The Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht is a flybridge cruiser powered by twin 435-hp Volvo Penta diesels driving through IPS pod drives. It has two staterooms and one head, four entertaining venues, and a large flying bridge and cockpit. She has been designed for easy single-handed operation by an owner/operator for coastal and near-island cruising and watersports.
|Length Overall||43' 6'' / 13.25 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||10.8 sec.|
|0 to 30||27.1 sec.|
|Load||4 persons, 3/5 fuel, full water, 50 lbs. of gear|
1 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
1 x 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600
Contents of Report
The Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht was designed for an active family engaged in watersports of all kinds and who desire to go coastal and near-island cruising. She is versatile and can be used for sportfishing and for scuba diving. But her main mission is cruising and entertaining. She is designed to be easy to handle by a single owner/operator and to provide accommodations for a family or two cruising couples.
Her dry weight is 28,219 lbs. (12,800 kg). With 58% fuel and 100% water aboard, four people and light gear, we had an estimated test weight of 31,219 lbs. (14,161 kg). She comes standard with twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS DuoProp drives with joysticks – the only power package offered.
Top Speed. We recorded a top speed of 33.4 knots at 3570 rpm. With pod drives we often don’t get a bump in performance at mid range, but with this boat we did, and it came at 84% of full throttle.
Best cruise came in at 3000 rpm at 25.4 knots, where we burned 31 gph, getting .8 nmpg for a range of 291 nautical miles. Sometimes conditions may dictate a slower speed, and at 2750 rpm we went 21.1 knots, getting .8 nmpg for a range of 273 nautical miles.
At trolling speeds, fuel efficiency is of course maximized, and at 6.3 knots and 1000 rpm, the Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht could get 3.8 nmpg, and theoretically, she could travel up the Australian coast from Sydney to Cairns, over 1300 nautical miles north, without refueling.
The acceleration times we recorded were: time-to-plane 10.8 seconds, 0-to-20 mph in 13.2 seconds and 0-to-30 mph in 27.1 seconds.
Operational Aspects of the 39 Sports Motor Yacht
Flying Bridge Helm
The helm pod on the flying bridge has been designed in a symmetrical manner with a raised gray center panel which looks attractive and compartmentalizes functions to some degree. The two navigation screens maximize the space at 12” (.30 m) and the control binnacle is on the left side of the wheel.
The joystick on the left is handy for port side docking, and it and the wheel can both be reached while standing. This is any important consideration, as on some Euro-styled boats, the operator must bend over to reach these controls.
Anchoring. To the right of the wheel is the standard Muir anchor control and chain counter, so the amount of chain out is known precisely. A chain counter is an absolute necessity for night operation, and eliminates the need for marking chain, which usually becomes hard to read (and remember) after a couple of years.
The standard VHF radio has been mounted to the right. The seat is 39-1/2” wide which is wide enough for an adult and child. There is a recessed tray on the aft edge of the console which is a good place for cell phones, cameras, and binoculars. We would like to see Riviera install an electrical outlet and USB port here.
Bulwark Height. It is important to note that the frame of the wind deflector forward is 30” (.76 m) off the deck and the fiberglass bulwark is relatively high for this class of boat, which is trying to keep a low profile. This makes the boat more practical for cruising European canals and rivers. Aft the top of the seat back is 28” off the deck.
CZone System. There are not many gauges or switches at the helm because a CZone system comes standard. A 5” (.13 m) CZone screen is in the middle of the dash which makes it handy for both the captain and a companion to monitor and activate electrical equipment.
Riviera has been installing CZone systems for 10 years and this piece of equipment makes managing the boat’s electrical operation simple. Few builders in class make the CZone system standard, but Riviera does it to make boat operation easier for both new and veteran boaters alike.
A CZone key fob allows an owner to light up the boat even before getting aboard. Upon entering the 39, there is a 10” (.25 m) CZone just inside the door to starboard. It has connectivity with an iPad and so from any place on the boat, all of the boat’s electrical systems can be monitored and controlled. That includes all lights, tank levels, air conditioning, generator, engine diagnostics, battery charge, electronics, refrigerator temperatures, underwater lights, watermaker, stereo, TV, and much more – and turn it all off with one touch.
Functions that CZone Controls/Monitors Include—
- • Interior lights
- • Navigation lights
- • Exterior lights
- • Tank levels
- • Air conditioning
- • Generator
- • Engine diagnostics
- • Battery charge
- • Electronics
- • Refrigerator temperatures
- • Underwater lights
- • Watermaker
- • Stereo
- • TV
Overhead Height at Helm? This is an important measurement because many European designed and built boats this size do not have full standing headroom at the helm and the operator must be sitting at all times. Most boaters we know prefer to alternate between sitting and standing, or at least leaning, at the helm – and not be locked into sitting all of the time.
We measured 5’10-1/2” from the helm deck to the overhead, which means most people driving the Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht can stand at the helm – or lean on the bolster – and see out of the windshield. The forward overhead brow comes down 6” (.15 m), which means that height-of-eye can be 5’4” (1.63 m).
Located on the starboard side, the plush helm seat is 42” (1.06 m) wide, which is large enough for two adults, and has individual bolsters. A footrest has been placed ergonomically forward under the dash panel for sitting or leaning. The seat is securely anchored to a wood cabinet, which means that it cannot be lowered or raised.
The standard VHF radio is in a cubby outboard at the level of the captain’s seat which southpaws will like, but the screen is difficult to see. Right-handers will find the placement problematical.
The helm console has a similar design to the one on the flying bridge, but is upholstered in a leather textured vinyl and has a padded stitched raised median strip that houses a compass, the 7” Volvo Penta display, the Fusion stereo control and two rows of lighted accessory toggle switches.
To the right and under the leather wrapped wheel is a recessed tray for cell phones and other things. We’d like to see an electrical outlet and USB port both here.
The control binnacle is to the left, squeezed in between the wheel and the bulkhead and just barely clears the wheel. The control binnacle has several functions, including Trim Assist, Cruise Control, single lever operation, and low speed control – all at the touch of a button.
The joystick is forward of the control binnacle and is in a good position for port side docking. In front of the wheel is a welcome air condition vent and a 12” (.30 m) navigation screen. To the left is a sliding window which helps with docking and fresh air.
Anchoring. To the right of the median strip is a second Muir anchor control and chain counter.
Forward of the helm console is a dark colored dash to reduce glare on the windshield just as we find in an automobile. There is a defogging vent and the three pantograph windshield wipers with freshwater washers.
A third joystick is optional and on our test boat was located at a control station on the starboard side of the cockpit which gives the operator a clear view of the boat’s starboard hull side as well as the stern. It operates just like the other two and makes backing into a slip easy. We recommend it for owners with limited experience in this size boat.
Working on Deck
The side decks on each side of the house are 9-3/4” (.25 m) wide and the bulwarks are 5” (.13 m) high, something we rarely see on this size boat. The safety rails are 24” high aft and even higher forward. Although the outboard safety rails are solid, we’d like to see a hand hold bar along the house wide, which Riviera will be happy to supply.
The engine room air intakes are relatively high on the side of the house, and not in the side of the hull, close to the water.
Ground Tackle System
At the bow we find a standard electric Muir vertical windlass, which has an overload circuit breaker. Also standard is a 35 lb. (16 kg) plow anchor with 114’ (35 m) of galvanized 5/16” chain, among other things. We’d add another 150’ (46 m) of chain, giving the boat 264’ (80 m), the minimum a boat of this caliber should carry.
The chain locker is accessible on the port side, which is important. After a rough passage chain, it can be hopelessly entangled because of the washing machine-like tumbling in the bow. There is a raw water washdown bib located there. To starboard are controls for the windlass and storage.
The most important part of the boat is the engine room, and we find it under the cockpit sole. There is an electrically-actuated ram that picks up the center section of the deck, the table, and stern console all at once at the touch of a button. When the deck is up, the engine room can be accessed from three of its four sides and has virtually unlimited headroom.
The engines are Volvo Penta 435-hp D6 diesels mated to IPS pods and with twin joystick control and other features. The props are forward-facing DuoProp twin sets. The complete system of engines, pods, joysticks, and related equipment carries a 5 year/1,000 hour warranty from Volvo Penta. In order for the warranty to be valid, the maintenance requirements must be assiduously followed.
From the deck all major fluids can be checked as well as the two raw water strainers, because they are mounted high, and not down in the bilge. This is a very good idea because it provides instant verification of obstruction (or not) from the deck, without having to get down in the bilge.
Nevertheless, we’d like to see a step put in to help access this tight space.
Proper Torque on Bolts and Hose Clamps. Riviera has one of the best systems of any boat builder we have seen of making sure all bolts and hose clamps are properly tightened. First, each boat going through production has a manifest of equipment to be installed as well as specifying the exact torque for every bolt and hose clamp on the boat.
Look closely, each installation is marked with a red line crossing the bolt and the mounting plate by the installer. Later, a QC inspector puts a torque wrench on the bolt and checks to make sure it is at the correct setting, and then marks the bolt and mounting plate with a yellow line. The same is true for the hose clamps. With these lines in place, a conscientious owner can periodically visually check the bolts and know they are tight.
Accommodations and Amenities Inspection
The flying bridge is reached from the cockpit by non-skid composite steps that require no maintenance. There are welcome hand holds at the top of the steps just behind the wet bar console. It has a sink with faucet, food prep counter, refrigerator, and a trash basket under the sink. Forward of the console is a bench seat which faces the helm. Under the seat is dedicated storage for filler cushions that we’ll see again in a minute. A voluminous storage compartment is behind a hatch forward.
Dinette/Settee. Immediately behind the helm is the large portside settee. With the helm seatback shifted forward, a U-shaped settee is created with seating on three sides. A fiberglass cocktail table and pedestal come standard and have dedicated storage.
When at anchor and it is time for some sunbathing, three cushions can be pulled out from under the forward seat to a chaise sun pad for two. For those who don’t like shade, a Bimini top comes standard and is held rigidly in place even in 35 knot apparent wind during our test.
The Difference Between the 39 and 395 SUV is the Flybridge
No matter how the 39 Sports Motor Yacht is used, we think that the flying bridge – which is the primary difference between this model and the Riviera 395 SUV – is well worth the 8% up charge because of the vast improvement in living space and utility it gives the boat. While it does add weight and windage, therefore requiring more horsepower and getting lower fuel economy, it offers quite a bit of added utility for the money. In good weather, there is no better place from which to drive the boat, and guests will enjoy the views and breeze. At anchor, it is an ideal venue for a cocktail party or a cookout.
The settee makes into a double chaise for sunning or relaxing at anchor.
Another comfortable place for sun worshipers when at anchor is on the foredeck. The cushions come standard and two chaise lounges can be created.
Swim Platform and Transom
The 39 Sports Motor Yacht comes standard with a stern platform and our test boat had an optional bait prep station affixed to the platform safety rail. The table is a fun place to stand when fishing at anchor in calm water at slow speeds and it holds both rods and drinks. The standard platform itself measures 9’10” (2.99 m) wide by 3’11” (1.19 m) fore and aft and has four freeing ports, but we’d like to see more.
When drift fishing offshore, the boat can rock, the platform can become submerged, and then be bent by the weight of the water when the boat rights itself. Freeing ports in the platform reduce the weight of the water.
Versatile Transom. In the transom is a convenient storage bin that opens aft, ideal for fenders and lines. Above it is the concealed sink and BBQ grill. By giving access to the grill from the platform, valuable space is saved inside the cockpit for guests to mill around at a cocktail party.
Through the transom door to the cockpit, we can see the aft facing bench seat which has an insulated cooler or optional cool box underneath. The teak table has height adjustments – for lunch, cocktails or down low for sunning with the addition of a filler cushion.
Aft Bulkhead Window Opens. Just behind, is a window that opens out on a powerful gas-assisted strut. It brings the outside into the cabin. Since the galley is located aft, food and beverages can be passed outside easily. And the chef will enjoy the fresh air.
Cockpit Seating. When having a cocktail party in the cockpit, men won’t mind hopping up to sit on the coaming which is 28’1/2” (8.55 m) high off the deck. But ladies will appreciate the fold out seat on the port side, in addition, there is more seating against the forward bulkhead.
Extra Seat? To port is a top-opening bin in which to stow gear, but for those who are going to use the boat predominately for entertaining, we would consider having Riviera install an optional fold out seat, which can be done in its post-manufacturing facility.
Cockpit Amenities. Tucked inside the transom at the gate is the hot and cold shower wand and mixer control. On the starboard side of the cockpit is an in-deck fishbox that is insulated and drains overboard, and in the starboard gunwale is storage for tackle boxes and gear. There is an insulated bow under the forward bulkhead seat that can turn this into an icebox. An optional electric refrigerator or freezer is available.
Awning Recommendation. Forward, on the starboard side under the steps to the flybridge was an icemaker on our test boat. We recommend Riviera’s optional, very well-made, rear awning. It extends over much of this cockpit, providing shade but it also includes strata-glass quarter curtains that protect the cockpit from wind and spray and a stainless stanchion that makes a good hand hold when using the side decks. We also think the Riviera-made awning enhances the look of the boat.
Cruising Canvas? Taking that a step further for owners with short summers, we would consider having isinglass made for both the cockpit and the flying bridge for added utility at a very low cost. Evenings can become chilly at night, even in the tropics. Having isinglass that can be easily zipped or snapped into place ads utility, and more dry space when it rains at anchor.
The 25” (63 cm) wide door to the salon and galley has a robust polished stainless steel frame with tinted glass. All glass in the main cabin is tinted and the side windows and aft bulkhead window are covered in 3M film to reduce UV damage and heat transfer.
As we enter the yacht’s main cabin, we find an L-shaped settee on the port side and an L-shaped galley on the starboard side. Headroom is 6’7-1/2” and Riviera has placed its signature polished oval stainless steel hand hold mounted on the centerline overhead.
A built-in sofa is forward to starboard and it communicates well with both the galley and the settee to port. The port settee and table are on a raised platform that is up one step. The hi-lo table can be lowered to make into a fourth bed on the boat with filler cushions. This area of the salon has been raised to create headroom in the mid-cabin below.
The galley comes standard with a single electric induction stovetop, a deep stainless steel sink, and to the left are grooves in the solid countertop to drain drops of water from a dish rack. The counter has a high back-splash with electrical outlets and a shallow groove is routed out near the counter’s edge to contain dribbles. Like virtually every builder in class, Riviera does not add substantial fiddles around the counter, something we’d like to see.
Below the counter is a microwave convection oven and two refrigerator drawers. There are two cabinets for pots and pans, and five soft-touch closing drawers for cutlery, utensils, and sundry items, but there are no fiddles. Three cabinets above the window have dedicated space for the ship’s serving ware.
Main Cabin Amenities. On a panel to the right, just inside the door, is the standard CZone screen that monitors and manages all of the vessel’s electrical systems. On the aft bulkhead is an attractive vertical grate for the optional air conditioning system, the inside of the swing-up window, and note the pelmet above the window which hides a rolling shade, just as the pelmets on the side windows do.
Forward is a standard 32” TV that rises from the dash at a push of a button. A stereo also comes standard with speakers all over the boat, including the flying bridge. Power for the galley and the rest of the boat’s lights, equipment, and appliances is supplied by an Onan 9 kW genset that has a sound shield, a 5-year warranty, and is EPA and Lloyd’s certified.
The companionway to the accommodations level is on the centerline. Down a few steps the guest stateroom is on the left, the yacht’s single head is on the right, and forward is the door to the master stateroom.
It has 6’2-1/2” (1.89 m) headroom and a bright overhead hatch with a shade and screen. The island bed which measures 60” (1.52 m) wide in the middle. Below are four drawers, all of which are deep and long with soft touch close. There is a mirror as a headboard which makes the cabin look larger.
Cabin Details. Importantly, there is plenty of light in this cabin, thanks to both the large horizontal windows in each side of the bow, and to the overhead escape hatch. To port and starboard are reading lights and shelves for books, wrist watches, cell phones, and the like. There are two electrical outlets and a USB port on each side at the aft end of the shelves, but we’d like to see them near the head of the bed. The stateroom’s bulkheads are all covered in padded fabric that is chosen by the owner.
To starboard is a carpet-lined deep hanging locker with a small overhead storage cabinet forward, and there is another to starboard.
The master stateroom has a private entrance to the boat’s single head. There are two cabinets with mirrors and shelfs inside and a deck light overhead. The horizontal hull side window brings in even more light, making this space bright.
The ceramic wash basin is on a solid surface countertop and the electric-flush toilet is to the left. Aft is a separate walk-in shower stall with glass door, European-style adjustable shower head, temperature mixer, and a teak covered bench seat outboard. There is a standard exhaust fan.
Guest Cabin/Mid Cabin
Entering the guest stateroom from the passageway, we measured the entrance headroom at 6’4” (1.93 m) and then it goes even higher before we step down into the cabin itself. The hanging locker at the entrance is carpet-lined and deep. Moving down inside, we find a full-beam cabin with three single beds. The cabin has large horizontal windows on each side that bring in light and round opening portlights that can bring in fresh air.
The headroom is 5’3” (1.60 m) beside the bed along the port hull side. Between the two beds, it is 3’6-1/2”(.94 m) high, which is a stooping height for most people. But, you only stoop for about 2 seconds before reaching the head of the beds, which is higher, and then falling into them.
Because the headroom at the heads of the two athwartships beds, one can comfortably sit up for reading at night. These two beds are both 29” (73 cm) wide and both have reading lights. There are electrical outlets and a USB port by the night stand between the beds.
The portside bed is 24” (.61 m) wide and also has an opening portlight. While we were aboard, the pillows were at the wrong end of the bed as obviously at its head is a night stand with two drawers and electrical outlets with a USB port.
This stateroom is versatile, but obviously it is best suited for a couple with a small child, or a larger family with two to three children. Of course, children will love having their own cabin.
We have thoroughly toured
There is no production line, per se, but rather the boats are moved around the yard from bay to bay so that they are brought to the team involved in a particular aspect of the build. For example, engines and plumbing are installed in one bay, interior cabinetry is installed in another, the deck is affixed to the hull in another, and soon. In this way, the number of people working in a hull is minimized for efficiency, and all of the parts and tools needed are easily at hand.
All Riviera hulls are laid up in the conventional way by hand. It does not use vacuum resin injection. All of its boats have a watertight crash bulkhead and a foam-filled hull below the forward floors, something we rarely see in class. This acts as a sound barrier as well as limiting water intrusion in case of serious grounding by the bow.
We found that Riviera used industry “best practices” for the installation of electrical and plumbing. All stainless steel installed is 316, fabricated in-house, and Riviera takes great pains to polish its stainless and make sure all welds are smooth – something that sets it apart from many builders.
Of particular note, is Riviera’s system of bolt and hose clamp torque installation. In each boat’s build manifest are the torque requirements for each of these fittings and when they are at the proper spec, the installer then puts a red dot or line on them. A QC inspector later verifies the torque and puts a yellow dot or line on the hardware.
Customization. After the boat is built, it is moved to a customization building where some optional equipment not normally used can be fitted to the boat. Here is where the boat can be painted or unusual modifications can be made to suit an individual owner’s desires or application.
Options to Consider
The Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht comes remarkably well equipped as standard. Here are a few major items we recommend for most applications:
- • Cockpit joystick -- $13,895
- • Reverse cycle A/C for accommodations, 27,000 BTUs -- $, $7,648
- • Cockpit Awning -- $6,722
- • Trim Assist -- $2,975
- • Stainless Steel Safety Rail bolted to Swim Platform -- $1,542
The base price of the Riviera 39 Sports Motor Yacht is $809,900, equipped with twin Volvo Penta 435-hp engines with IPS pods and two joysticks. The price of the boat as tested in this report is $858,988, FOB Brisbane, Australia.