The latest in technology and propulsion combine with style and strength.
Southern California’s May gray is in full effect on test day, but our test boat, the Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht, is sky(ish) blue — Stars and Stripes blue, to be precise — and its name lifts my spirits even more: Mood Adjustor. Any day spent on a boat instead of at the desk is a mood adjustor, so spending just such a day on a vessel with stylish, sleek lines and an attitude-elevating name is a bonus.
While the technical rundown I am about to receive proves interesting and noteworthy, I am not even off the swim platform — hydraulic, to lower into the water — before the first feature of note appears. Under a fully finished lid on the transom is a barbecue center with a grill, a stainless backsplash and LED lighting. Beneath that, behind a beautifully integrated transom door that lifts electrically, is the tender garage, which can fit a 2.7-meter dinghy (roughly 8 feet, 8 inches) and includes a winch.
Up two steps to either side of the transom is the cockpit, which features a bench settee aft, an L-shaped settee to starboard and a wet bar with a refrigerator, an ice-maker and a sink to port. Sidedecks lead to the bow where a double sun lounge with adjustable headrests beckons — just not on test day. Speakers and cupholders add to the bow’s relaxation vibe.
The aft bulkhead is all glass, and windows pretty much wrap around the main cabin, so plenty of natural light gets in. The center third of the bulkhead is a door that slides to port, and the upper half of the starboard third of the bulkhead swings outward and secures to the hardtop. With the door and window open, the main deck is one space from the transom to the helm station. Open the large sunroof and the area feels like outdoor space.
The galley is immediately to port. The C-shaped countertop holds a two-burner stovetop and a sink. Underneath are drawers, a convection/microwave oven, and refrigerator/freezer drawers, and above are cabinets. Its location is ideal for serving food to diners at the C-shaped dinette settee with room for four or five opposite the galley or at the settees in the cockpit.
At the bottom of the centerline steps is an atrium that gets tons of natural light from the windshield overhead. Immediately to port is a head that serves the second stateroom and as the day head. It includes a separate shower stall and a linen closet with room for the optional washer/dryer unit. To starboard is a five-person settee that can convert to a berth. A TV occupies a wall opposite the settee.
Aft, at about amidships, is the second stateroom, which has an unusual layout. To the left upon entering is a hanging locker, and a step past that is a berth that runs along the hull side. Peek around the corner, however, to port, and one finds two more single berths running athwartships. They can be moved together to form an almost-queen-size bed. It’s an interesting layout, and one that kids will love.
The master stateroom is forward, its island queen berth situated on the centerline. An overhead hatch and hull windows ensure natural light enters the space. A cedar-lined hanging locker sits to starboard, and a cedar-lined storage locker with shelves is to port. Drawers provide storage under the berth. The en suite head includes a basin sink on a vanity top that has storage above and below, a vacuum-flush toilet and a glass-enclosed full-height shower stall.
Twin captain’s chairs front a portside helm station that is stylish and well laid out. Black leather, to match the chairs, covers most of the surfaces, and everything important is close at hand. Twin 17-inch Volvo Glass Bridge displays dominate the upper face of the dash. A CZone display — yes, the yacht has digital switching, a feature that makes controlling the yacht’s systems incredibly easy — a 7-inch Volvo display, a VHF radio and a Muir anchor instrument display (it provides a digital readout of the anchor rode being deployed or retrieved) occupy the lower face with the steering wheel, which is to port.
Just left of the steering wheel, on a narrow, flat extension of the dash that runs along the bulkhead, are the engine throttles, the joystick and the Garmin Remote Input Device (GRID), which controls the MFDs remotely (they use a Garmin interface), so the captain doesn’t have to give up his comfortable position in the chair to touch the screens.
Our test boat has a FLIR camera system with four cameras aboard, the M400 models that are military grade, which Emerald Pacific Yachts’ Will MacIntyre demonstrates for me. They are crystal clear in day mode, and the zoom is impressive, reaching across the harbor without losing too much resolution, and the thermal night-vision mode is excellent as always. It’s what Flir is known for.
One feature our test boat has that is becoming more popular on a range of boats is a Seakeeper 5 gyro stabilizer. We had to create our own waves to really give it a test, but it proved its value during several before-and-after tests on San Diego Bay. The boat went from rolling with the waves to solidly level in about one and a half rolls.
Once clear of Americas Cup Harbor’s breakwater, we cranked up the twin 600 hp Volvo Penta D8 diesels, a newer engine from Volvo that is aimed at boats in the 50- to 55-foot range, and got to business. We reached a top speed of 33.8 knots at the engines’ wide-open throttle of 3100 rpm. The diesels, connected to IPS pod drives, were burning 63 gph at top speed. At 2600 rpm, the 4800 SY was cruising along at 24.7 knots and burning 44 gph, while 2800 rpm yielded 27.7 mph and 51 gph.
As is the case with Volvo engines connected to pod drives, fuel efficiency is remarkably consistent across the top 20 percent or so of the rpm range. Data from company testing, which were quite similar to the numbers we gathered, show a cruising range of 253 miles to 277 miles (based on 90 percent of usable fuel) between 2500 and 3100 rpm, with a gallons-per-mile burn of 1.8 to 2.0. If an owner really needed to stretch his range for a particular leg of a trip and didn’t mind keeping pace with the sailboats, he could reach just beyond 1,000 miles at 7 knots, and more than 1,700 at 5 knots. Now, with a boat that can zip along at 34 knots, that kind of pace isn’t the norm, but it’s good to know the capability is there.
The sporty steering wheel makes driving the 4800 SY a breeze. During hard-over turns, I’m able to control things with just a finger — not something I’d recommend but try just to gauge how easy it is to turn the wheel — and the boat leans into the turns like it’s in a hurry to veer off sharply before the cops show up, though we are certainly doing nothing wrong. Even as we are looking at the water in the side windows during a turn, the yacht feels stable and balanced. The hull’s full keel helps with the tracking and turns.
We put ourselves beam to a large charter vessel that’s plying the bay and wait for its wake with the Seakeeper engaged and the Volvo Dynamic Positioning System activated. The 4800 doesn’t rock and doesn’t leave a very small circle the DPS is married to at this point. The station-keeping capability of the system has improved in the decade of its existence. Later, in the harbor, we set the DPS again, and what I notice is how quiet and smooth the system is. Granted, it’s not being tested much at this point, but on IPS boats from several years ago, the actions of the pods were more sudden and stronger, even for small movements. That has been ironed out in the latest iterations.
With the 4800 Sport Yacht, Riviera continues its expansion within the sport yacht segment specifically — it’s the fourth model in that line, after the 6000, 5400 and 3600 — and the luxury yacht space in general. Aimed at coastal cruising couples or families with a couple of kids, the 4800 SY takes advantage of the latest in technology and propulsion while delivering style and the strength Riviera is known for.