For a company that claims to be just as interested in the family aspects of boating as in the fishing ones, Riviera sure does make a well-planned fishing boat. So it was no surprise to discover that at a 712-knot trolling speed, the Riviera 41 created only minor turbulence stretching back to the first wave, leaving a pair of perfect clean-water alleys for your baits.
Jam the throttles forward and this boat jumps onto plane in about five seconds – even with an empty forward fuel tank. While cruising, you get a sudden burst of speed when you advance the throttles, showing great midrange response.
With winds blowing out of the east at 25 knots, we ran in a 2-foot chop on the Intracoastal Waterway heading toward what I knew would be a potentially deadly experience in the stiff, wind-against-tide conditions we found at the Stuart Inlet. As I approached the surf breaking across the mouth of the inlet, I could only imagine what the Gulf Stream would look like.
Much to the chagrin of the captain and Mike Scruggs, president of Riviera North America, I dropped the speed back and headed into the maelstrom. As soon as I hit the 5-foot swells, I added to their white knuckles by turning sideways and shifting to neutral. The Riviera 41 exhibited a moderate roll moment with very gentle transitions, even during this extreme challenge.
Negotiating turns in these heavy seas would have been easier had Riviera included power-assist steering rather than straight hydraulic. Despite that, the boat responds exceptionally well to hard turns, reversing course in about four boat lengths.
On the way back in through the inlet, I also discovered the Riviera 41 rides the back of a wave in total control, and overtaking following seas caused no sheer.
Riviera offers Cummins QSC 500 (500 hp) diesels as standard equipment on the 41, but you can also choose to power it with 540 and 600 hp Cummins (all with SmartCraft electronic gauges and electronic throttle and shift).
This 41 hides a tremendous amount of storage, including a huge belowdecks pantry in the galley. Other features I particularly appreciate about the interior are the opening aft window in the salon, making for terrific air circulation. The all-glass cockpit door also provides more ambient light than usual.
Riviera offers a lower helm-station option as well. You can bet that with windows across the front of the salon rather than a fiberglass wall, sitting in the salon will feel almost like being outside in the action.
Riviera has steadily been improving its engine compartments. While the engine spaces seemed a bit tight on past models, the space on this 41 was very well laid out, and all maintenance points proved remarkably accessible for a 41-footer.
Riviera puts all spaces to great use up on the flybridge. By moving the helm outboard to starboard, Riviera eliminated the need for the captain to move out of the way each time a guest wants to sit in the companion seat. And since both seats sit right at the aft bridge rail, you get a good view of the cockpit from the helm, unless, of course, you opt for the solid sunshade over the forward end of the cockpit. Personally, I’d go for a foldaway shade for fishing purposes. And one other feature sets this boat apart from most of its competition: A curved ladder makes climbing up to the flybridge much easier.
I’m pleased to report that standard equipment also includes a step and handhold on the transom for exiting the water in an emergency. Other neat features include pop-up cleats for fenders. And finally, since the walkway is wider than on many boats twice this size, I found walking to the bow with a fish-laden rod in one hand exceedingly easy and secure. – Dean Travis Clarke
Max Power……T 600 hp Cummins QSC 600 common-rail diesels
Riviera Yachts / Stuart, Florida / 772-403-1060 / www.riviera.com.au