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September 21, 2007

Riviera 33 Flybridge Convertible

Riviera's 33 Flybridge Convertible is a winning combination of form and function with excellent fishing range.
Riviera 33 Rlybridge Convertible

With a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and the Great Barrier Reef for proving grounds, it's easy to see why Australia's Riviera Yachts is the largest boat-builder in the Southern Hemisphere. And if they keep on building fishing boats like the new 33 Flybridge Convertible, the demand isn't likely to slow down any time soon.

Thanks to Florida Yacht Sales in St. Petersburg, I was able to hop aboard Riviera's latest model during a lull in the hectic fall boat show season. My expectations were high based on experience with other Aussie builders, and Riviera delivered, especially in terms of performance and overall value.

The hull of the 33 is hand-laid solid fiberglass with resin-impregnated cored sections in the deck and cabin to reduce weight. A longitudinal and transverse stringer system adds strength and rigidity, plus a watertight forward bulkhead is included for safety. The hull design also features underwater exhaust venting and propeller shaft pockets. With the exhaust going underwater instead of out the transom, noise and fumes are drastically reduced. The pockets are multi-functional as well, providing shallower draft and better forward thrust and efficiency with less power.

LOA 37' 7"
Beam 12' 7"
Draft 3' 3"
Weight 19,800 lbs.
Deadrise 15 ¿
Fuel 264 gals.
Water 103 gals.
Price w/ twin 310-hp Volvo Penta D6 diesel engines $264,664

Our test boat was equipped with the standard common-rail Volvo D6 diesel engines turning 310 hp apiece, which were more than adequate propulsion-wise. At wide open throttle with nearly a full tank of fuel and 40 gallons of water aboard, the GPS topped out at 33.0 mph (3,600 rpm) while burning 35.4 gallons per hour. At a more refined cruising speed of 25.5 mph (3,000 rpm), the boat only used 22.6 gph. Factoring in a 10 percent safety reserve and 264-gallon fuel capacity means the 33 has an effective range of 233 nautical miles.

Handling was equally impressive. The matched Volvo electronic controls and hydraulic steering made maneuvering a snap and the boat spun quickly and easily. We ate through wakes like a koala bear with a bag of eucalyptus leaves and stayed dry at the flybridge helm regardless of compass heading. To say the 33 is rock-solid would be an understatement.

Running the 33 is an easy proposition from the flybridge. The helm station is ergonomically arranged with controls and electronics mounted in easy reach, and visibility is unhindered thanks to the standard bimini top. Twin helm chairs and an L-shaped lounge seat forward offer room for a sizeable crew. The enclosed storage compartments can accommodate tons of gear and equipment. There is also a built-in icemaker. If the weather is too nasty for top-side operation, a secondary helm is located inside the cabin.

The cockpit is spacious for a boat of this size and features all the necessities for blue-water fishing.

Down under the flybridge

A starboard tackle station with freshwater sink provides gear storage, while a top-loading refrigerator cabinet is located in the port corner. Raw-water wash down is standard, along with a large fishbox with pump-out in the cockpit sole. The locking transom door includes a freshwater shower. Notable angling options include a re-circulating live well on the transom centerline and a stainless-steel rocket launcher on the flying bridge overhang. For a quick status check on the bait, the live well has an acrylic window.

With its ample range and live-aboard amenities, the 33 Convertible is well-suited for fishing new destinations. The forward master stateroom has a queen berth with innerspring mattress, storage beneath and a hanging locker. The roomy head includes a vanity, shower stall, vacu-flush head and holding tank. The galley is outfitted with a refrigerator, electric cooktop, microwave oven and sink, while the salon offers a leather dinette that converts into a double bunk and a full entertainment system. A 5 kW Onan generator is also included in the base price.

Bottom line? The Riviera 33 Flybridge Convertible is a heck of a boat for the money and one of Australia's best exports since Nicole Kidman. Riviera Yachts, Riviera Beach, FL; (561) 472-8800;