Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge Boat Test

Peter Teakle likes to fish in style. Black marble and gold fittings may at first seem out of place on a fishing boat but Peter’s Riviera Enclosed Flybridge 70-footer is – surprisingly –practical as a fully-functional expedition gameboat. As Warren Steptoe discovered, when you live and fish hundreds of miles away from home for months at a time, this is the dream boat to do it in comfort.

Riviera 70 Flybridge Boat Test

Boat Test Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge: BORN TO BATTLE
Author: Warren Steptoe Photography: Warren Steptoe; courtesy of Riviera

This boat test ran in ISSUE 86 of BlueWater magazine – AUG-SEPT 2011

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Not many 70-footers qualify as serious fishing boats. Boats of this size are often floating palaces – sumptuous, ostentatious and of course pretentious; but definitely more in tune with entertaining than getting dirty with fish. But there are exceptions.

Peter Teakle’s Born to Battle doesn’t avoid the floating palace description either. But then neither does it offer any apologies for that. This is because while bluewater anglers accustomed to smaller, twin-screw, flybridge battle-wagons struggle to come to grips with the size and scope of this boat – and its gob-smacking array of equipment – there’s no mistaking that the need to go fishing underlies its very existence.

Born to Battle is as much the brainchild of her owner as she’s the product of Riviera’s in-house craftspeople. This is a dead-set serious vessel for a man who loves his fishing as much as any of us. The only fundamental difference between us lies not in being able to dream-up a craft like this – but in having the wherewithal to make it happen.

Many readers will have met or know of Peter Teakle from his activities on the Australian gamefishing scene. From his successes at Lizard Island’s tournaments to the Port Lincoln Tuna Classic he organises in South Australia, you can certainly say he’s deeply involved. Born to Battle is his boat, or at least his northern boat. She berths at Hamilton Island in northern Queensland (when not fishing elsewhere). Peter also has a Riviera 56 that he keeps outside his other house in South Australia for fishing down there.

BlueWater managed time aboard while Born to Battle was briefly down on the Gold Coast for a minor re-fit and some bottom scrubbing. As the lucky contributor sent aboard to tell you her story, I’m still struggling to get my head around the experience some weeks later, so can only relate it as I saw it.

Underlying Practicality

To call a few hours aboard someone else’s AU$6 million (plus) toy – on a flat-calm day –a boat test is less than a joke. However, as a fisherman and a boating enthusiast in equal parts, I’d warmed to Peter’s boat long before we exited her berth at the Versace marina. This is because while there’s luxury and comfort (and a mind-boggling array of high-tech equipment) everywhere you look, the fisherman and boating enthusiast in me constantly identified with the underlying practicality of it all.

Hand-laid teak decking greets you as you step from the dock onto a massive exterior deck. Some would call this a swim platform; and as you’d expect, it can be raised and lowered hydraulically to do that. Personally, I hate the things – they invariably get in the way when you’re fishing. But I was pleasantly surprised when told it can easily be removed and left in port, and often is when Peter goes fishing.

It’s when you hear stuff like this you begin to understand that Born to Battle isn’t merely some ‘toy’ version of going fishing; but is indeed intended to go fishing seriously. Before stepping through the transom door into the cockpit you see further evidence of that. There’s a heavy-tackle chair mounting (occupied by a table in our photos), a capacious livewell in the aft bulkhead and fishboxes set into the deck.

The cockpit actually looks tiny in proportion to the rest of the boat, and even when standing in it, a whopping 6.3-metre beam makes the cockpit seem short for its width. Perhaps proportionately it is; but cramped it is not. And the bulkhead forward of it contains more refrigeration, a rigging station and the engine room door. Yes, door; it’s clearly not a hatch or entryway.

I’ve been in a lot of engine rooms in my time and being small-framed I fit in the cramped confines better than most. However, despite two huge MTU 12V engines and a pair of Onan MDKBU 27kW gensets dominating the space, you can stand up and walk around in here. Reflections from a polished metal ceiling make the engine room appear even bigger than it is – and it’s big enough! Individual air conditioning units for each cabin, the salon and ’bridge go almost unnoticed.

From the cockpit there are three steps up to a mezzanine deck cum alfresco dining area. This is serviced from a galley at the aft end of the salon through a wide window.

The mezzanine is set up as a social area, and it also serves well as a grandstand overlooking events in the cockpit. The mezzanine floor is also hand-laid teak, and you really start to see how boating practicality outweighs luxury in this boat when you step into the cabin. There is very little carpet in this boat, especially in high-use areas like the salon. Anyone who’s lived aboard a cruiser for extended periods will tell you carpet has a way of taking on a character of its own –a very smelly one usually.

Floating Mansion

Inside Born to Battle it’s hard to maintain a nautical mindset when there’s so much space, and the amenities are more akin to a waterside apartment than a boat. Whether it’s a kitchen or a galley, it’s big, way bigger than you’d expect on a boat. The way it’s equipped acknowledges there’s probably no stepping-out to dine, so meals have to be prepared on board. A gourmet chef would be completely at home here. Peter incorporated no-less than 12 fridges and freezers into the galley area, and when you’re made aware that he sometimes spends months living aboard it all makes sense: commonsense based on experience.

Two dinette lounges plus a breakfast bar ensure a wide choice of entertaining room in the open-plan salon. Like all comfortable apartments, this salon has a separate utilities room and laundry, which you couldn’t just call it a laundry due to the presence of a large wine cooler.

Moving downstairs along a central companionway, the master stateroom door is behind you. Down here you’re tempted by quite a few of those ‘-ous’ words because the aft stateroom is either sumptuous or luxurious. On second thoughts it’s definitely both of those things!

Perhaps Peter had to concede to partner Tina here – and comfort for once stepped in front of fishing on their priority scale! The master stateroom stretches across the boat’s full beam, and if you think the space is sumptuous, it pales in comparison to its dedicated bathroom, where black marble and gold fittings defy any impression you’re on a boat.

Riviera offer several configurations for the cabins aboard their 70-model including the double-berth bow stateroom in Born to Battle; or alternately, a single stateroom with a pair of double-decker single bunks, or two separate rooms with double-decker bunks in the bows, with four bathrooms to serve them. Riviera rates the 70 to accommodate 10-14 people, depending on which bunk configuration is optioned in the various cabins.

A third stateroom to starboard of the central companionway can be optioned with either a double bed or more singles. There’s usually a fourth (single berth) stateroom portside, but Peter changed this into a timber panelled office. Check the farm of aerials, communication domes and radar booms atop the ’bridge in our photos. Suffice it to say Peter can conduct business normally wherever he is, and simultaneously keep an eye on the boat via a set of monitors interfaced with the engine room and fish finding array.

A couple of months living aboard Born to Battle at Lizard Island are a normal part of Peter and Tina’s year, where life, as they say, goes on. Feeling jealous yet? Yeah, me too!

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Sounds Of Silence

Riviera pays a lot of attention to sound-proofing in all their boats. In this one, partly due to Peter opting to minimise the carpet, they had to go beyond that. The central companionway is lined with sound-deadening material and they also used special sound-proof timber laminates in the salon flooring to achieve the desired effect. With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, there’s no disturbing the sounds of silence on this boat.

Below decks through a hatch in the downstairs companionway is a little surprise in the form of a lazarette cum pump room and luggage-stowage locker. Elsewhere in the boat the plumbing and the general engineering of plant and equipment is hidden from view, yet in the engine room and pump room it’s left exposed for ease of service. In a few words, the plumbing, wiring and engineering in Born to Battle’s plant and equipment are a real credit to Riviera. As Aussies we should be proud that a boat builder capable of building boats to this standard call itself Aussie too!

Climbing the internal staircase (forget ‘bridge ladder’, this is a staircase!) reveals another expansive space. At first glance from outside, the flybridge doesn’t look particularly large, but you get that perspective because of the enormity of the vessel beneath it. Like the cockpit, in reality, it’s big!

This boat doesn’t have a helm station so much as a command post. Remember there’s over six metres of beam to play with here, and even though the fully enclosed and air-conditioned ’bridge loses a tad of that to styling, the wide dashboard houses a bewildering array of controls and display units. No less than six big LCD display screens stretch across the dash. A smaller pair of main-engine monitoring screens sit centrally in pride of place, along with light switches and alarm monitor panels. From there it’d fill this entire magazine to list what else occupies the dash.

Amongst all the buttons and LCD screens is a very conventional looking twin-lever engine control unit, a pair of plain grey toggles for the bow and stern thrusters, and a wood rimmed steering wheel. To steer there’s also a track-ball control set in the helm chair’s armrest. Behind the helm station the remainder of the flybridge space is occupied by a lounge dinette portside and a wet bar to starboard. A door opens onto a narrow, upper mezzanine deck where the skipper can see down into the cockpit when fishing or docking. There’s a supplementary set of controls positioned in an aft helm station for that purpose. The view forward is somewhat compromised by the bridge in front of you, but the view down over the cockpit and to the aft extremities of the boat, whilst docking, are very good.

On The Move

Inside the flybridge it’s difficult to get a sense of movement because it’s so quiet and separated from the outside environment. I did step outside onto the flybridge mezzanine at one point, for some reason, only to grab frantically for my hat. We were running at over 30 knots at the time, and if there was little sense of how fast we were going inside, outside the slipstream wasn’t at all sympathetic.

Born to Battle had just gone back into the water after having her bottom scrubbed, and with a total lack of engine noise, was effortlessly loping at cruising speeds between 20-25 knots. Those MTUs produce 1823hp each, so despite Riviera’s sea trials recording a top speed of 31.6 knots, lightly loaded with a clean bottom we managed 34 knots.

Outside the Gold Coast Seaway calm seas belied any testing in open ocean conditions. Nor was there any point trying out the pair of Sea Gyro stabiliser units hiding away under the cockpit, because the boat hardly rocked at rest with them switched off anyway.

One exercise we were able to conduct was to try some backing down and a few hard turns in reverse. This was to gain some idea of how a boat, probably too big to chase a lively fish, would perform. I must say this exercise produced something of a surprise too. Sure, Born to Battle didn’t pirouette like a hot-dogging 35-footer backing down on an aerobatic beakie, but she was far from as clumsy as you might expect, given 70 feet of hull and who knows how much mass to shift around.

No Lightweight

Riviera states the 70 Enclosed Flybridge model’s dry weight as 41,950kg, which will increase substantially by the time the boat is optioned up and fitted out, and 9450 litres of fuel and 1000 litres of water fill her tanks. I was quite surprised with Born to Battle’s agility. Not that agile is perhaps the right word to describe her fish-fighting manoeuvrability…

Recrossing the Seaway into a now lowering sun, and idling south towards her marina berth provided time to contemplate some vexing questions. A Riviera 70 is no battlewagon, but it can do things battlewagons can’t. Notably visiting fishing locations that the best battlewagons can’t, with levels of onboard comfort unavailable without a separate mothership.

Peter Teakle has very obviously poured a lot of personal experience into fitting out Born to Battle for long periods living and fishing aboard a long way from port. There are certainly a few boats around capable of mothershipping themselves. Boats like the O’Brien 56 featured in BlueWater some months back can do that, and function very well in a charter operation set-up to take advantage of that capability. But not with the levels of comfort for owners (and guests) that Born to Battle can. In this role, anything the Riviera 70 loses in the fishing stakes it gains in spades with the other side of its character.

Born to Battle surprised me. I expected her to be luxurious and sumptuous and a few more ‘-ous’ words besides. But behind that I didn’t expect a boat so well set-up for fishing with such a practical mindset about the realities of life aboard over extended periods. It really is something unique and special.

Highlights

Born to Battle’s unique combination of luxurious comfort and fishing practicality is quite remarkable.

  • Effective sound-reduction engineering.
  • Effortless cruising at more than 20-25 knots.
  • Exemplary standards of workmanship and finish throughout.
  • An Aussie brand with a great reputation providing good resale value.
  • Surprisingly manoeuvrable for a 70-footer.

Capacities

  • People: 10-14 depending on cabin options
  • Fuel: std 8000 litres, test boat – 9450 litres Fresh
  • Water: 1000 litres
  • Holding Tank: 500 litres

General

  • Material: GRP laminates with cored decks and bulkheads, isopthalmic gelcoat.
  • Hull Type: Enclosed flybridge mono hull
  • Length: 22.07 metres
  • LOA: 23.34 metres
  • Beam: 6.32 metres
  • Draft: 1.7 metres
  • Deadrise: n/s Dry
  • Weight: Approx 41,920kg

Engines

  • Make/model: MTU 12V 2000 series (x 2)
  • Type: V12 common rail injected twin turbocharged diesel
  • Rated hp: 1823hp
  • Displacement: 26.8 litres
  • No. Cylinders: 12
  • Weight: 3520kg inc gearbox
  • Gearboxes: Twin Disc Quickshift
  • Gearbox ratio: 2.48:1
  • Propeller/s used for test: Veem 41 x 44 x 5
  • Gen Set:Onan MDKBU x 2 (27kw)

SPECIFICATIONS: Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge
Options fitted: MTU engine option, stern thruster upgrade to 20hp, aft galley option, Aqualuma underwater lights, Reverso oil transfer unit, Eskimo Ice Maker 600, Motor Yacht Controller unit, Super Jet Black paintwork, teak sidedecks and anchor locker hatches, extra high-pressure water system, modified A/C to cool nav equipment, flybridge and office, extra MTU engine display in office, RAS eight-man RFD, M35 Sea Gyro stabilisers x 2, extra HRO 1800 water maker, Qik rope cutters on propeller shafts, port cabin converted to office, custom oval dining table, custom teak table for cockpit mezzanine, master cabin A/C upgrade to 26,000 BTU, 2 x MTU hot water offtake units, custom flybridge upholstery, track-ball control in helm chair armrest, Mastervolt 100amp mass charger, refrigerated fishbin in cockpit, Reelax Maxi 2000 outriggers, custom Furuno navigation and fish finding electronics package, and more.  

Riviera 70 Flybridge Boat Test

Boat Test Riviera 70 Enclosed Flybridge: BORN TO BATTLE
Author: Warren Steptoe Photography: Warren Steptoe; courtesy of Riviera
Supplied by: Peter Teakle, and R Marine Queensland  

This boat test ran in ISSUE 86 of BlueWater magazine – AUG-SEPT 2011

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here