2019 Riva 56 Rivale

As another alluring example of the shipyard’s classic, open-boat styling, the Rivale from the legendary boatbuilder is no overgrown runabout, but a substantial craft that launches into the highly charged sector of sub-60-foot sport yachts. Although in length, beam and horsepower, none of its obvious rivals can be set up as an exact match, there are plenty of valid comparisons to be made.
In response to that, of course, the many Riva aficionados who fondly remember the brand’s illustrious heritage as a style icon of the dolce vita era will murmur with a condescending smile that Riva doesn’t have any obvious rivals. It is a marque apart, each boat a validation of its owner’s taste and discernment.
To a remarkable extent, more than 20 years after the last mahogany Riva was launched (mahogany-faced plywood, in fact), this is still actually true. A modern Riva might be made of fiberglass, with standard naval architecture, fitted with the same internal components you find on other boats, and powered by engines that bear the badges of German and Swedish companies, but the boats nevertheless still have an aura about them.
The open look is deceptive, of course. This is a substantial vessel nearly 16 feet in beam, and the midships master cabin makes full use of it with a double berth mounted athwartships and a spacious head and shower on the port side, both served by spectacular hull windows set into those sculpted topsides. The VIP suite feels less generous, but it still has the 6-foot 6-inch headroom and you shouldn’t get any complaints about the size of the bed. There is also en suite access to a roomy head with separate shower.

The port guest cabin I found on our test boat, which was the third off the production line, is an option: The Rivale’s standard layout sees this space occupied by a crew cabin, accessed down through the cockpit seating. In either incarnation, it’s a very small space. In this respect the Rivale is no worse than many rival boats of this style and size. The cabin is surprisingly well off for stowage, however, with four good drawers and a reasonable hanging locker.
Out at sea this alluring machine proved to have performance and poise to match its looks. With the larger of the two available engine options, twin 1,200-horsepower MAN V8s, it was hardly going to feel short on power, although the engines themselves, squeezed into a modest compartment beneath the tender well and driving traditional shafts through V-drive transmissions, might be a little short on legroom. Willing in acceleration and responsive to the helm, the Rivale was a pleasure to drive, achieving a top speed of over 37 knots without apparent effort.
A moderate transom deadrise of 17.8 degrees is carried well forward and provides a generous lifting surface, the downside of that being a pretty hard ride while powering into a chop. The tall windshield offers excellent protection from the breeze, but with its distortions in the curved corners and dark tint, it’s not great to look through, and for this 6-foot helmsman at least, neither is it easy to see over.
Riva has still got it, whatever it is—that indefinable, undeniable aura of being special. In this, at least, the Rivale has no rival. ­—Alan Harper

Ferretti Group America, 305-633-9761; ferrettigroupamerica.com

[dt_fancy_title title=”Specifications” title_size=”h3″ title_color=”title”]

LOA: 56’8”
Beam: 15’7”
Draft: 4’9”
Displ.: 59,525 lb. (dry)
Fuel: 713 gal.

Water: 106 gal.
Standard power: 2/1,000-hp MAN V8-1000
Test power: 2/1,200-hp MAN V8-1000
Top Speed: 37 knots