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George Bulanda | Photo: Courtesy Images | August 20, 2013
Riva unveils the flagship of its open line, the stunning 63’ Virtus.
With its elongated arrow-shaped windows and streamlined silver-gray topsides, the new open yacht Riva 63’ Virtus resembles a sleek piece of art deco sculpture. And when it’s in motion at a jaunty clip, slicing through sapphire waters and leaving a cloud of foam in its wake, its elegantly chiseled lines are only magnified. In short, it looks fluid, a fitting description for a sporty cruiser that is at once classic and contemporary in design.
“It’s the best floating piece of art you can buy,” says Giuseppe Meneghetti, Riva product manager for North America and Central/South America, about the luxurious 63’ Virtus, the largest open boat to date in the Riva line (riva-yacht.com).
Climb onboard, and the slick sophistication continues. The large cockpit contains three settees, one of which, the three-seater helm sofa, allows guests to drive the boat with the captain. There’s also a fridge, sink, grill and flip-top teak table for casual alfresco meals. The large windscreen is double-curved and tinted. If the sun gets too oppressive, a sturdy electro-hydraulic bimini (or canopy) is pressed into service, and it can be kept aloft while the yacht is running. Passengers are able to soak up the rays on two roomy sundecks—one at the bow and the other astern.
Belowdecks, teak and pale oak contrast with dark leather upholstery. Frosted glass, polished lacquer and stainless steel lend a fresh, modern accent, and copious mirrors throughout pick up the natural light while adding the illusion of more space. A large saloon is outfitted with a ceramic cooktop, microwave, dishwasher and fridge/freezer, and a dining table seats up to eight. There are three sleeping cabins: the master, the VIP—both with in suite bathrooms—and a smaller one with L-shaped bunk beds, suitable for children.
But all those amenities would count for little if the 63’ Virtus didn’t operate well. “Experts have said that this is the best boat we have produced in terms of manipulation,” says Meneghetti. “It’s perfectly balanced.”
The Virtus’ top speed is 40 knots (a shade over 46 mph), and its cruising speed is 35 knots (40.3 mph), Meneghetti says. It’s powered by twin MAN V-12 1360 hp engines.
The vessel’s swift acceleration and ease of handling, as well as its styling and exclusive cachet, make it a certain star at any harbor in the world.
Exclusivity, after all, is the hallmark of the Italian yacht-maker, which has been owned since 2000 by the Ferretti Group. Its history goes back 171 years, but it really garnered prestige in the 1950s and ’60s when A-List celebrities such as Sean Connery, Prince Rainier, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton cruised around in their Rivas to Monte Carlo, Venice, Cannes and Saint-Tropez. These days, country crooner Kenny Chesney owns a Riva 86’ Domino.
The Virtus is reminiscent of the earlier hardtop Riva 63’ Vertigo, but there are other notable differences aside from the Virtus’ open top, says Meneghetti. The Vertigo, he notes, was built specifically for the European market.
“The engines are the same, but there’s more room on the Virtus, especially in the cockpit, and the layout is different,” he says. “The Virtus was built for entertainment with room for lots of people aboard.”
Indeed, the 63’ Virtus seems to encapsulate the Italian expression dolce far niente—“the sweetness of doing nothing.” If there’s a schedule onboard at all, it’s simply to pass idle hours on languid afternoons. Whether cruising on the Mediterranean or Lake Michigan, this boat is designed as an escape from the workaday world. Anyone in a hurry is best left on land.
Despite the sleeping cabins, Meneghetti says not many people in the United States use the Virtus for overnight weekend or weeklong trips.
“In Europe, they’ll travel from island to island and sleep overnight,” he says. “But in this country, the Virtus is used mostly as a dayboat.”
All of that craftsmanship, engineering and technology takes quite a few resources to produce. Although the Virtus retails for a hefty $3.6 million, Meneghetti says the typical Riva buyer also owns a fleet of other boats. Still, that pride of Riva yacht ownership is irresistible, even to those who can easily afford it.
“It’s like owning a Bentley automobile,” says Meneghetti. “You don’t need it, but you want it.”