Boat Review: Riviera 33

Riviera may not be the No. 1 selling sportfishing boat in North America, but it represents Australia's biggest builder and is certainly a growing marquee here...

Riviera may not be the No. 1 selling sportfishing boat in North America, but it represents Australia's biggest builder and is certainly a growing marquee here. And before you discount an Aussie boat out of hand, Riviera just introduced a North American headquarters in Florida that handles any and all service and sales problems beyond the knowledge of the dealer network.

Another fact you should appreciate is that Australians battle some pretty tough sea conditions and build their vessels accordingly. While Riviera produces a good number of flybridge yachts up to 60 feet, interestingly enough the company's latest entry is also its smallest - at 37 feet. The company figures that the 33 model, with twin electronically controlled Volvo Penta D6 diesels rated at 310-hp each, uses approximately 25 percent less fuel than its 40-footer does.

The Riviera 33 appeals to me for its many throwbacks to earlier designs. For example, you can opt for a lower helm station, which means that you'll have windows across the front of the cabin instead of solid fiberglass. Most people have forgotten how bright and airy a salon can be with a forward window. And those same people have no idea how warm and cozy you can be during wet, rough weather from the vantage point of an enclosed pilothouse.

But Riviera didn't get too bogged down in tradition; the company uses a state-of-the-art exhaust system by George von Widmann. This system vents the exhaust underwater with virtually no back pressure. You won't find a quieter system.

Each Riviera consists of handlaid fiberglass, solid in the bottom and cored in the deck and superstructure. External layers include isophthalic gelcoat and vinylester resin for maximum protection against osmotic blistering. As should be the case in every offshore boat, Riviera installs a watertight collision bulkhead forward in every hull.

The foredeck features a large anchor locker, vertical windlass, stainless-steel anchor roller and freshwater washdown as standard equipment. You'll find a sturdy bow rail and adequate handholds as you make your way back to the cockpit from the chores up front.

Climbing up to and using the flybridge feels secure as well. The optional hardtop provides excellent overhead handholds, and a full-width aft rail makes a good spot to mount additional rod holders. I also like the starboard-side helm as guests can come and go without making the helmsman move out of the way. And no,

Specifications
LOA 37'7"
BEAM 12'7"
DRAFT 3'3"
WEIGHT 19,800 lb.
FUEL 264 gal.
WATER 103 gal.
POWER T 310-hp D6's

the view of the cockpit isn't compromised from this vantage point. Forward of the helm console, the 33 provides comfortable guest seating on an athwartship settee.

Belowdecks Riviera fit a lot of amenities into a mere 37 feet. A sizable dinette to port faces a chair and an entertainment center opposite. The galley, with everything you'd need for weekending, sits just forward opposite the full head with separate stand-up, glass shower stall and vacu-flush toilet. All countertops are made from a granite substitute called Granicoat. Finally, a wonderfully large queen-sized berth on centerline in the forepeak boasts a separate entry to the head and beautiful cherrywood joinerwork.

The engine compartment gets a "flowcoat" finish that is not only nonporous for easy maintenance, but also fire-retardant. And since safety is always a concern for true offshore boats, Riviera mounts fuel shutoff valves at the flybridge helm, along with manual controls for the state-of-the-art fire-suppression system. The engines also receive a generous helping of thermal and acoustic insulation to keep the living quarters and cockpit isolated from the engine room noises and the standard 5-kW generator.

Of course, the heart of a fishing boat - the cockpit - must have certain features. The only optional fishing items on the Riviera 33 include outriggers, coaming pads, a livewell in the transom, additional rod holders and a fighting chair. Fish boxes, a rigging station, tackle storage, a bait freezer and a transom tuna door all come as standard fare.

Riviera offers a well-built, seaworthy boat with excellent factory support here in the United States and all at a competitive price. I'd say that constitutes something well worth investigating.