Most manufacturers like to say they only build a new boat after extensive consultation with customers and owners. But in the case of Riviera’s new 565 SUV, the company has taken the concept to a whole new level, with multi-Riviera owner Ray Haddrell pretty much coming up with the base concept and then working with the factory to bring it to fruition.
Having owned a total of five Rivieras, including a 51 Flybridge and 5000 Sports Yacht, the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria-based retiree knew exactly what he wanted in a boat. After taking a thorough tour of the company’s new 53 Enclosed Flybridge in Sydney last year he said there was a lot to like in the new cruiser, but as far as he was concerned it was only half there in terms of what he was looking for.
“It was a lovely boat, but I’d had flybridges and the trouble was you could get very lonely up on the flybridge, with everyone else being down below,” he said. “I decided I wanted everything on the same level. Initially I spoke to Stuart Jackson (dealer principal of Melbourne’s R Marine Jacksons) and Wes Moxey (current Riviera CEO) about a hardtop version of the 53. Wes said that he would need to talk with Riviera’s engineering and design team to see if it could be done and eventually got back to me to get everything started.”
What followed was an intensive period of communications between Haddrell, Jackson and Moxey, to-ing and fro-ing on all aspects of the layout. Haddrell’s wife Jenny also had some input, in particular regarding the galley layout and placement.
Beginning at the stern, the decision was made to mount the tender on the hydraulically operated swim platform for ease of launching and retrieval, and the centrally placed cockpit barbecue was another Haddrell inspiration.
Riviera can also accommodate a transommounted barbecue, should owners request it. On Haddrell’s boat the same area is occupied by a fold-up lounge.
Another rear-facing lounge sits on the elevated mezzanine just beneath the awning-style galley window. A wet bar and fridge occupy the starboard forward corner of the cockpit, while another more spacious fridge lurks under the lounge adjacent. Haddrell is obviously a big fan of cold refreshments, installing a total of six fridges and one freezer around the galley and cockpit.
The entire teak-inlaid floor of the cockpit lifts electrically to reveal a pair of Volvo IPS 900 pod drives housed in a very spacious compartment. There is plenty of working room around the powerplants and stand-up room at the forward bulkhead.
The teak work extends to the bow access walkways flanking the hardtop.
Three steps lead up from the cockpit and into the interior, with the U-shaped galley to port boasting Corian working surfaces, with cupboards and drawers aplenty and a three-element induction cooktop.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
The main deck’s interior is almost evenly split between galley, saloon and helm. What I liked most about it was the open, spacious feel created by the large windows, including forward side windows that slide open, and manual sunroofs, enhanced by the sliding saloon entry door and galley window. There is extensive use of cherry cabinetry and light tan upholstery.
Haddrell actually chose a custom interior decor treatment utilising Riviera’s traditional cherry timber. The standard interior for the 565 is a new style, which features two-pack painted finishes, satin American oak timber, wall fabrics and timber flooring, which will give the boat a real Euro feel, says Riviera.
Two lounges, the portside L-shaped one serviced by a very stylish custom cherry foldout table that converts to a double berth, accommodate around seven adults, who can be entertained by a pop-up LED TV and the Fusion audio system.
A unique aspect of the helm area is Haddrell’s choice of a quartet of raised swivelling helm chairs. He says it gives passengers a great perch to view the passage ahead.
A lot of effort has gone into getting the layout and ergonomics of the helm and dash just right, in particular ensuring that once seated, the skipper needs to barely raise a hand to control the boat. The throttles, autopilot, joystick and trim tabs all sit on a ledge directly to the left of the armrest, so are easily reached when needed. All other controls are positioned so that the skipper doesn’t have to sit forward to use them, while three large Raymarine E165 touch-screens dominate the dash and provide information on depth, course and radar.
Haddrell also opted for two remote helm joysticks either side of the forward cockpit corners to make docking easier in tight spaces.
The real glamour of the 565 lurks beneath the main deck. Up front is a generously proportioned forward cabin, featuring twin berths, although Riviera also offers a conventional queen island berth if required. Storage options include deep shelf lockers as well as under-berth drawers and hanging lockers.
A day head and shower adjoin the forward cabin, with another smaller cabin to starboard housing two fairly broad 2m bunks.
Turning aft there is a companionway leading down to the full-beam master cabin, which is a cavernous space, dominated by the central kingsize island bed. Daylight floods the cabin via large windows and opening portholes. Occupants enjoy the added amenity of their own large bathroom to port, with a compact walk-in robe for the first mate to starboard. There is also a small lounge set into the starboard bulkhead.
Since purchasing Rayzaway, as it’s so appropriately been dubbed, Haddrell has logged up a lot of sea time, including a trip from the Gold Coast to Hervey Bay, before pointing the bow south for its recent home run to Melbourne. It allowed him to get a feel for his cruiser in a variety of conditions.
Fuel economy and range are major plusses, he said. “It carries 3500lt of fuel and we were able to make it all the way from the Gold Coast to Pittwater on the one tank,” he said. “It took 3174lt to fill it up and we worked out it was using around 7.5lt per nautical mile, regardless of whether it was doing 20 knots (37km/h) or 26 knots (46km/h).”
Departing the marina into Port Phillip Bay, the 565 SUV showed its impeccable, joy-stick-enhanced manners, courtesy of Volvo’s proprietary low-speed IPS manoeuvring system. It is confidence-inspiring, but “takes all the fun out of parking a boat”, commented a wry Haddrell.
The IPS system also includes Volvo’s ‘Skyhook’ position-holding function, which keeps the boat locked in place by manoeuvring the propulsion units to allow for wind, tide and current. Haddrell says it comes in very handy when approaching unfamiliar locations.
“It’s really good when you come into a port for the first time. You can stand off and check where everything is and prepare your ropes without having to run around all over the boat and keep an eye on where you are.”
QUIET AS SHE GOES
Once out on the bay proper, which was mirrorflat on the day, we rose to plane with little effort at around 14 knots (30km/h), maintaining a fairly flat running angle for good forward visibility. In fact, visibility in all directions is hard to fault, as is the 565’s quiet running. With the throttles set to 25 knots, the engines produce a subtle hum that barely intruded into the saloon, even with the galley window and saloon door open.
Handling was impeccable – not surprising given the calm seas on the day – although Haddrell says that during his run down the coast he encountered some large seas that reassured him as to the 565’s soft ride and sea-keeping.
“In some of the bigger seas it made me appreciate what a very solid and dry boat it is,” he said.
Riviera’s sleek and handsome 565 SUV is the outcome of one man’s persistence and a boat builder that really listens to its customers. While the company already had one model in its SUV range – the 445 released at last year’s Sydney show – the 565 combines all the advantages of its existing 53 Enclosed Flybridge, including its wide beam, expansive cockpit and huge master cabin, with the versatility and live ability of the single-level concept of a sports cruiser. It is a welcoming boat, with plenty of capacity for socialising, but could just as easily handle a trip up the east coast or a spot of game fishing in the tropics.
“It really is a great boat. There’s just nothing about this boat that I don’t like,” said its proud owner, a bloke who’s owned enough Rivieras to know what he’s talking about. ¿
SPECIFICATIONS: RIVIERA 565 SUV
Fuel capacity: 3500lt
Water capacity: 750lt
Sleeping capacity: 6-8 persons
Power: 2 x Volvo IPS 900 700hp pod drives
Base price: $1,695,000
For more information and dealer locations, go to: riviera.com.au.