Some of the black magic of boatbuilding is knowing when to mess with success. That is, how do you know when to replace or redesign a popular model? And a more critical question: How much should you change it? Too much may lose the boat’s constituency; too little runs the risk of it going stale.
Riviera’s 61 Flybridge is a perfect example of this conundrum. She was neither old nor outdated. Introduced in 2008 as a much-improved version of the Riviera 60, she featured a Frank Mulder-designed hull with 12½ degrees of deadrise aft that is a model of offshore competence, efficiency, and seakeeping. In fact, the design worked so well, more than one company rep told me she is the best-running Riviera in the lineup. So it’s not at all surprising that in updating the boat and renaming her the 63 Enclosed Flybridge (to more accurately reflect her actual LOA), Riviera engineers pretty much left the hull form alone, with the exception of slightly widening the strakes in the foresections to enhance planing. Also retained are the propeller pockets that keep draft to a moderate (for a 64-footer) 5 feet 2 inches. These integrate with the 63’s underwater exhaust system, which on our test boat kept interior sound levels to a relatively quiet 70 decibels at WOT despite her muscular optional engines.
When the original 61 was introduced exactly three years before Riviera unveiled the 63 Enclosed Flybridge at the 2011 Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, she was offered in both three- and four-cabin versions, and those options remain. The four-cabin model, with a pair of rather tight bunk rooms along the starboard side, is clearly designed for serious anglers or a family with children or grandchildren. The three-cabin variation, which I tested, uses the space that would have been devoted to those staterooms to expand the already generous forward VIP by adding a double settee and a dedicated laundry locker. Another indication of just how focused Riviera is on luxury in this boat, the 63 master gets new large hull-side windows that include opening ports on each side (with helm alarms).
Another change is the total fuel capacity, which has decreased from 1,731 gallons in one tank to 1,493 gallons split between a 1,295-gallon midship tank and a 198-gallon tank in the lazarette. (A transfer pump is standard.) I was unable to contact an engineer for an explanation, but I’m guessing the change is designed to shift some weight aft for quicker planing. (Our test boat’s running angle stayed right around five degrees on plane.) It certainly worked during my test; even with six people and about 800 gallons of fuel aboard, the 63 jumped on plane in less than 10 seconds. And despite the fact that she was powered by a pair of optional 1,572-horsepower Caterpillar C32s (1,150-horsepower CAT C18 ACERTs are standard), she still managed a range of better than 400 miles at any rpm but WOT. Now that’s something of a magic trick.
: 56,450 lb.
: 1,493 gal.
: 264 gal.
: 2/1,150-hp CAT C18 ACERT diesels
: 2/1,572-hp Caterpillar C32 diesels
Palm Beach single side-mount engine control levers; livewells; rodholders; outriggers; barstools in saloon.
Air temperature: 71°F; humidity: 45%; seas: flat; load: 800 gal. fuel, 200 gal. water, 6 persons, 100 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way average measured w/onboard GPS. GPH taken via CAT display. Range 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.