A spectacular circle formed by 106 Riviera luxury motor yachts rafted together in New Zealand’s Awaawaroa Bay has been the first in a series of global celebrations to mark an extraordinary 40 years of evolution for Riviera.
View or download R Marine Flagship Raft-up Video 2:24 min duration
Held on 22 February and organised in partnership with Auckland’s R Marine Flagship, the event has broken the previous Riviera raft-up record set in Perth in 2017 of 48 Riviera yachts.
The mega raft-up was the first of many special events planned this year to celebrate Riviera’s milestone anniversary.
It was a highlight for Riviera owner Rodney Longhurst, who attended the event with two of his sons, Samuel and Bennett. The family are avid boaters and participate in as many Riviera boating events as they can each year.
More than 600 friends and family joined the celebration on the southern side of Waiheke Island on a variety of Riviera motor yachts ranging in size from 33 to 72 feet for a “surreal” evening of entertainment.
But not before they had a dose of the island nation’s four seasons in one day, according to Joe and Cheryl Pengelly, whose new 72 Sports Motor Yacht Our Vibe was instrumental in keeping the circle in position.
“We had a torrential monsoon downpour during the setup, but it didn’t matter; it was warm and just typical Auckland,” Joe said.
The flotilla of luxury motor yachts was held in position by four Riviera yachts, each marking a cardinal point. Our Vibe was the southern anchor point, another two 72 Sports Motor Yachts marked the north and east and Joe’s previous Riviera Communiqué, a 61 Flybridge Series II, held the west.
Thirty Riviera team members were at hand to facilitate the rafting-up process, which, when accomplished, created a circle measuring 238 metres in diameter.
“The scale of the raft-up was awe-inspiring. I’m not sure if it will ever be beaten. By 4pm we were set up and it was party time,” Joe said.
A purpose-built floating stage graced the centre of the flotilla, which when encircled by 106 lighted luxury motor yachts at dusk, was stunning, said Cheryl.
“It was so fantastic it was surreal. You had to pinch yourself because you couldn’t quite believe it could be so awesome. All of us together like that it really did feel like a big Riviera family,” Cheryl said.
“We had three generations of our own family aboard too. Five grandchildren slept on the boat that night and Joe’s elderly parents. Plus, we had a few drop-ins from other boats. It was a wonderful event with the afternoon spent playing in the water with the kids on kayaks and then a really cool night.”
Headlining the evening’s entertainment was New Zealand’s premier female vocal ensemble, The Lady Killers, featuring Jackie Clarke, Tina Cross and Suzanne Lynch.
The R&B legend Midge Marsden with Chet O’Connell also featured, with the latter attempting to cover each of the 106 Rivieras’ theme songs.
“The night wasn’t long enough to be able to play everyone’s song,” Cheryl said. “But the highlight of the evening was the Lady Killers. They had the best time dancing on the stage in flats instead of their usual stilettos for a change! We danced till we dropped.”
For Mark Hayward on his Riviera 51 Flybridge The God Father, the raft-up was an opportunity to scope out other luxury motor yachts.
“It’s one of the best boating events I’ve ever been to,” Mark said. “To actually get the kiwi Riviera owners all together – Dean and Suzie at R Marine Flagship and Riviera did such an amazing job to give back to the community like that.”
“I love my boat, it’s a fantastic sea boat and I’m just in the market now to buy another one, probably a Riviera 63 or even 70. So, it’s great to be able to see others’ boats and look at what you want next,” Mark said.
Aboard Koenig, a Riviera 51 Flybridge, Jolene Kennedy said the occasion had a real buzz about it.
“The atmosphere was just amazing,” Jolene said. “Everyone was really happy to be there and there was a great sense of camaraderie. The Riviera team did an incredible job. It was really well organised, a massive thank you to them,” Jolene said.
Roslyn Sentch was also particularly grateful to the team at R Marine Flagship. It was Roslyn’s maiden voyage on their Riviera 40 Flybridge, Tenacious.
“We’d only bought the boat two days before the raft-up and my husband couldn’t come so it was just me and our two boys. Riviera did everything for us, taking us out, helping us to raft up, and looking after us all night. It was so well organised,” Roslyn said.
“We had the best time, it was fabulous. The kids had a ball, everyone was friendly and, oh my gosh, I love the boat!”
The Awaawaroa Bay raft-up was the first in a series of global gala events by to celebrate Riviera’s milestone 40th anniversary in 2020.