There is an awful lot to admire about the way members of Riviera's executive team go about their business. Despite the company suffering as badly as anyone during the recent global financial crisis, they continued to keep their focus firmly on the things that really matter: developing new and better models, designing new and better ways of doing things, and keeping in touch with the demands and wishes of their customers.
As a result, with their well-publicised tribulations now behind them, Australia's largest production launch manufacturer is clearly back at the top of its game.
A great example is the new 63 Enclosed Flybridge.
It encompasses Riviera's best proven features, has a large number of innovative new ones and also boasts a surprisingly high level of customisation.
The 63 is available either as an Open model (with a fixed bimini for shade) or as an Enclosed Flybridge. The Open debuted just over a year ago, at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, and the first Enclosed Flybridge, Bleue Serene, was ordered shortly after by a keen Auckland angler.
One can tell he is a keen angler as soon as one steps on board. His custom-designed game chair dominates the lower level of Bleue Serene's not insubstantial cockpit. In addition, a quick count reveals a total of 20 rod holders almost within arm's reach: four in the coamings, six in a secondary "rocket launcher" between the cockpit's upper and lower levels and a further 10 in the rocket launcher proper, at the back of the flybridge.
A quick look around the working section of the cockpit also reveals several other dedicated fishing features: an under-sole insulated fish bin connected to an icemaker (which automatically fills the bin when turned on); a centrally mounted livebait tank in the boarding platform; a removable pushpit complete with bait station; pull-out tackle tray lockers and a large freezer.
There are also three cockpit sole hatches that can be completely air-sealed at the touch of their buttons to ensure that absolutely no water gets through, even when the cockpit is awash.
Yet even though Bleue Serene initially gives the impression that she is an out-and-out sportsfisher, that is only part of the picture. Bleue Serene's owner is just as passionate about cruising with his young family.
As Adam Wickes (from New Zealand Riviera agent, R Marine) explains, the beauty of the 63 Enclosed Flybridge is that it effortlessly caters for both.
When the family is aboard, the game chair, baitboard and rods all disappear; when the mates come along for an extended fishing trip, they are quickly reinstated.
Like many modern flybridge cruisers, the Riviera 63 has a split-level cockpit, designed to cater for watersports and entertaining at the same time.
The lower level is the "working" section and here one finds everything one needs to fish, dive, cook, clean up and connect to the outside world. The barbecue module, for example, comes complete with sink, hot and cold water and some cleverly positioned lights in the lid for night-time cooking.
Another useful feature is the cockpit side lockers. At first glance, these appear to be standard passive lockers with hatches that pull open and lie flat on the floor. They are not.
Instead, the locker tray has been attached to the hatch and, when it is opened (the stops are at about 45 degrees) the contents of the locker are right there and easy to access. On Bleue Serene they have been used to contain the shore power cables and a handy pressure washer.
With a superbly appointed cruiser like this, it is hard to choose a favourite spot. Nevertheless, I suspect many will plump for the upper section of the cockpit.
This "mezzanine" will be a wonderful area in which to relax at the end of the day. Protected from the elements by the flybridge overhang, it is open enough to attract a cooling breeze on a hot day.
With facing bench seats either side of a Riviera table (complete with stainless steel bottle and glass holder), it is also handy to the ship's aft galley thanks to a large, opening awning window. Through this snacks, refreshments and even substantial meals can easily be passed straight from galley to alfresco table.
Bleue Serene also features an advanced C-Zone control system situated just inside the entrance to the saloon and, from here, one can control almost all of the Riviera 63's various electrical and electronic systems.
Here, too, are the controls for the new Switch glass panels.
These wonderfully innovative pieces of glass have been installed on both sides of the saloon, in the awning window and main saloon door and on the sides of the flybridge.
In "normal" mode they look like normal windows, allowing people to see in and out. Touch the right C-Zone screen panel, however, and the selected glass window or door goes black, ensuring complete privacy.
They are childishly easy to operate and one can choose to darken all the windows on board, just the windows in one area or even a single window.
Although Bleue Serene is the first boat in the Riviera range to be fitted with Switch glass, given the benefits (for example, one has no need for blinds or curtains), it is unlikely to be the last.
Overall, Bleue Serene's interior layout is fairly traditional. In true Kiwi style the galley is aft to port. For'ard is the "lounge" area with an L-shaped settee facing the entertainment centre. On starboard, under the air bridge stairway to the flybridge, is the bar, complete with beer fridge drawers, dedicated drinks lockers, icemaker and, rising at the push of a button, a delightful pop-up glass stowage unit. For'ard, a u-shaped settee wraps around the dining table.
Bleue Serene features a three-cabin layout. Two are substantial and the other is a Pullman-style for the children. There is also a handy utility room with still more freezers, lots of pantry space and a range of appliances, including a breadmaker.
Although gamefishing is obviously a priority, Bleue Serene's helm station has been set forward in conventional style (there is an aft docking/fishing station on the platform overlooking the cockpit). In addition to the usual instruments and controls, there is also a full camera system, an intercom capable of connecting the bridge to both the galley and engine room, a separate sound system and a handy "glovebox" complete with a pair of 12V charging outlets.
Standard power on the Riviera 63 is a pair of Caterpillar C18 Acert diesels, each generating 1015hp. This wasn't considered adequate by Bleue Serene's owner and he has, instead, opted for a brace of MAN V12s, each producing 1550hp.
It is not every day that one gets control of more than 3000 horsepower and it is an experience not to be missed. Once clear of the speed restricted areas, Bleue Serene responds like a racehorse kept corralled for too long. There is no noticeable "hump" to navigate over; rather, the 30-tonne cruiser accelerates in an even and relentless fashion, rather like a 747 gathering speed along the runway.
It is hard to determine when we move from displacement to planing but I suspect it is rather early.
It takes little time to hit her top speed of 35.1 knots (at 2350rpm) and, once there, Bleue Serene performs like a ski boat. Hard turns at top speed are not usually undertaken on vessels like this but, should the need arise I can report that Bleue Serene will prove more than able to cope.
Our final test before heading back is to check how this dedicated gamefisher, complete with boarding platform, handles being reversed at speed (and how well those cockpit air seals cope).
We reverse Bleue Serene rapidly at an impressive 6.1 knots and, even though the lower section of the cockpit is completely flooded, the aft section of the vessel remains buoyant and safe - and all the underfloor lockers remain completely fee of water.
Want to know more?
Check out the comprehensive boat test on the Riviera 63 Enclosed Flybridge in the May/June issue of Pacific Powerboat magazine or at www.pacificpowerboat.com.
Riviera 63 Enclosed Flybridge
Displacement (dry):30 tonnes
Engines:MAN 8V 1550hp
Maximum speed: 34.1 knots
Cruising speed:27-28 knots
Fuel capacity:5700 litres
Water capacity:1000 litres