In the sixth of our series of articles looking back over 40 years of Riviera evolution, we explore the period from 2006 to 2010.
Life could hardly have looked better for the Riviera team at the beginning of 2006.
Computerisation was a major focus and the first results that flowed were revealed at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show that year. The Riviera 56 Enclosed Flybridge displayed a range of innovations that would percolate through the line-up.
At play on the water (left) or relaxing in luxury after sunset, the Riviera 56 Enclosed Flybridge offered a true home away from home.
She was the first Riviera to be fully computer designed and moulded, ensuring a millimetre- accurate fit between hull, deck and superstructure. Following collaboration with world-renowned Dutch superyacht designer Frank Mulder, she introduced propeller tunnels to reduce shaft angle and therefore improve performance. There were underwater exhausts for the engines to reduce both noise and fumes.
On the left: Ian Reynolds celebrates his land fall at Lord Howe Island on his shakedown cruise prior to undertaking his circumnavigation. Photo on the right: Home coming welcome for a Riviera hero. Ian Reynolds arrives on the Gold Coast in Queensland following his circumnavigation of Australia in a 56 Enclosed Flybridge Investigator. Ian and his crew were greeted by a flotilla of Riviera boats.
Asia-Pacific Boating magazine stated the 56 was: “a generation ahead in terms of design and construction”.
She achieved significant fame, demonstrating her strength and liveability when Riviera owner the late Ian Reynolds circumnavigated Australia in his 56.
The internal layout, too, was totally new for Riviera, drawing upon concepts from the recently launched sport yacht – aft galley and an awning window between galley and cockpit. But the 56 went further, introducing an internal staircase to the enclosed flybridge.
After a flurry of new model launches in 2005, the 56 was the only new model released in 2006.
Far from relaxing after the release of this inventive model, the design team was working hard on new model development, turning first to refinements on the Open Flybridge line-up and the development of a Sport Yacht that would elevate this new line to a new level.
In world developments that year, space returned to public attention as NASA resumed construction of the International Space Station following the Columbia shuttle accident. The Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at Mars, and another space explorer set off to study Pluto.
If 2006 was prosperous, the following year was even more exciting for the Riviera team as they achieved the significant milestone of building more than 4,000 boats in just 26 years.
Three more new models were unveiled in that year including the 4700 Sport Yacht, a boat that cemented this line among Riviera models. She proved not only to be innovative but highly popular both with the boat-buying market and with the boating media who showered her with praise and three awards, the industry’s Boat of the Year, Best Cruiser over 10 Metres and Modern Boating magazine’s Boat of the Year.
Left: the 48 Offshore Express was a sports fisher’s delight. Top right: The Riviera 5800 Sport Yacht was a dramatic development for the expanding Sport Yacht range. Above right: Riviera offered an Open Flybridge option for the popular 56 Enclosed.
Ocean magazine described her as “a brilliant indoor-outdoor entertainer”.
It may have been exciting times at Riviera, but ominous signs were emerging to threaten global stability. In Australia, house prices began to stagnate and, in the US, financial lending practices were threatening the market.
At Riviera’s Coomera headquarters, innovation continued apace with the launch of a replacement for the popular 37 Open Flybridge, the 38, the release of the innovative 4400 Sport Yacht, the very first Riviera to be built specifically for the new Volvo Penta Inboard Propulsion System pod drives, then the strikingly new concept 5800 Sport Yacht, the 48 Offshore Express, the first of another new line, a significant upgrade for the popular 51 flybridge, an Open version of the 56, the 61 Enclosed Flybridge and a luxurious new flagship, the 70 Enclosed Flybridge.
Following the success of an Australian boat show season, Riviera’s long-time CEO Wes Moxey announced his retirement, handing the reins to a now well-trained and experienced team. They would soon need every element of experience they could muster.
In September 2008, US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed. This event rippled through the US and world banking systems, triggering recessions around the globe.
Beyond recession, the world was gripped by two events in January of 2009 as, first, the captain of an airliner landed his plane safely in New York’s Hudson River, saving all passengers and crew. A few days later Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the US.
Volvo Penta’s IPS provide so popular that was soon itilised in a range of upgrades and new models including the 5000 Sport Yacht (top left) the 3600 Sport Yacht (top right), the new 43 Offshore Express and the 43 Open Flybridge.
By April 2009 the global financial crisis was rapidly taking effect and the boating market globally was in steep decline. Given this situation the private equity backers of Riviera, elected to put the company into voluntary administration in early May 2009. It would remain with administrators until March 2012.
Despite the dramatic changes, Riviera launched two model in 2009, both updated versions of existing models; the 5000 Sport Yacht with IPS and an IPS version of the 3600 Sport Yacht. Sales over the year fell by nearly 60 percent.
While Australia avoided an official recession, a number of countries around the world began to emerge from economic decline in early 2010.
For the Riviera team, 2010 was a year to take stock and come to terms with its new situation. They launched the 43 Offshore Express designed for Volvo Penta IPS and a completely new-look 43 Open Flybridge, also featuring IPS power, heralding a new era of propulsion systems for the organisation.