Once you step to the helm on the Riva 63 Virtus, you won’t ever look back.
Not replacing the 63 Vertigo but augmenting her in this famous Italian yard’s lineup, the new Riva 63 Virtus offers a wind-in-the-hair, retro-styled sports cruiser on the same hull and running gear as the existing model. Riva grew famous for its matchless mahogany creations, but it is now nearly as well known for its voluminous sports yachts and pretty fiberglass runabouts, which so successfully combine modern methods with retro-classic looks.
With two double cabins and a twin cleverly slotted into place down below, the Virtus’ layout sees a full-beam master suite amidships and a stylish head and shower compartment taking up the starboard side. The comfortable VIP suite occupies a similar floor area, but is set forward in the bows, so it feels smaller. The third cabin has twin bunks at right angles, and a surprising amount of stowage space.
The dining table seats eight, opposite a modest but well-equipped galley on the port side. Leather, lacquer, and oak, the interior fit-out was beautifully executed, as befits a Riva.
Up on deck, the well-organized cockpit has a big L-shaped sofa at the lustrously varnished table, and a smaller sofa opposite, which can be slid across at mealtimes. There is also a sociable three-seater at the helm.
The hull is constructed in hand-laid E-glass, cored with PVC foam in the topsides and deck. Vinylester resin protects the hull laminate from osmosis. The Virtus might present itself as a good-ole open sportsboat, but at heart she’s as modern and complex as Italian motoryachts in this price bracket have to be—and prospective owners wouldn’t want it any other way. The electric bimini mechanism, for example, is of such magnificent engineering complexity that its deployment earns appreciative applause.
A Riva is about luxury and style, but not exclusively—performance has always been part of the image. With big MAN V12s mounted amidships on V-drive transmissions, the engineering is pleasingly traditional, but packs plenty of power: 39 knots dead in our two-way trial seemed pretty respectable in the choppy conditions, but nevertheless the engineer was quick to point out that a season’s bottom growth probably wasn’t helping either. The low-end torque of the MANs was exemplary, launching the hull out of the hole with alacrity and keeping it firmly on plane at 18 to 20 knots. At all speeds the Virtus remained light and well balanced on the helm.
Like fraternal twins, Riva’s two 63s have much in common but are quite different in character. Removing the hardtop and redesigning the cockpit has lent the Virtus a contrasting look and a strong character that is all its own. It seems that less can indeed be more.