excellent platform for rigging as a full-blown game fishing boat. 

Engine Room
The Riviera 58 Flybridge Convertible test boat was powered by twin 1400hp Caterpillar diesels, but the standard fitment is a pair of 900hp engines. According to Riviera, these engines should be capable of delivering a top speed around 30 knots, while a comfortable cruising speed would be 27 knots. But fully loaded the test boat had a top speed of 39 knots. A comfortable and more economical cruising speed would be in the mid 30 to 34 knot range. The 58 has fuel capacity of 4200 litres. Down in the engine room there is also ample room around each engine to carry out daily maintenance and routine servicing.

Story by Ian Macrae