BOAT REVIEW Riviera 72 Flybridge SMY

January 2019 Launch Reviews
Build Quality
MODEL Riviera 72 Flybridge SMY
DESIGNER Riviera/Mulder Design
BUILDER Riviera Australia
CONSTRUCTION Hand-laid GRP, foam-core topsides, solid GRP keel, longtudinals and structural areas
PRICE AS TESTED $5,600,000
LOA 12.68M
ENGINE 2 x 1800hp MAN V12
Maximum Speed 35 knots
Cruise Speed 24 knots
ACCOMMODATION Various cabin layout options; four cabins as reviewed.
  • Sheer presence
  • Interior design and decor
  • Seakeeper Gyro Stabiliser
  • Effortless cruising and fingertip control
  • Long range capable

Riviera’s winning formula of building ocean-ready sports motor yachts is well-illustrated with its new 72 Flybridge.

The attractions of a flybridge are several and top among them for Pacific boats is the commanding view of our coral-strewn coastlines. Luxury builder Riviera has gone further by creating a complete living space on the new 72 that even includes a bed – talk about room with a view.


The latest in the Australian company’s new Sports Motor Yacht (SMY) collection, the 72 offers more space and a new tweaked hull while still showing off those famous curves and bold sheer that defines a Riviera.
These yachts are intended as bluewater adventure boats and come with long range capability – our review boat can do more than 2,000 miles in displacement mode – and has levels of self-sufficiency to match. Also, many systems are duplicated or can be over-ridden – ideal for those long Pacific sojourns.
The company exports most of the 100 boats built annually – this third hull is destined for the USA and several more are going to New Zealand.
Versatility is a major part of the SMY range, says company owner Rodney Longhurst. “All of the owners we spoke with wanted a new style of motor yacht. Their dream is a bluewater yacht that combines speed, sport fishing and other water sports capabilities with the confidence of high bulwark side decks, a foredeck entertainment centre, fully-enclosed flybridge with internal stairs, a covered mezzanine dining area and ultra-luxurious interiors. The SMY collection delivers comprehensively.”

As I boarded his words were evident in items like the hydraulic outriggers that towered over the vast aft deck – only a fighting chair is needed to complete the Hemingway-esque fit-out. Going astern is a significant part of game fishing so in keeping with this the 72 has a relatively small swim platform (to reduce drag), while up high in the flybridge the outside controls allow the skipper to watch both the fish and the fisherman.

This setup works equally well for other activities, thanks to dual transom doors, wet bar and grill beside the steps up to a sheltered inner cockpit dining area. All are finished in teak. Teak is hard to beat when the sun bears down on bare feet and it’s welcome on the swim platform and all walking spaces. Practicalities also abound, including four large deck hatches.
The outer two provide storage or fish bins while the inner two provide access to the aft lazarette and the steering system. Starboard and port fairleads in the aft quarter coaming allow mooring lines to be fed to large cleats (and optional electric capstan winches for easy dockside manoeuvring).
The bow’s equally well-appointed, thanks to a spacious sunken entertaining area with seating for eight, or at least when an optional Williams jet tender or RIB, which shares this space, is not in place. It’s moved via a single hydraulic davit arm capable of lifting 550kg. The area can also be covered with a fold-away bimini – an ideal space at anchor for sun worshippers or for savouring a drink after a day’s cruising.

Deep storage lockers can contain all cushions and backrests for this area, while protected from the elements. The rode includes a quality 80kg Ultra anchor sitting below a stainless steel, self-loading bow roller on the bowsprit. It’s connected via a swivel to 100m of 13mm galvanised chain, stored in an anchor locker on the starboard side of the foredeck. The vertical anchor windlass is controlled through a hand-held remote or remote control from the flybridge.
Three helm stations
All navigation takes place in the flybridge reached via inside stairs and, if glorious seclusion is your fancy, there’s a door that seals the area off; also useful for restraining small children when at sea. This large space is really a separate lounge and al fresco dining area with navigation done at the forward section, along with remote helm stations at the back of the flybridge and cockpit below.

Comfortable and premium-quality Norsap leather seats dominate the console area and tall windows give confidence at the helm. The tall headroom can be enhanced by opening the electronic sunroof while a sturdy ceiling handrail guides you fore and aft – a high boat like this will invariably roll at sea.
These are the kind of things, I find, that differentiate Riviera from brands which sometimes emphasise style over practicalities; something I appreciated when I took this boat offshore in steep swells.
At the console the skipper is on the centreline of the vessel so can judge both sides equally and see aft easily (with cameras enhancing the lower views aft). The console is dominated by a row of three, 24-inch Garmin Glass Bridge navigation screens; ideal for large format views of charts, radar, cameras and sonar. Engine and system monitoring is done from two proprietary central screens (for the CZone digital system and its easy error-checking, and the MAN diesels).
Control of the engines and fore and aft thrusters is on the right. The Twin Disc joystick-transmission is the key instrument for slow maneuvering. Its controls are in two remote stations in addition to this main console. Other essentials at hand included windlass control and fuel cut-offs nearby as well. Comprehensive, yet not overly fussy.

For diligent skippers there’s also a fold-out double bed secreted under the aft lounge. Flybridge guests are equally well taken care of. A stainless steel framed glass door and awning window overlooks the flybridge which has a large aft deck and al fresco dining area with an L-shape seating, as well as space for two stand-alone dining chairs.
A wet bar on the port side includes a solid surface bench top, stainless steel sink with mixer tap, an ice maker, drawer fridge and drawers for glass storage. There’s even a small watertight battery box inside the wet bar unit to give emergency power for the electronic navigation and control systems in the flybridge.

Midship owner’s cabin
For rest, you step down through the forward saloon to the accommodation corridor. The saloon is purely for relaxing – it’s kitted with thick neutral-coloured cushioned benches on three sides and two different tables – a coffee one and a taller dining table. The raked forward windows let just enough sun in while the vertical side ones give views without the rays. The adjoining galley bulkhead houses an elevating television and four-zone hi-fi.

A U-shaped galley is extensively fitted with deep, double sinks surrounded by work tops. There’s a four-burner induction electric stove with a large microwave convection oven and a dishwasher; plus sea views aft to inspire the chef. Perishables can go in the four-drawer refrigerators and twin freezers.
Forward of the galley on the starboard side is a liquor cabinet with recessed holders for bottles and glasses. For those longer trips, the Bosch washing machine with separate dryer is available in the crew quarters. Outside of the galley is a handy bar with stools for sundowner time.

Down below, the main owner’s cabin uses the 72’s full 6m beam to locate the berth aft while the bow has the main guest cabin, with two smaller ones between. Alternatively, the Presidential layout has three cabins and large longitudinal bathroom ensuite, creating an enlarged owner’s berth which includes a lounge area.
The owner enjoys a king-size bed, a feature headboard and bedside tables with leather in-lays and ample storage underneath. There are his/hers cedar-lined hanging wardrobes on either side of the stateroom and a 40-inch TV and home theatre system with five surround-sound speakers. Airflow felt good thanks to opening portholes and fixed hull windows for natural light.

The stylish guest stateroom forward includes a walk-around queen-size bed with storage beneath and wardrobe space either side, outboard cupboards with positive locking doors (an excellent Riviera feature), a premium entertainment system and a private ensuite.
Sweeping hull windows are an eye-catching feature and will draw in natural light. An overhead hatch offers fresh air as well as privacy when the Oceanair screen is slid across. The port cabin aft of the guest stateroom has twin single beds which can, at the touch of a button, form a double as the inboard bed slides across.
A bedside table with leather in-lays is a feature of both configurations and there is a cedar-lined hanging wardrobe and even more storage outboard and under the beds. The Classic layout includes an additional fourth guest cabin with pullman-style beds, cedar-lined hanging wardrobe and bedside table. These two cabins share a bathroom located on the port side, forward of the twin cabin.
My only quibble is the high-gloss varnish finish which will require constant polishing to avoid finger marks – not my choice. Apart from the beautiful walnut on our review boat there’s cherrywood or wenge finishes as well.
Optimised hull
The hull has a fine entry with plenty bow flare to minimise spray, while underneath chines give directional stability as the aft section flattens behind the keel to promote planing. Propellers are housed in tunnels to minimise drag and the 6.0m beam is wide enough to cope with heavier loads required for bluewater cruising.
Hull designs were tank-tested at the Wolfson Institute Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Dynamics at the University of Southampton in England. In designing the hull, Riviera partnered with naval architects Mulder Design in the Netherlands – designers of three of the fastest superyachts in the world.
The hull is built to CE standards, obligatory given that over 50% of the company’s sales are overseas. America’s the major market but Europe is now firmly in Riviera’s sights. Construction is hand-laid fibreglass with foam core topsides and solid fibreglass on the keel, longitudinals and other key structural areas.

Engine room entry is from a midships door in the aft cockpit which leads to a staircase, or from forward. Here also is the day head and shower with adjacent single crew bunk. Stepping through the heavy watertight door reveals a gleaming engine space with wide walkway between the twin MAN V12 1900hp turbo-diesels.
Power delivery to the V-shafts is via Twin Disc remote-mounted Quickshift gearboxes that integrate with the Express Joystick System. Mechanical noise is minimised by the use of Aquamet 22 Sea Torque oil-filled shafts and Veem five-axis CNC-cut propellers utilising Interceptor technology (an adjustable pitch edge on each blade). Further noise and pollution reduction is aided by the wet exhaust, so all emissions are under water. Two power options are offered – twin MAN V12 1800hp (standard) or 1900hp.
Elsewhere in the spacious engine room, backup systems abound, such as twin generators, both AC and DC water pumps and manual over-rides for systems such as steering and a new version of the digital CanBus CZone system. Two Onan generators – a main 27.5kW/50Hz and auxiliary 13.5kW/50Hz – ensure plenty of power at anchor. Stabilisers are not a big feature of Riviera, found on only 50% of boats ordered so far, but our review boat had one: a Seakeeper 16 Gyro.
Gold Coast seaway
Southport’s Runaway Bay marina is a tight berthing spot for a 72-footer, especially one that generates lots of windage, and our day came with a strong wind warning. The plus side of this boat is a deep, six-foot hull along with 47 tons that isn’t pushed around too easily; so our departure went smoothly with the Twin Disc joystick requiring only a few deft touches to move us forward then slowly spin us around before we motored off to the sandbank-filled Gold Coast Waterway.
At the electronically controlled wheel only a soft burble was heard from the engines as skipper Mark and I chatted about the boat. “Probably the smoothest transmission system we’ve fitted,” he declared, and I agreed as the hull planed effortlessly without a shudder.
The raw power is easily controlled – I was amazed when the Garmin screen showed 24 knots, the ideal cruising speed, while the MAN gauges listed consumption as 400 litres per hour in total spinning at 1,900rpm – giving about 500 miles range. All I did was adjust the vertical trim tabs to 30% to flatten the bow.
The clear views all around from the flybridge gave me the confidence to push the wheel hard down and watch as the hull dug its shoulder in, without any dramas as we spun through some doughnuts before I put the foot down to watch as the numbers rose to an impressive 34 knots and consumption leapt to 700 l/ph; outrageous, but the speed is there if you really need it and the range is still near the 500 mark.
But the real test awaited offshore so we bashed our way seaward, the large wipers briskly clearing the breaking swells from the high windows.
To windward Mark supervised my speed – after all this was a $5.6 million boat on its way to the Sydney Boat Show – but we maintained a speed of 15 knots as the swells smashed into the flared bows, then I took her broadside but cheated a little by switching on the gyro as the two-metre swells pushed us around.
A rather extreme test you may say, but it showed that this pricey fixture ($116k and spinning at 5,200rpm) really does work. But the main fun lay ahead as I spun us downwind and then played the throttles to get in sync with the waves and we gently surfed homeward to finish an enjoyable day on this beautifully made and seaworthy Riviera 72 Flybridge.

Expat British owners Joe and Cheryl Pengelly have owned several Rivieras, so moving up from their 61-footer to the new Riviera 72 is not such a big step. The former merchant navy engineer and his wife, who is a trained nurse, are a practical couple with many thousands of sea miles under their belt, so they knew exactly what they wanted from the new 72.
“While the 61-footer left Cheryl and I wanting for nothing and she performed admirably throughout, we wanted better ocean-going capability, 3000-plus mile range and increased outdoor living and entertaining space,” says Joe.
When on land the couple call New Zealand home but, having voyaged for six months back in 2013 – a trip that included a circumnavigation of NZ and a cruise of the Pacific that totalled more than 5,000 nautical miles – it whetted their appetite for more of this region.
“Riviera was accommodating regarding modifications and extras we may require so long-range fuel tanks (10,500l) were first on our list, for obvious reasons,” says Joe.
Other modifications include a larger table in the aft cockpit, a removable chart table on the flybridge (instead of the pull-out bed), an automatic ice chip feeding system to both cockpit fish bins and upgraded freezer units.
“Fin stabilisation is my preference for a better all-weather solution, driven by 24 VDC servo motors and provided by Humphree. The system will integrate with the trim tabs to provide for a very effective, efficient system, saving both space and weight. This will free up the lazarette for storage and save weight/engineering.”
The 72 is large enough to fit all this and more aboard but is of course a large vessel to manage. “We are very comfortable handling the boat ourselves. Following the sea trial Cheryl was very comfortable with all aspects of the boat handling.
“The modern EJS system with joy stick control of main engines and hydraulic bow and stern thrusters, provides for easy control of the boat. I have to say, I would be quite happy to operate the boat on two engines and a bow thruster as per the previous boat. As we get older, we would use crew as required,” says Joe.