All Riviera vessels today are designed using state-of-the-art three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems. These virtually allow you to ‘walk through’ a vessel that, as yet, only exists as pixels on a screen or ideas in your grey matter.
Despite such power, the creation of a Riviera does not take place in some ivory design tower.
Two very important sets of information are fed into the process.
One is engineering parameters; in this case, the propulsion systems and the specifications of various high-technology construction materials.
The second set of information is no less important but, in a way, even more complex — and elusive.
For this new 53, it amounted to an exhaustive two-year consultation with Riviera owners right across the globe.
We were keen to learn even more regarding how owners really use their boats; where they use them; how often; every niggle, satisfaction and desire, to help enhance their experience.
These are not feel-good focus groups; all feedback was actually fed back — into the design process.
Or, you could say, the enjoyment process.
Turning up the volume
Propulsion decisions have played a large part in determining many aspects of the 53’s design envelope.
We’ll get into more detail further on but for now the key choice of pod drives (the 53 is now the fifth vessel in the fleet to specifically customise hull design around pods) has also driven a number of other improvements.
For one thing, it has enabled us to run hull lines straight aft from the maximum mid-ship girth (her beam is 5.13 m — 16′ 10″ ). This, in turn, provides a more buoyant lift and planing surface, as well as greater stability: to operate on a more even keel, so to speak.
This also allows, in turn, a vessel of greater volume. But the perception of magnitude is perhaps even greater when you’re on board.
There’s less the sense of a scaled-up fifty-footer as there might be of a scaled-down 60-something. (The 53’s overall length is actually 59′ 5″, so no wonder, perhaps.)
Based on her broad stance, the 53 exhibits powerful and noble lines, with a muscular sheer forward and quite deep topside dimensions, which give her a freeboard akin to a much larger ship altogether.
Even so, from any angle, everything seems in perfect proportion.
The flybridge, whether on the Open or Enclosed, is comfortably in scale. As is the vast cockpit, window ratio and superstructure.
Innovative moulded window casings contribute impeccable tailored detail and style — perfect fit and finish — while ushering in 360 degrees of light and showing off water views from every seating position in the living area.
Innovative front windscreen panels now butt together in two large sheets instead of three, making a dramatic difference to the sweep of the view forward.
Swing your gaze around to the rear of the superstructure and years of design refinement are revealed in a slide-away glass door and hinged awning window, both framed in polished stainless steel, to allow all the light and air (or people, and entertainment) to pass freely between outdoor and main living space.
Wide open welcome
Just ahead and above the bar area is the stylish internal staircase that ascends to the flybridge.
Carefully designed to minimise any ‘boxed-in’ feeling or obscuring of views from the saloon, this floating teak tread staircase is elegantly suspended on polished stainless rails and filigree supports.
While this tempts us to head straight up top, we’ll come to the flybridge shortly, because right ahead of the galley and staircase the 53 opens its arms wide to almost smother you with hospitality.
To your port is a capital-C shaped dinette (convertible to a double berth) encircling a drop- down table. It can easily wine and dine seven.
Opposite, to starboard, is yet another generous C-shaped settee that provides ultimate cruising comfort for at least six.
Sink into any of these spaces and you can quickly appreciate the generous depth of padding and tailored upholstery that make the boat feel so plush and sumptuous.
From here (as well as from the cockpit) you also have a clear view, not only of the almost 360 degree vista, but the optional massive, wide-screen 50inch TV that rises electronically from the forward dash, creating a floating sports arena or movie theatre experience enhanced by the all-enveloping, subwoofer-enriched, 5-speaker high-fidelity audio system.
Chef as orchestrator
Its generous and efficient two-person U-space is just off to one side of any people traffic, but is very much the ‘conductor’s podium’— in the centre of the social scene.
This galley is almost a display kitchen for the latest in appliances, set off by high gloss timber cabinetry and solid surface bench tops.
The warm heart of the galley is the stainless steel cooking array that includes a combination oven/microwave, induction cooktop and electric grill.
The Vitrifrigo refrigeration suite features both a drawer fridge and freezer. And the Fisher and Paykel dishwasher is also a back-friendly drawer style.
Directly opposite to starboard, almost as an extension to galley catering, is another drawer fridge and freezer, a wet bar with options for icemaker and a full height floor-to-ceiling (or sole-to-deck-head) pullout pantry.
This operates, as does all the cabinetery that opens and shuts on the 53, on soft-close runners from Hafele, revered German cabinetmakers whose business has been running smoothly since 1923.
But then, everything on the 53 is intended to run that way.
The cockpit obviously offers a lot more than clear sight and sound from the audiovisual systems.
This area is really any cruiser’s or angler’s dream.
For one thing, it’s nearly eleven square metres in size. You can imagine there’s plenty of space for a table and, well, numerous chairs. But it’s also large enough to allow a mezzanine level and optional lounge, the ideal platform to take in the fishing action. Or the sunset.
Or just an eye-widening view of the awesome, rapidly-vanishing contrail of a 53 foot boat, on song, at full throttle.
We’ve almost made such an art form of clean and uncluttered cockpits that, like Transformers, there’s much more than meets the eye. Even more still on the 53.
For instance, the mezzanine has drink holders and underseat refrigeration. The very step up to it also lifts to access a hidden storage cavern.
Under the starboard side decking is a bath-size GRP storage tub that can serve as an optional fridge or fish bin.
Under the cockpit sink (covered by a flush hatch) is a large locker that can take storage or a rubbish receptacle.
The lovely wide coamings conceal recessed cleats in the aft corners, so lines won’t snag. Even the corner scuppers below them are covered by handsome flush stainless grates.
The cockpit flanks are full of hidden storage for tackle, toys or lines.
The transom alone is virtually a magician’s trunk. One ingenious aspect is the transom door; its lift-up bridge and â€˜tuna door’ can operate independently, to guard the angler’s safety, yet not hinder the transom BBQ when in use.
To explain: the midsection of the transom is a top-loading storage bin but can also become an optional twin-grill BBQ with integrated sink and utensil storage. Or if you really prefer fresh-caught fish over grilled meat, it can also be an optional top-loading live bait tank with high circulation, clear viewing window and LED lighting.
Then, there’s the cockpit’s final piece de resistance: the whole mid-section of the cockpit sole raises on an actuator to grant total access to the…
But let’s not go there just yet.
More Capital-C comfort
Turning instead back to the interior staircase and the flybridge:
The area upstairs is another complete revelation.
At first, you think you’re still down in the saloon, so generous is this space.
Blink and check again. No, there’s a helm station up here — set fully forward for the cruiser (a position preferred by many coastal passagemakers).
But up here is also another enormously comfy C-shaped lounge and hi-lo table. There’s also a wet bar opposite, with drawer fridges and sink — all serving to keep you refreshed while under way. And all nice and close to the staircase so the galley can easily feed prepared delicacies up to the gathering.
Either at anchor, on the marina or on passage, the staircase can be secured for privacy or security. A folding, lockable hidden hatch emerges from beautifully matched varnished cabinetry.
But look up; just as subtly integrated is a huge sliding electric sunroof, usually only seen on much larger vessels, which, together with slide-open side windows, create a virtual sky lounge full of light, space and fresh… aaah.
The flybridge area also sports a new entertainment system embracing AM/FM/CD and iPod, to offer a personal soundtrack to the view.
The Master stateroom itself, again defying convention for a vessel of this size, luxuriates right across the full beam. This sanctuary is accessed by its very own short, half-turn â€˜private’ staircase, continuing below the main companionway. This is not on the way to anywhere else.
The Master’s king-size island bed is set in the gentle â€˜sweet spot’ right amidships, with real dancing room either side; even allowing glossy cabinetry along both perimeters to include a lift-up dressing table as well as built-in writing bureau. The Master not only has full length picture windows but has its own sofa, proper walk-in cedar-lined wardrobe (with full mirror and shoe racks), large TV and adjacent DVD/CD cabinets. Magnetic door catches are a nice touch too.
It’s a totally self-contained getaway space. Especially when served by its own separate ensuite, quietly flaunting solid surface non-slip floor (set slightly lower to contain water), vanity unit mounted with porcelain feature sink, separate frameless glass, operatic-scale shower stall complete with teak seat, vacu-flush toilet and Grohe fittings.
It’s a calming retreat within a retreat.
The Guest stateroom (or VIP suite, if they’re very favoured friends) engenders no envy of the level of luxury in the Master.
Located forward, it positions a Queen-size island bed in pride of place, again with good side access, plenty of fragrant, cedar-lined, gown-length hanging space, and its own ensuite bathroom which, with twin entry, easily doubles as the day head.
Yet, there’s still room left over; enough for a generous third guest cabin featuring twin Pullman style bunks, but nowhere near as dinky as their romantic train-travel namesakes.
These bunks are each 2 metres long and up to 600mm wide with generous access space.
This neatly brings us to what may well be the really heroic aspect of this boat â€” the engineering department that makes all this performance and generosity possible.
Riviera’s engineering team have really come down in favour of fuel efficient pod drives to propel the 53 to an impressive top speed and range.
The renowned and proven Volvo Penta IPS system puts twin forward-facing counter-rotating props to the fore. And Volvo include traditional lever controls as well as the intuitive joystick that can single-handedly get you in and out of the most sardine-like marina.
Volvo claims up to 30 percent improvements in economy, efficiency, acceleration, top speed and quietness for IPS.
Hulls are laminated using lighter weight, yet far stronger, vacuum vinylester infusion, and integrate a hand-laid deck and hardtop, to deliver an exceptionally robust structure that will incorporate areas of solid GRP and various specialised core materials as propulsion specs demand.
Reliability and reassurance are further built in, in the form of independent compartment modules throughout the hull as well as a watertight collision bulkhead forward.
Riviera’s infusion technology also helps to precisely replicate the exact lines lofted from our design software.
Accuracy flawlessly reflected in the deep gloss of the final isophthalic gelcoat exterior.
Not breaking the sound barrier
Because the new 53 is essentially built around her pod propulsion, the compactness that brings has a profound effect on space saving, starting with the engine room itself; not only providing more height, volume and access, but leaving enough room over to allow the option of a separate workshop.
The freedom to place fuel tanks mid-ships, right across the centreline, from keel-to-saloon-sole, creates a complete sound-barrier wall to the master stateroom, while providing better centre-of-balance to the vessel during cruising, or indeed at anchor, when exposed to passing wash.
(Because we think every small improvement counts toward enjoyment, we should also mention that having a single central tank keeps the boat nice and trim as fuel burns off.)
Letters of merit
CAN, or Controller Area Network, is a revolutionary digital system that grants access and control for all the 53’s AC and DC power tentacles, from masthead to underwater lights, from navigation to entertainment.
What it provides is nothing less than intuitive control of all aspects of electrical operation, via touch screens installed both at the helm station and the electrical control centre in the saloon.
When we say control we mean, by way of example, DC current protection to within 100 milliamp accuracy. And the displays tell you as much.
|Length Overall (inc. swim platform & bow roller)||18.2 m||59′ 9″|
|Lh to ISO8666*||17.2 m||56′ 5″|
|Beam (inc. gunwale)||5.13 m||16′ 10″|
|Maximum Draft (inc. props)||1.25 m||4′ 1″|
|Dry Weight** (approx., depends on engines & options)||28,915 kg||63,700 lbs|
|Fuel Capacity***||3,500 L||925 US gal|
|Water Capacity***||750 L||198 US gal.|
|Holding Tank Capacity***||273 L||72 US gal|
|Sleeping Capacity||6 persons|
|Cockpit Area||2.60 m2||28.0 ft2|
|Mezzanine Deck||9.80 m2||105.5 ft2|
|Total Cockpit Area||12.40 m2||133.5 ft2|
|Bridge Clearance||5.73 m||18′ 10″|
|Standard Engine x 2 – Volvo IPS 950||533 kW||725 hp|
|Range||354 nm @ 24.5 knt|