The elegant 1978 Riva Vespucci, one of the few steel and aluminium yachts Riva built in the 1970s, was returned to its former glory by Monaco Marine Antibes
by Maria Roberta Morso – photo by Guillaume Plisson
International boating owes a lot to Carlo Riva. His vision, his talent for innovation, the beauty of his design and materials, and his meticulous, almost obsessive approach to building boats – which had to be perfect to be adorned with the RIVA logo – are just some of the characteristics that helped to create a legend that has lasted and remained unscathed throughout various eras and in the face of a constantly evolving boating market.
In 1950, when Carlo Riva took charge of the family business, the Riva name was already famous in the world of motorboating thanks to Carlo’s father, Serafino, who was a huge fan of the sport and a renowned champion at an international level. In 1954, Carlo Riva opened a new shipyard in Sarnico on Lake Iseo, which would go on to create thousands of beautiful boats that rapidly created a genuine aura of exclusivity around the brand.
Alongside the iconic motorboats made of marine plywood, and later fibreglass, Riva also built a few metal yachts. In the early 1960s, in partnership with the Dutch shipyard De Vries (which later combined with Van Lendt to create Feadship) and De Voogt, he built seven Caravelle, all between 21 and 22.5 m long. The 1970s saw the arrival of the Marco Polo and Vespucci series, a total of eight steel yachts – six Marco Polos and two Vespuccis – between 24 and 30 m long, with construction entrusted to the C.R.N. (Costruzioni Riparazioni Navali) shipyard in Ancona. It’s funny how history repeats itself… today both CRN and Riva are part of the Ferretti Group.
And so we arrive at our Vespucci, which was launched in 1978 and became Carlo Riva’s personal yacht, one he used regularly with his family for many years. Over the decades, Vespucci changed hands twice and was partially refitted on occasions. In 2016, her current owner decided to restore her original beauty and elegance and entrusted this delicate task to the Monaco Marine shipyard. The work on board, carried out in the shipyard in Antibes, began in December 2016 and was completed in February 2018.
The long and meticulous refitting process aimed to bring the interior and exterior up to modern standards while respecting Carlo Riva’s design and leaving the impalpable atmosphere of the era intact. The original furniture and materials were preserved almost everywhere, and when they had to be replaced, the operation was carried out with scholarly accuracy, protecting the unique style of the original whenever interventions, adjustments or additional elements were required.
One could say it was a true restoration project, as the refitting acknowledged the original stylistic content both in terms of its aesthetic and historical value, working on the materials without affecting the underlying spirit. It sought to retain as many original elements as possible, including the newly restored portholes, the mahogany switches, handrails and washboards, the equipment on deck, the steel features and the rudders. Where original objects couldn’t be saved, the replacements were chosen to match the pre-existing parts perfectly, such as the new handles, lamps, and fabrics. The navigation systems and on-board electronics were, of course, brought up to date.
The warm and beguiling hues of the mahogany used for the walls and furniture were freshened up by fabrics in neutral white, cream, and beige tones, with cushions in a range of blues and turquoises to add a touch of brightness. All interior and exterior spaces are elegant and restrained in their design.
The original layout has been respected throughout, with the exception of the creation of new guest bathrooms to meet modern standards. The yacht has three decks and can house up to ten guests in four cabins. The owner’s suite is on the main deck, while the three guest cabins are spread out below deck – two doubles with a third foldaway bed aft of the engine room, and a large VIP cabin at the stern, with separate access from the saloon.
The five crew members, including the captain, are housed in the bow section of the lower deck. The sun deck, dedicated to outdoor living, features sunbeds and a lovely dining table, shaded by awnings. The tender, hauled and launched with the help of a crane, is stored on this deck during long journeys. The outdoor helmsman’s station is positioned centrally, offering excellent visibility.
The main steering gear is on the same deck, but accessible only via an internal staircase adjacent to the crew’s dinette on the main deck. The galley, behind a fine saloon with a sitting area and lunch area, opens both onto the central corridor and onto the left-hand side deck. The outdoor opening allows easy service to the cockpit, where there is another dining area, and towards the bow, where, as tradition dictates, a horseshoe-shaped relaxation zone has been created with comfortable seats.
The choice and placement of outdoor furniture also respect the 1970s style and layout. As is always the case when refitting period yachts, along the way some unforeseen issues arose due to faults, corrosion and malfunctioning equipment, and systems. All the maintenance work was carried out following techniques from the era the boat was built, under the close supervision of project manager Camille Meyer-Warnod.
BUILDER: CRN Ancona
YEAR OF BUILT: 1978
PROJECT: Carlo Riva
REFIT: Monaco Marine
YEAR OF REFIT: 2018
HULL: LOA 30.5m • Waterline length 25.35m • Maximum beam 6.60m • Draft 2.59m • Light mass displacement 145,000 kg • Fuel tank volume 20,700 l • Water tank volume 9,000 l
MAIN PROPULSION: 2 Caterpillar D346-TA 8V • Outlet mechanical power 435 hp
• 8 cylinders
RANGE: 1,650 nautical miles
MAX SPEED: 12 knots
CRUISING SPEED: 11 knots
(Riva Vespucci, timeless appeal – Barchemagazine.com – November 2019)