BOAT REVIEW Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge Sláinte

January 2017 Launch Reviews
Words John Eichelsheim, images Bryce Taylor & Supplied
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge
DESIGNER Riviera Marine
BUILDER Riviera Marine
CONSTRUCTION GRP
PRICE AS TESTED $213,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 17.26M
BEAM 5.01M
DRAFT 1.4M
DISPLACEMENT 24960kg
ENGINE 2 x Volvo Penta D11 IPS950 725hp
FUEL CAPACITY 3500L
WATER CAPACITY 750L
HIGHLIGHTS
  • IPS 950s give flat fuel burn
  • Enclosed flybridge like another saloon
  • Two helm stations upstairs, plus a joystick in the cockpit
  • Light-filled interior
  • CZone convenience
  • Seakeeper gyro stabiliser
OBSERVATIONS
  • Riv 52 is a vessel of many levels
  • Electric cooking
  • Large well equipped galley
  • Seven fridge-freezers
  • Traditional cabin layout

While the Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge debuted in Australia, this model – one of the stars of October’s Auckland On Water Boat Show – is the first of a few that will be calling New Zealand home.


For owners Phil and Colleen Kenny, Sláinte, which means ‘cheers’ in Irish Gaelic, is their first motor launch. They’re both experienced and enthusiastic boaties, but until now they’ve stuck with trailer boats.

A 27-tonne motoryacht is a bit of a step up from a seven-metre trailer boat, but the pair are quickly coming to grips with the vessel and its systems, helped in no small way by the ongoing support of the team at R Marine Flagship.

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The Kennys love fishing, so that was a factor when choosing this boat, but they also appreciate its comfort and generous spaces, especially the enclosed flybridge which effectively provides an extra saloon where they can relax, enjoy the journey or entertain friends.

Unlike sedan launches, the Riv 52’s saloon is completely devoted to entertaining and relaxing. Since it doesn’t sacrifice any space to a helm station the layout makes the most of the available floor area with ample seating, a large saloon table, a retractable large-screen satellite TV, a digital entertainment hub and Bose speakers.

The Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge is a vessel of levels. Although the Kennys expect to do a bit of game fishing and have fitted game poles with that in mind, most of their fishing will be for more mundane species.

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The wide swim platform affords close access to the water for fishing and diving while twin transom doors ensure easy flow between the platform and cockpit. Removable railings keep people on the platform safe and also support the bait station/filleting table. Sláinte’s 3.8m Aquapro RIB tender is carried on a foredeck cradle from where its launched and retrieved by a Davco 350kg davit crane.

The cockpit is large without being immense – a good compromise between fishing and socialising – and the cockpit bimini provides plenty of shelter and shade. There’s comfortable seating, including across the transom, a large, moulded live bait tank, cockpit shower, wash down, a nicely polished cockpit table and plenty of under-deck stowage for additional seats etc.

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The outdoor galley, comprising a two-plate electric grill, double sink and refrigerator, is on the starboard side, handy for al fresco dining. A huge chest freezer across the cockpit bulkhead on the port side is big enough to hold any amount of supplies and there are large in-floor kill-tanks/wet lockers for the catch. There’s a third joystick control tucked away under a moulded cover on the port side.

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Sláinte’s galley is aft on the port side. Heavy-duty Mainship stainless and glass sliding doors and a large awning window that swings up to secure under the bimini, provide good communication between inside and outside, though they are separated by stairs. The main CZone panel is just inside the door for convenience while the main switchboard, emergency engine shut off and manual bilge pump are outside in lockers in the cockpit bulkhead where they’re easy to get to.

There’s a step up, too, between the galley and the saloon, which is reflected in the ceiling which also steps up to maintain generous headroom in the saloon.

The saloon’s big windows flood the saloon with light, especially with the rear doors and windows open. Upholstery, carpets and cabin linings are nicely neutral in colour, complementing light timber panelling. The floating staircase also contributes to the generally open layout on this level.

The vessel is air-conditioned throughout, but there’s good natural ventilation too thanks to sliding side windows. A C-shaped settee wraps around the saloon table on the port side with good sightlines through the windows.

Opposite, a bench settee with a pull-out central seat/ottoman that can be positioned anywhere in the saloon provides additional seating. Along the starboard side there’s a well-equipped bar area with a double bar fridge and a freezer – Sláinte has seven fridge/freezers scattered around the vessel, many of them drawer types.

Sleeping accommodation and the bathrooms are located below, down the companionway stairs. A wide landing features storage lockers and access to the three cabins, a guest cabin forward with a large island berth, the owners cabin to port with a king-size berth and generous ensuite bathroom and a good-sized twin-bed guest cabin to starboard.

All the cabins are well provided with storage, LED lighting and ventilation. There’s a washer-drier plus line storage in the starboard guest cabin and some clever work with floor and ceiling levels gives full standing head height on both sides of the bed in the master cabin. The shared bathroom is semi ensuite off the forward cabin, a common and practical layout.

Phil and Colleen can accommodate sleeping up to nine people in the cabins and saloon, with any extra kids sleeping on the flybridge.

The flybridge

It’s the star of the show. Featuring bright, fresh upholstery and removable marine carpet, it’s accessed by the internal stair and can be fully enclosed with clears to create another air-conditioned living space. When the weather’s good, removing the drop-covers, opening the skylights and sliding back the side windows expose the flybridge and rear lounge to the air. A rocket launcher across the back will store six rods.

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The flybridge offers plenty of space to relax, whether the boat’s underway or lying at anchor; in terms of floor space it’s almost as big as the saloon. From such an elevated position, vision is good in every direction and the flybridge is well-appointed for entertaining with a drinks fridge and wet bar.

The helm station is on the port side to accommodate the stairs to starboard; the stairwell can be closed off for safety. From the comfort of the twin helm seats all the controls fall nicely to hand. Riviera has had plenty of experience getting driving ergonomics right and vision from the helm is also excellent.

The helm console is well-designed. Three 17-inch Garmin MFDs dominate the dashboard, complemented by the CZone panel and other displays and controls. Cameras in the cockpit and engine room display on the Garmin MFDs while the bow camera takes the guesswork out of raising and lowering the anchor. Sláinte is equipped with 3D scan and sidescan sonar, so the big screens display some impressive pictures. Phil is looking forward to coming to grips with the technology and putting it to work.

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Conventional digital throttle and shift is supplemented by Volvo Penta’s joystick for precise vessel handling at low speed. A second helm station, fully featured with both conventional and joystick controls, is positioned to the rear of the flybridge on the aft deck to starboard. It’s perfect for docking or playing gamefish.

The Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge is powered by a pair of Volvo Penta D11 IPS 950 units, each producing 725hp. The engines are housed under the galley/saloon and accessed via a ladder under the stairs leading from the cockpit to the galley. Deck hatches provide inspection access to the IPS pod-drives which are linked to the engines by jack shafts.

The machinery spaces house all the usual stuff: watermaker, genset, inverter – the vessel is 240-volt throughout, except for a few 12v and USB receptacles scattered about – batteries, fuel and water tanks.

A large Seakeeper gyro stabiliser takes up a good chunk of the forward section of the engine room. It controls vessel roll, both when Sláinte is underway and when she is at rest. The Seakeeper helps compensate for the extra topweight of the flybridge and is complemented by Volvo Penta Trim Assist interceptor trim tabs that automatically adjust trim to combat roll when the boat is underway.

As we experienced with the Riviera 5400 a couple of months ago, the IPS pod drives deliver a very flat fuel burn. At cruising speed, which is around 23 knots for this vessel, total fuel burn is around eight litres per nautical mile, which is very respectable for a vessel of this size.

We had a lovely sunny day and little wind or sea to contend with, but the Riviera 52 is reportedly a comfortable traveller in most conditions. When underway she’s extremely quiet on the flybridge and there’s minimal vibration. She’s also quiet in the saloon, especially with the doors closed, and remarkably quiet out in the cockpit as well.

Phil parked the boat in his Westhaven berth using the joystick controls and swivelling pod drives to good effect. Despite minimal practice with the boat in close quarters, he docked without incident, illustrating the user-friendly nature of the controls.

Phil and Colleen are rapt with their new boat, which will spend some its time berthed at Omaha. They are looking forward to their first summer onboard. The couple’s US-based son is a keen gamefisher who can’t wait to get back home and climb aboard. Indeed, he had quite a bit of influence on the Kennys choosing a flybridge model for its superior fish-spotting ability! I suspect it won’t be long before Sláinte boats her first marlin.

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