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Race: Inside Riva's First 50 Metre Superyacht

Race: Inside Riva's First 50 Metre Superyacht

This 50-metre Riva takes the storied brand into a whole new size bracket. Carlo Riva would have been proud, says Risa Merl

When the Riva 50 Metri made her public debut at the Monaco Yacht Show in 2019, the name emblazoned on her transom – Race – gave a hint as to who her owner was. And in case there was any doubt, the treasure trove of Ferrari memorabilia on board and a very unusual automotive-inspired bridge made it crystal clear.

As a board member, chairman of product development and 13.2 per cent stakeholder in the Ferretti Group, parent company of Riva, Piero Ferrari’s choice of builder is unsurprising. But this famous engineer’s passion for the brand is genuinely infectious. “Riva details are distinct from any other yacht,” he enthuses.

At 49.9 metres, Race is the largest-ever Riva yacht, proudly previewed in June 2019 at Venice’s Arsenal, during an exclusive client event. She’s also the first to emerge from the Riva Superyachts Division, which was established in 2014 at the Ferretti Group Superyacht Yard in Ancona, where its CRN, Custom Line and Pershing superyachts are built. The name Riva most vividly evokes the sexy runabouts that made the brand famous in the 1960s and 70s. But Carlo Riva always envisioned a place for larger Riva boats, as seen in his collaboration with De Vries (Feadship) and later CRN on the 24-metre Riva Caravelle series, and his personal yacht, 30.5-metre Vespucci, which was delivered in 1978 and relaunched in 2018 after a thorough refit.

Two exterior styles, each drawing inspiration from classic Rivas, are offered on the same technical platforms in the Riva Superyachts series, in 50-, 60-, 70- and 95-metre sizes. This first design is inspired by the 1964 Riva Caravelle series. The second option is sportier, with rounded lines and a more aggressive profile, taken from the Riva coupé yachts and seen on the current Riva 76 Perseo and 88 Domino Super.

The Riva 50 Metri’s exterior and interior were created by Officina Italiana Design in concert with Riva’s in-house team. “Race takes inspiration from the Caravelle, which was a true masterpiece conceived by Carlo Riva,” says Sergio Beretta, CEO of Officina Italiana Design, which he founded with chief designer Mauro Micheli. “The challenge was to innovate without forgetting the DNA of the Riva brand.”

In essence, Race is a highly modernised take on the classic Caravelle. Both yachts feature parallelogram windows, as well as forward-sloping lines that give the impression of movement. During the Monaco show, Race had an enviable position at the very end of Jetée Lucciana, so you could admire her silver hull and clean and simple lines. “Race has a great personality,” says Micheli. “She has three straight lines that define each level. The design is clean, and we stayed away from overworked, elaborate or redundant lines and shapes, both in the exterior and the interior.”

The exterior paint job is cool grey with a muted 20 per cent gloss finish, so as to avoid reflections seeping inside from her large windows. “The owner wanted lots of light and panoramic views,” says Beretta. “As with any other Riva yacht, we have paid great attention to the use of glass that gives light to the interior and puts the owner in contact with the surrounding nature.” Emphasis has also been given to external living spaces. According to Micheli, Ferrari wanted to have cosy spaces outside – like the forward deck lounge – where he could enjoy the yacht while under way.

Ferrari was hands-on in every aspect of the build. “We worked with the owner from the start,” says Stefano de Vivo, the Ferretti Group’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We decided each detail with him, and he was involved in the project from the first day of thinking about the layout until the decision of the position of the plates at the end. This yacht is very much a part of him.” Ferrari’s previous boat was a Custom Line Navetta 37 motor yacht, and he also has a Riva 76 Bahamas.

One of the first things that de Vivo points out is the use of lightweight materials derived from the aviation industry: a sandwiched panel made of fibreglass and Nomex – the latter is also used in Formula One cars. A veneer goes over the top to give the look of wood, but it’s much lighter.

This veneer is found on all exterior panels, ceilings and the built-in exterior furniture. “By decreasing the weight, you have much better results in terms of fuel consumption,” says de Vivo. “At 14 knots, Race burns 300 litres per hour with the engines and generators on. It’s a very good result for us.” Powered by twin 1,360hp MTU 8V 4000 M63 diesel engines, this full-displacement yacht in aluminium alloy reaches a top speed of 15 knots and has a cruising range of 3,500 nautical miles at 11 knots.

It was also vital that the first Riva 50 have the essence of an iconic Riva. This translated to an obsession with the material selection and a bevy of little details – even the stainless-steel drains on the deck are emblazoned with the Riva logo written in miniature. Custom doorknobs, similar to those seen on the Riva Dolcevita, were moulded to fit the owner’s hand perfectly.

Race has a holistic design, the same materials used inside and out to create a sense of harmony. Exterior features are brought inside, such as the teak decking of a classic Riva, which is found in the dayhead and the corridor leading to the bridge. All the materials used are familiar to the Riva family lineage – rich mahogany, gleaming stainless steel and lots of leather. A darker tone of mahogany was chosen to specifically mimic the colour used on the Aquariva models.

The interior of Race is modern, masculine and distinctively Riva. There isn’t a dizzying array of materials; instead the design team concentrated on a uniform colour palette of grey and white, accentuated by mahogany, stainless steel, white statuario marble with grey veining and an abundance of glass, like the glass-framed main stairwell. Narrow strips of mahogany on the ceilings in the saloons and cabins add dimension and hide the air-conditioning output, as the air filters out between the wooden slats. These slats are carried throughout the boat, from the main saloon to the hallways and the guest cabins.

The dining room has a soft grey carpet, and a pantry directly off this space hosts a dumb waiter serving three decks from the lower deck galley. “Following the owner’s wishes, the galley is situated on the lower deck – this is just one of the layout options of the Riva 50,” says Micheli. “This allowed us to obtain more space on the main deck and create a unique master suite.”

Moving the galley allows the entire forward main deck to be laid out to fit an owner’s needs. Ferrari opted for a media room just before the master. Videoworks designed the entertainment system, which is outfitted with James speakers. This cosy spot is a shrine to all things Ferrari, including a painting of the owner’s car and Formula 1 memorabilia signed by the winning drivers.

A glass wall separates the media room from the hallway, and an electric curtain in a silver metallic finish can close off this space for privacy. With an en suite off the media room, it can be converted to an additional guest suite, bringing the overall accommodation capacity up to 12. Though Ferrari usually has only four to six guests on board, it is good to know for a future Riva 50 Metri owner that this is possible. Below decks are four guest cabins – three doubles and one twin. The materials are the same that you would find in the owner’s area, with a prevalence of leather and grey tones. “We wanted the design to flow seamlessly everywhere,” says de Vivo.

The interior volumes were arranged to allow Race to come in just under 500GT. Some compromises had to be made, as in the upper saloon, which is a bit smaller than you’d typically find on a 50-metre yacht. Instead of being full-beam, the designers opted for walk-around decks outside.

In order to make the space feel larger, windows inside the upper saloon descend on either side and the aft doors open fully, letting a breeze come through and creating an indoor/outdoor living area. The controls for the windows are toggle switches, like those found on old Rivas such as Vespucci.

The upper aft deck dining table, which seats 10, is made of Corian, just like a table you’d find on a smaller Riva. “Corian is coming back in fashion – it’s easier to clean and you can polish it in case of scratches,” says de Vivo. The mesh chairs by Dedon are ergonomically designed and so comfortable – you might sit down at dinner and never want to get up. But the sundeck beckons you to lounge for a post-dinner drink with loftier views. It is covered by a carbon-fibre hardtop with a forward angle, matching the geometry of the exterior. The stylish lounge chairs are crafted from mahogany bases with leather straps that raise or lower the back. Even in these tiny details the Riva lineage is clear.

That goes for the bridge as well, where wood floors were chosen to match a classic Riva. “This is a technical area, but we think of it as a guest area,” says de Vivo. “So the finishes and quality of the interior are the same.” The steering wheel is a work of art, custom made and formed from a single piece of titanium. “The price of the boat includes everything but the wheel,” he jokes. But it’s the helm seat that really catches the eye. It is not your usual captain’s chair, but a genuine driver’s seat from a Ferrari California. It had to be augmented so it could work on board a yacht.

“It was a big challenge really because chairs coming from Ferrari cars work differently – you need a key for the electric mechanism of the chair to work, otherwise you can’t move or adjust it,” says de Vivo. “So we had to customise it before installing it – and it took us a lot of time!”

Wing stations are found on either side of the bridge, and there is a forward lounge area where the owner can sit and watch the yacht come into port, staying out of the way of the crew. The sunpads here, which rise via a hydraulic lift, conceal water toys. Of these, the “Ferrari-red” jet ski does not exactly match the cool silver tones of Race. “It would make more sense to have the jet ski in grey, but he didn’t want to repaint it,” says de Vivo. “So we built this to hide the jet ski.”

A seven-metre tender is held below in the garage, which has a shell door for launching. When it is launched, the space is transformed into a beach club with loose furnishings. There is enough space for the area to be used as a gym even when under way with the tender inside.

The second Riva 50 Metri is currently in build at the Ferretti Group Superyacht Yard in Ancona, with delivery slated for early 2021, before the summer season. According to Ferretti Group CEO Alberto Galassi, seeing the Riva Superyachts Division come to life was a dream of Carlo Riva.

“I’d like to try and cruise on her,” Riva said when he first saw the renderings of the 50-metre yacht that would become Race. He was taken by the boat’s simple yet elegant lines, says Micheli. Sadly, Carlo Riva passed away before Race was launched and did not get to see her completed. But his dream of the Riva brand growing, literally and figuratively, has certainly been realised.

All photography courtesy of Alberto Cocchi

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