“If something has to be done, it must be done now”. Word of Carlo Riva, pioneer of the world boating and patron of the company of construction of luxury yachts that bears his surname. The history of the Riva Boatyard is a story of Italian excellence, the story of a “boatman” who became the king of motorboats. Craftsmanship, entrepreneurial vision, cutting edge technologies, high quality raw materials, innovative design and attention to the personal needs of the customer are the founding values of the Riva dynasty, symbol of Made in Italy in the nautical world. Luxury boats become icons of an era, pieces of the fascinating mosaic of the Italian dolce vita. The yachts created by the genius of Carlo Riva have always combined elegance and efficiency, to deliver to the sea what has become the object of desire for royal families, actors, sportsmen and businessmen.
The history of Riva Yachts: a legacy of technique and style
That of the Riva shipyards is a romantic story that, like all romantic stories, originates in a fairytale place: Lake Iseo. The shipbuilder and craftsman Pietro Riva founded in 1852 what would become a real dynasty of boat builders. Under the guidance of the progenitor, the boatyard began to take care of the repair and construction of work boats (“batel de pesca”) and pleasure boats (“rowing boats”) typical of the area.
Then progress case the joint and Pietro’s son, Ernesto, inserts the engine on the Riva boats, which become bigger and bigger. The romantic lake is filled with steamboats for Riva-branded tourist excursions. The arrives Serafino and the wooden hulls become definitely more performing to adapt to the novelty of the era: motorboat competitions. That of the Riva boatyards is also a history of victories of prestigious trophies. It is the forties of the twentieth century and the son of Serafino, Carlo Riva, revolutionizes the paternal project. And, like the water that naturally flows towards the sea, the lake is tight to the engineer Riva: his boundless passion for boats and the attention to primary work, that of the boatyard, are transformed into a serial production and qualified luxury yacht. The elegant Italian wooden hulls welcome American engines and become the object of desire for royalty and celebrities, business man and protagonists of the magazines. Who says Riva motorboats says Ferrari of the sea.
Riva boats and yachts: the great models of the past and the challenges of the future
In September 1969, Carlo Riva, embittered by the continuous strikes of the workers, decided to sell the boatyard to the US Whittaker, but remains president and general manager. In 2000 the boatyard became part of the Ferretti Group, preserving the identity of Italian excellence. Riva yachts represent the symbol of local nautical excellence, precious jewels that are the fruit of the evolution of craftsmanship and tricolour design. From 1842 to the challenges of the future, from the first Riva boatyards to international production, from Sarnico to the conquest of the world. The history of Riva boats can be read through the models that have marked the different eras.
We are in the ’50s, in full Dolcevita, and Carlo Riva packs for the Italians one of his first unforgettable models. On the road we run strong and on the water we are not far behind. Italy rises from the war, the industry reborn and the Riva boatyard launch the Ariston, a roaring motorboat. This is how Carlo Riva presents it to the world: “Designed with love, born strong and pure like a pedigree horse. Unforgettable! It was my lord of the sea “. Of that lord, so elegant and powerful, falls in love Anita Ekberg: she buys it and personalizes it with zebra-striped upholstery. A luxury boat that does not go unnoticed, neither inside nor outside.
The great success of the Ariston convinces Carlo Riva not to stop. The road of luxury yachts is the right one. The founding values are always efficiency and elegance, but the avant-garde engineering claims its space. This is how the first Riva two-engine is born, from the name and from the performance that knows of myth: Tritone.
A decade later, it’s up to Super Florida. The name exemplifies well the world that wants to open before it this Italian excellence signed Riva. The American dream infects Italians who want to feel like overseas stars. The lines follow those of American boats, but the fine workmanship is Italian. Dream in USA, Made in Italy.
1962. The revolution on water begins here, from the third Milan International Boat Show, from Riva Aquarama, from the slogan “Sun, sea, joy of life!”. The motorboat with its sensual and soft shapes, beloved by the most important stars of the Italian Dolcevita, from Sophia Loren to Brigitte Bardot. A boat that has become a symbol, an icon, a myth. A dream for most Italians: the price of this Riva yacht was prohibitive for those without a five-star life. “Just” 10 million and 800 thousand lire. But it would be worth it.
Twenty years of production: from the years ‘70 to 1992. The Riva Saint-Tropez is more than a motorboat, it is a status symbol, the one that has represented for years the luxury holidays of Italians on the French coast. Beauty and speed cross the waves arm in arm in this boat, the first made of fiberglass. Simple and elegant lines, slender towards the horizon, beyond human limits, to give back to the sight the feeling of being able to reach the infinite, sipping some very pleasant champagne.
RIVA SUPER AMERICA
The world of luxury is no longer content with boat trips. We are in the ’70s and from the genius of Carlo is born the first Riva luxury yacht: the Super America. Over 15 meters in length for those who want to dream big. A break from the classic production of Riva boatyards, a starting point for a success that goes beyond national boundaries and conquers the wealthiest men in the world. The line of Riva cabin cruisers starts from this first, very important step.
The tricolour flag returns to wave on Riva luxury yachts. In the year 2000 the brilliant intuition of the Ferretti group gives the nautical market one of the greatest successes ever: the Aquariva. 240 copies sold in 13 years at a price not exactly prohibitive of 500 thousand euros. The zeros are lowered to allow a wider slice of the population to realize a special desire: owning a Riva boat.
Luxury is synonymous with exclusivity. And then, alongside a more “popular” production, like that of the Aquariva, elite production remains. In the 2000s Riva boatyard manufactured Rivarama, a medium-sized speedboat designed for a luxury market. A limited edition of 100 copies. Rare means precious.
Futuristic visions and the desire to dare. In the new millennium everything is exaggerated. Carlo Riva knows it well and in 2011 he launched the 86 ‘Domino on the boat market. 86 feet are the length of this avant-garde yacht. 26 meters for the profane. An exaggerated boat, with an attractive and aggressive design. The price is also exaggerated: 6 million euros. From the luxury market to the extra-luxury market. Millionaires dream and the bravest dare.
Building high-speed boats means always keeping up with the times and gathering all the challenges of new technologies. Riva boats welcome the avant-garde in tradition and create a unique, fully customizable model. The growing demand of the luxury market is just this: a unique product, customized, only mine. The 122 ‘Mythos is born from the needs of the customer and is modelled on the different details required. Built entirely of light aluminium alloy, this dream boat stretches for 37 meters. In the front row when it comes to luxury Made in Italy.
Riva Yacht, not just boats: luxury interiors and design objects
Jewels that sail the seas. Exteriors designed for the best performance you could wish for. But the true strength of Riva boats is also in the care of interiors, designed to create a comfortable and elegant atmosphere, typical of Italian style. Hand-carved mahogany, fine tapestries, monogrammed linen, crystal crockery: the interiors of Riva luxury yachts are treated in every detail, strictly Made in Italy. Design is the element that has always made the difference. The ability to concentrate in the objects of furniture the love for the sea, of those who have made luxury a style of life and beauty a constant imperative. From the attention of Riva to the creation of the interiors of their boats, the line of design objects with which to enrich luxury yachts or their homes, as in the case of Aquariva, a table lamp inspired by classic “searching light” of the 60s boats, present on the main Riva models. The choice of the materials, the care in the design, the perfection in the realization: the whole conceptual baggage of the Riva world revives in each of these small objects of daily use, precious furnishing accessories with an unmistakable design.
From 007 to Indiana Jones: Riva boats on the small and big screen
The icons of Italian and world style have chosen them as favourite boats: from Brigitte Bardot, to Sean Connery, through Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And then Jean-Paul Belmondo, Princess Ira Fustemberg, Kirk Douglas, Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda, up to supermodel Elle Macpherson and George Clooney. Countless commercials and films in which luxury yachts and Riva motorboats have been protagonists. In Mambo (1954) Vittorio Gassman, Silvana Mangano and Michael Rennie cross the sea on board an Ariston Riva. Vincent Cassel in Ocean’s Twelve, and Xenia Onatopp, in Golden Eye (yes, just one of the films of the 007 saga) captivate spectators driving an Aquarama Super: a custom-built boat with the steering wheel, adapted from that of a Chrysler. We could not miss the presence of a Riva boat also in the Oscar-winning film La Grande Bellezza by Paolo Sorrentino and how to forget the scene of Indiana Jones and the last crusade, with a contemptuous Harrison Ford at the helm of an motorboat all Made in Italy. Not even the advertising campaigns have been spared: from Martini & Rossi (1993 with Charlize Theron) to Dior (in 2011 with Jude Law), all the most glamorous brands have chosen Riva.
“The Rolls Royce of the sea” defy time thanks to the perfect interweaving of luxury, refinement, attention to detail, great quality. That resolute, tenacious man who thought big without losing his romantic spirit saw his dream come true. «Return to the port with the boat, look at billions of stars and feel like a millionaire without having a penny in your pocket …», that’s what Carlo Riva spoke about his infinite passion for the sea. That sea that has never betrayed him and that has allowed him to be crowned as the Italian king of yachting, always remaining on the rise.