Riva – 63 Virtus
Riva, famed Italian builder of some of the world’s most stylish yachts, extends its range with its largest open yacht to date.
Riva has a tough path to tread. Now part of the Ferretti Group, Riva has 170 years of history as a boat builder during which it established itself as the creator of very fashionable wooden runabouts – the classic Riva designs used by the rich and famous during the 50s and 60s. This reputation set Riva up as the best in the business, producing the most elite yachts in the world. Now Riva faces the challenge of maintaining this reputation and this 63 Virtus is the latest of their line to rise to the challenge.
Riva has built its reputation on open, luxurious sports cruisers, and this 63 is now the largest in their open range. The challenge has been to put the Riva style into a larger size. They have achieved a stunning result and if visual appeal is what counts, then this 63 is a winner. “Riva is an extraordinary brand”, said Norberto Ferretti at the launch of the 63. “It always manages to innovate, creating new cutting edge models whilst still maintaining the charm and magic which have characterised it for over 170 years”.
This sports cruiser is all hull, with only the windscreen and the mast rising above the deck line. This makes for a very deep hull, and to reduce the apparent height, the topsides have been divided up. There is a long line of recessed windows running down the front, followed by a scalloped channel that leads into the aft air intakes. There is a pronounced reverse sheer and every line speaks of performance.
The Virtus 63 is two different boats merged into one. For daytime fun-in-the-sun, everything is in the cockpit, while below decks offers Riva’s traditional sophistication. The cockpit space up top has a dining area, aft sunbed, bbq counter, and of course the helm. Down below, the mood is transformed into one of tranquillity, where the Riva quality really shines through; you are embraced by the rich fabrics and quality craftsmanship. There is generous space for quality living and all the facilities you might require for a sophisticated lifestyle. This is the true Riva experience.
Back to the deck and of course there is quality here as well. The main feature of the cockpit is the two opposing settees with a fold out table between them. The starboard settee can be moved across to close up the table seating when dining and this still leaves a clear passageway behind it. Close by is the barbecue and bar counter for al-fresco meal preparation with the full galley below if you want more. There is more seating around the base of the curved mast that rakes forward to support the many antennas that modern electronics require.
The sunbed aft looks supremely comfortable and below it is the tender garage where a simple fold out slipway system makes launch and recovery quick and easy. The ring fairleads aft look very sexy but their sharp edges could lead to ropes chafing if moored up for any length of time.
The helm station is very practical as well as looking good. There is a three-seat bench seat facing the vertical wheel and both wheel and throttle are well placed for easy use. This yacht is so easy to drive compared with many modern yachts with just the wheel and throttle to demand your attention. There are flaps to help trim the boat of course but these are rarely needed. You just open the throttles and go.
At the top of the dash, where it should be, is the electronic navigation display then three small displays, the two outer ones giving engine information and the central one, yacht information including the flap settings. To the right of the throttles is the thruster control and the flap switches, so everything is found where you expect it, which of course contributes to the easy driving of this performance yacht.
The fly in the ointment is the windscreen. The stylists have insisted on a tinted screen and in the bright sun of the sea trial, this darkened screen and the reflections on it from the dash below compromised the view ahead, and it was hard to pick out detail. I had to stand on tip-toe to see over the screen and when you have a boat travelling at close to 40 knots, this is not a happy situation. I was under the impression that under EU regulations tinted windscreens had been eliminated but the Riva technical people assure that this is not the case.
If you want sun protection, there is a Bimini that rises from around the front of the helm under electric power. This is secure enough to run with it erected so you get the shelter when you need it. It would have been good to see some more handholds in the expansive cockpit to give better security when moving about at speed.
It is down below where you really find the Riva quality. On the test boat, a natural oak was the chosen wood for the furniture, for some of the panelling and on the decks. This panelling has been cleverly matched to the darker tones of leather and polished lacquer work. Each 63 can have an interior design of the owner’s choosing, but the one on the test boat, with its excellent sound proofing, made this a haven of rest. Large, long side windows enhance the feeling of space and there is generous headroom.
The layout comprises two main staterooms, one forward and one aft of the saloon, and these are both of such high quality and both with ensuite bathrooms that either could pass muster as the master cabin. Then there is a small, third cabin tucked away on the port side, which with its two bunks is really best described as a kid’s cabin. This one has to share the day head with its shower that lies at the foot of the stairs on the starboard side.
The forward stateroom has such a welcoming appeal with its large bed surrounded by wrap around windows and panelling. There are plenty of stowages and shelves including a large closet and here light colours help to emphasise the space. The attached bathroom is more compact than the one for the aft stateroom and that might be an owner’s deciding factor on which one to choose.
The stateroom aft has a large bed but this has its head on the outboard side so there is no chance of a view through the hull windows although these are set fairly high anyway. Large mirrors help to enhance the space and a drop down panel below the TV serves as either a desk or a vanitory unit. The quality can be seen in the white leather bed surround. This is an intimate stateroom where the space belies the fact that it is installed in only a 63 footer.
The focus has to be on the central saloon where a large table makes dining a great experience. This is served by the comprehensively fitted galley opposite where there is equipment for sophisticated meal preparation. The whole galley can be closed off when not in use, transforming it into an oak enshrined bar counter.
All of this interior is appealing, but the 63 is designed for the open seas as well, and here it really performs. The Mediterranean was not in a cooperative mood when we set out in the morning with the wind at around 20 knots creating challenging short, four-foot steep seas. You always feel a certain nervousness when you open the throttles in these conditions but the 63 soon shows that it can perform in the rough as well as the smooth. It became a joy to drive this highly responsive and exciting sports cruiser, taking the speed up close to 40 knots with that windscreen at least offering good shelter from the wind.
Everything felt positive about this boat, with the deep vee hull and its 17-degree deadrise treating the angry-looking sea with some disdain. This is a heavy boat, turning the scales at over 30 tonnes and with this weight it becomes less affected by the waves and performed faultlessly. Riva claim they have achieved over 40 knots with the yacht in light conditions. When a yacht appears to be built primarily for style it came as some surprise to find such superb performance. In the marina, the idle speed is a bit brutal, but a trolling valve brings the gears down to a more controllable speed.
The power units are a pair of V-12 MAN diesels, each one producing 1360 horsepower and these are coupled first to vee-drive gearboxes and then to a conventional shaft and propeller system. Increasing speed through the 20-knot region there was some whine from the gearboxes but this disappeared at speed.
You see quality and craftsmanship at every turn, and it was such a pleasure to find this coupled with precision performance. The Riva sports cruiser range has grown in size with this new addition but it has also grown in stature.
Technical Specifications – Riva 63 Virtus
Draught (loaded) 1.6m
Displacement (laden) 32,367kg
Fuel capacity 1,457litres
Water capacity 658.9litres
Max speed (light) 40.5kts
Range at 35 kts 255nm
Engines 2 x 1360 hp MAN V-12 diesels
Propulsion V-drive then shafts and props
Design In-house AYT and Officina Italiana design