Market differentiators in the burgeoning cruising catamaran market can be difficult to find, yet this is what industry leader Beneteau-Lagoon has achieved with its Excess models, which deliver a livelier and more responsive range.
- Luxury appointments
- Amazing joystick control with Twin Disc JTS
- Smooth, fast and quiet
- Offshore capable
- Versatile layout
- Gyro stabiliser enhances comfort
- Range, comfort and sea-keeping ability for extended cruising
The new 64 SMY takes the very best from Riviera’s largest luxury cruising yacht models and incorporates them in a more compact design. It’s smaller, but includes all the features that make the 72 and 68 SMY so outstanding.
Smaller it might be, but the 64 SMY is still a big vessel by any measure. High, wide and handsome, it benefits from Riviera’s latest styling philosophy, notably the large picture windows in the hull almost at water level. They give the vessel a distinctive look from the outside and offer unrivalled panorama views from inside.
Hull number one arrived in New Zealand in late June, on its way to its forever home in the USA. During its time here, the team at RMarine took the opportunity to introduce the new model to New Zealand customers and between viewings Boating NZ magazine stepped aboard for a quick run on the Waitemata Harbour.
This is an imposing vessel, the fully-enclosed flybridge towering above RMarine Flagship’s floating HQ at Westhaven. At night it glows like a small city with soft, natural feature lighting, including underwater lights that change colour on demand.
There’s a wide boarding platform and an attractive two-tier cockpit, the lower level naturally lending itself to active recreation such as fishing, diving and watersports. This vessel is game-rigged, including a transom-mounted live well and top-end hydraulic outriggers. A Seakeeper SK 16 gyro stabiliser in its belly ensures comfort and enhanced fishability in a seaway.
The lower cockpit includes a double fridge/freezer, electric BBQ and sink with built-in fishing tackle drawers and ample storage in the locker underneath. And elsewhere as well – under the floor, in moulded bins and dedicated lockers. With this latest Riviera you are spoiled for storage options, with every bit of space cleverly utilised.
A cockpit docking station on the port side supplements the main helm on the flybridge and a second station (with wheel and electronic throttle) on the flybridge’s rear deck, all of them featuring Twin Disc’s Express Joystick System (EJS). It integrates hydraulic stern and bow thrusters with Twin Disc Quick Shift digital control for shaft-driven vessels twin engines. Combined with Optimus variable rate steering, it provides unprecedented control and seamless operation at any speed.
The next cockpit level, which Riviera calls its mezzanine, is configured for relaxing and entertaining. Covered with ample seating and drop covers to keep out the weather if required, it’s a great place to relax while still being part of whatever is going on in the cockpit, or the saloon.
A hatch in the teak cockpit’s sole provides top-down access to the impressive engine room, which is remarkably spacious despite housing a pair of gleaming, chrome-embellished MAN 1550hp diesels, and further aft the stabiliser, genset, batteries, inverter, 280lph Sea Recovery water maker – as well as all the many other equipment items and ship’s systems one expects in a vessel of this size and quality. The main engine room access is via the utility room/crew cabin accessed via a door in the master stateroom amidships.
Home from home
Through the Mainship stainless steel and glass sliding doors, the saloon is equally divided between a gourmet-style aft galley opposite the bar/drinks area (including wine cooler) aft and a luxurious lounge forward. A large awning-style window ensures easy communication between galley and cockpit levels and a large screen TV emerges from the front of the galley at the push of a button.
Without the need to accommodate a helm station in the saloon, there’s more space available for seating and entertaining, so the saloon feels luxuriously spacious. The typical Riviera internal staircase to the flybridge takes up some space, but Riviera has designed it cleverly and no space is wasted, including under the stair where extra-long pullout drawers have been fitted.
A solid pentagraph door at the base of the stairs allows quick access to the foredeck from the helm – no need to go down to the cockpit and all the way around. The flybridge can be shut off from the saloon.
A variety of upholstery options are available, but this boat boasts a combination of fine leather and plush fabric, since it’s bound for the exhibition circuit in the USA. As such, it’s packed with factory extras and trimmed to show different options to potential buyers.
It’s hard to fault the detailing or the quality of fit and finish – in the saloon, or anywhere elsewhere onboard. The engine room, for instance, with its brilliant lighting, gleaming surfaces and logically laid out and labelled equipment is stunning. Riviera has constantly lifted its game in this respect, with each new model ratcheting up the quality.
A superbly polished teak saloon table, a similar coffee table and acres of glossy walnut cabinetry lend the interior a pleasingly traditional feel, but it’s not overwhelming thanks to the juxtaposition of light-coloured soft furnishings, carpet and timber floors, recessed LED lighting, large windows and the interior’s thoroughly modern colour palette. The full-length leather and chrome grab rail down the middle of the saloon ceiling looks the part – and it’s useful, too.
The galley’s twin sinks and wrap-around stone counter tops ooze luxury. Most of the appliances are top-quality Miele. There are two under-bench, double-drawer Vitrifrigio refrigerator-freezers, a waste disposal unit and ample galley storage in overhead lockers, a built-in pantry and under the benches. In Riviera’s normal fashion, the appliances, including the induction cooktop and cockpit BBQ/grill, are electric.
Luxury finishes abound below decks, where you can find four ‘staterooms’, three bathrooms and a utility room/crew cabin, depending on the option. Single berths feature in two of the cabins, stacked as bunks on the starboard side and side-by side in the port cabin, where they can be slid together if desired.
Both of these cabins have plenty of storage in walnut-trimmed, cedar-lined hanging lockers, drawers and overhead cabinets and share the day head on the port side of the companionway, the twin-single cabin enjoying semi-ensuite access. All the bathrooms are large, with separate shower boxes, stone-look floors and contemporary styling.
In the bow the VIP guest cabin features a generous island berth with storage under, double overhead hatches, twin hanging lockers and lots of polished walnut. The 64 SMY’s signature side windows ensure ample natural light and great views from all of the cabins.
Air-conditioning is available throughout the vessel, with different zones allowing individual temperature control. CZone looks after the vessel’s electrical systems, providing dozens of programmable modes for night operation, quiet ship, anchorage, dockside and the like.
The sumptuous full-beam owners’ cabin has the king bed positioned slightly to port with a chaise/daybed under the port picture window and walnut console beneath the starboard window. A large TV occupies the wall opposite the foot of the bed. As with the other cabins, locker space is generous, even more so here, with lots of drawers and plush finishes including suede leather on the bedhead.
The ensuite bathroom has a shower easily big enough for two, with a handy teak-trimmed shower seat and gleaming, easy-clean surfaces. The bathroom also provides access to a large utility room/workshop with the washer and dryer, fishing rod storage, work bench and storage lockers galore. This space can also be configured as a self-contained crew cabin.
The main engine room access is via the utility room, a massive dogged hatch opening onto the pristine, well-lit machinery space dominated but not crowded by the V12 MANs. With full head height ceilings and ample floor area, there’s access to every inch of the space, which should make routine checks and ongoing maintenance a breeze.
The flybridge is like another saloon. Fully enclosed with a separate teak rear deck complete with wet bar and third helm station through the sliding doors aft, it is just as plush and at least as comfortable as the saloon below. Featuring hardwood floors, polished walnut timber panelling and luxurious L-shaped seating arranged in two seating modules side-by side, it can easily accommodate a party.
With parties in mind, the flybridge has its own drinks fridge and large screen TV. One of the loungers converts to a comfortable double berth, providing additional guest accommodation and somewhere for the skipper to rest during a night watch or a long passage – this vessel easily has the range and ability to cross oceans.
The helmsman sits amidships in one of two luxurious, leather-clad electric helm seats, a stylish wrap-round helm console filling two-thirds of the space under the raked windscreens. Three Raymarine 23-inch MFDs dominate the fascia and three wipers keep rain off the windows. A huge electric sunroof (with insect and sunscreens) opens the flybridge to the sky with sliding side windows for additional ventilation. Another awing window opens to the aft deck.
Smooth & quiet
As you’d expect, the big V12 MANs provide effortless performance. Less expected was how quiet and smooth they are. Up on the flybridge it was eerily quiet, especially with the rear door closed.
Smoothness is a big part of the driving experience with this vessel, from fluid, no-clunk gear engagements to the ability to creep up the fairway at just a few knots. Acceleration is strong, though in such a big, quiet boat there’s not much sense of it until you look down at the water racing past.
Interrupter trim tabs automatically adjust the hull’s angle of attack for optimum performance, comfort and fuel consumption, also controlling heel in sharp turns. Progressive steering stiffens up nicely as boat speed increases, but steering is finger-light at low speeds.
Full of fuel and water we cruised through the chop at a serene 25 knots, barely feeling any effect from the sea conditions. Opening the throttles saw us touch 32.5 knots on the GPS, which is impressive for a vessel weighing over 45 tonnes fully laden. It’s fast, but not fast enough to drag off American Magic’s Dean Barker in Defiant, who ran us down easily, passing through our wake just a few metres astern. I reckon we were drier and more comfortable, though.
The big MANs are fuel-efficient too, offering up to 20% better economy than some equivalent marine diesels, according to RMarine. At 8-10 knots, the Riviera 64 SMY has the range to travel across the Tasman Sea or motor up to the Pacific Islands without refuelling. Riviera offers a five-year warranty on engines and drives.
The Express Joystick System provides amazing control at slow speeds and makes docking child’s play. Providing thrust in any direction in proportion to how much pressure you apply to the joystick, it allows you to fix the boat in position, point the vessel’s bow anywhere you wish without moving anywhere, crab the vessel in any direction, rotate it through 360° and even slip it sideways. That’s how we berthed at the end of our session, slipping sideways in the face of a stiff cross breeze to lightly kiss the dock./>