Timing is everything. On a recent jaunt through the Gold Coast of Australia, Capt. Bill Pike and I swung by the Riviera yard; they always have some interesting builds under way, we told ourselves.
The year prior, I had visited the yard and walked through a plywood mockup of the Riviera 68 Sports Motor Yacht. Covered in a fine layer of sawdust with renderings taped to the sides, it felt as if I was walking through an elaborate tree fort rather than a yacht; it took a bit of imagination to really see the newcomer’s proportions.
We rolled up to the yard office in our rental car, then followed the sound of a Travelift. We watched as the bow of a new motoryacht inched out from a 747-sized hangar. Luck was on our side. It turned out to be none other than Hull No. 1 of the Riviera 68. “Better to be lucky than good,” I mentioned to Bill, to which he replied with his signature mhmm.
Splashing a new model for the first time is typically something yards like to do away from prying eyes, especially those of the media. But the Riviera team was so confident in their new model they let us hop aboard as soon as the bottom paint kissed the water.
We sidestepped workers inspecting the engine room, walked through an exceptionally large cockpit into the aft galley that can easily service the cockpit through a swing-open window, and the salon forward. The salon, I couldn’t help but think, feels very masculine. That’s not just because of the enormous TV built into the galley counter; there’s also high seating and dark wood.
Accommodations for the 68 are comprised of a forward VIP, a guest stateroom with twin berths, and a full-beam master amidships. My favorite aspect of the 68’s accommodations is in the master, which features a small dinette to starboard next to the window and port. It looked like a great spot to watch the sunrise without going out and greeting your guests.
Power for the 68 and her sistership, the soon-to-be-launched 72, is provided by twin 1,550-horsepower MANs with V-drives (1,800, and 1,900, horsepower MANs are also available). We couldn’t quite coax the crew to let us pull her from the slip, but we have no reason to doubt the performance pedigree of the 680—and anticipated top end of 32 knots with exceptional range.
As we continued our tour we were asked if we wanted a walkthrough of the most recent mockup of the 68. “I’ve seen this before,” I thought, but we went anyway. Walking past a shrink-wrap entrance we were transported into the salon of what looked every bit the boat we were just on. “This is a mockup?” Bill asked, astonished. “This I didn’t see.”
We learned that Riviera does a true replica mockup of every boat they build, complete with fixtures, furniture, headliner etc. It was amazing to see the level of forethought that goes into ensuring there are no surprises when a new model is built. And it’s no surprise that the 68 has been widely successful in Australia and in the U.S. alike. —Daniel Harding Jr.
DISPL.: 99,200 lb.
FUEL: 1,849 gal.
WATER: 264 gal.
POWER: 2/1,550-hp MAN 2862 LE476S diesel
PRICE: Upon request