Of Riva remains in the annals the indelible imprint of the boats produced by the shipyard that built and nurtured the myth of this brand, passing between sporting epics and the enchanting atmospheres of the Dolce Vita. What better occasion than this New Year’s Eve to relive the Riva motorboats that made history, from the first model to the first fiberglass one.
Here, then, is the story of the early Rivas, which marked the evolution of nautical design but also of fashions.
And to think that it was a misfortune that started the story of Pietro Riva, who back in 1842 was called from his native Laglio, on Lake Como, to repair some boats damaged by the flooding of the Oglio River right in Sarnico. Of course, the good craftsman did not imagine that his migration would mark the beginning, many years later, of a myth.
Moreover, many years were yet to pass: it would be his nephew Serafino Riva who would have the intuition to mount an engine on the fishing boats produced by the shipyard, while his passion for motorboat racing pushed him to study ever faster hulls to which his son Carlo would know how to give an outlet in mass production with the creation of the “spider of the sea,” the first Riva that, inspired by racing boats, softened its lines to become an exclusive pleasure boat.
In 1946 the Corsair was unveiled, followed in 1950 by the two models that marked the official beginning of the style that has the history of Riva shipyards: the Triton and the Ariston. The former is a 7.60 m twin-engine unit equipped with a small cabin under the forward pontoon, and the latter replicates its deck solutions on a smaller size, 6.24 m, and with a single engine. The following year was the turn of the 4.93-m Sebino, which also marked the start of mass production identified by Carlo Riva as the solution to lower production costs.
They are all wooden boats that were produced in an for then extraordinary number of examples and over the years also changed their dimensions, resulting in the Super Triton and the Super Ariston. They would later be joined by the Florida and Super Florida, until the presentation in 1962 of the celebrated Aquarama, which soon became the emblem of Riva Shipyards and the icon of a long nautical season.
It is the numbers that underscore the length of this extraordinary period: from 1950, when the first models were introduced, to 1996, when the last Aquarama Special was produced.
In the meantime, however, by the late 1960s, Carlo Riva had sold the shipyard to the U.S.-based Whittaker, and a couple of years later the management positions also passed to his brother-in-law Gino Gervasoni, who had been at his side since the 1950s.
It was during this period that the production of fiberglass boats began, which for a long time coexisted with wooden boats, but had the ability to create a new style without simply being a “plastic” re-proposition of historical models.
1946 – Corsair
It is commonly referred to as the first model of the new Riva series, progenitor of the Triton and Ariston. At the time it was presented as the first “sea spider.”
1950 – Triton
It is the daddy of the Aquarama, a 7.60 m twin-engine boat equipped with a forward cabin under the pontoon, while the sundeck, not pictured, consists of a cushion over the engine room hoods.
1950 – Ariston
At 6.24 meters long, which would become almost seven in the Super Ariston version, this single-engine model would remain in production until 1976, exceeding one thousand units in its various versions.
1951 – Super Florida
Florida no. 7, purchased by the Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita, was built with a more powerful engine (Chris Craft 158 hp) for water skiing. It was the first Super Florida.
1962 – Aquarama
It is the very emblem of the Riva shipyards. An evolution of the Triton, the Aquarama, with its 8.65 m and two Thermo Elettron engines of 350 hp each, enters production re-proposing many of the solutions of its predecessor, with the large, slightly recessed sundeck and the transom to which a central passage is added. In the bow is a small cabin under the pontoon. Production ended in 1996, partly due to the lack of shipwrights who knew how to work the woods; the last model bore serial number 784.
1966 – Junior
Made famous by photographs with Brigitte Bardot, the 5.70-meter “little one” picks up the Sebino’s legacy and 626 examples will be produced from 1966 to 1972, also used as a tender.
1970 – Sport Fisherman 25
In partnership with Bertram, which “lends” the hull of the famous Moppie 31, this model initiates the production of fiberglass hulls. In 7.52 m it has a small fly and a forward cabin.
1 thought on “Riva motorboats that made history”
I love Riva boats which some day will be able to go for a ride in one on lake como anyone need a caretaker for there estate on lake como let me know.