Riviera Announces Apprentice of the Year Winners

Australia’s premium luxury motor yacht builder, Riviera, has announced four winners in its Apprentice of the Year awards for 2022, showcasing the depth of talent within the company’s workforce of 900 people, including 112 apprentices.

The winners across four categories received their awards at a special ceremony recently in front of the 900-strong Riviera workforce.

The apprentice winners are Simon Magnay, second-year apprentice in engineering, Claudia Le Fevre, second-year apprentice in upholstery, William Johnstone, second-year apprentice in boat building and Connor Baruksopulo, first-year apprentice in timber and composite machining.

Claudia Le Fevre has completed her second year as an upholstery apprentice. She set her sights on working with Riviera while still at school.

“My family have always loved boats and I knew I wanted to join a trade,” said Claudia. “I started work just one week after my final school year ended.

“I was very nervous on that first day but everyone quickly helped me feel at ease.

“I love working with my hands and now I work each day down at the waterfront fitting our fabulous upholstery to these fantastic yachts.

“The award was quite a surprise. I was certainly not expecting it.”

Simon Magnay moved from Casino in northern New South Wales to pursue his dream of working with Riviera.

“I first saw Riviera yachts at the Sydney boat show and knew I wanted to be a part of the organisation that built them,” said Simon. “I have already progressed to working with the team conducting sea trials on the yachts. I had the thrill of working on one of the trials for the first 78 Motor Yacht. She is awesome.”

Marine Craft Construction apprentice William Johnstone was also attracted to Riviera after seeing the yachts on the water.

“My grandfather had a boat and we often sailed past the Riviera facility and I just wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “At the moment I work on fitting out the interiors of the yachts, making sure that every component fits exactly.

“I was over the moon to be named an Apprentice of the Year. I work long hours and I love it. I am honing my skills all the time.”

Connor Baruksopulo admits he was nervous about working alongside older and more experienced people.

“But I moved right in and everyone was so welcoming,” he said. “Now I am working on achieving my CNC certificate.

“I was stoked with myself to achieve an Apprentice of the Year award. My dream is drawing CAD programs for the CNC systems.”

Riviera’s safety and training manager Adam Houlahan said Riviera continues to welcome young apprentices through its schools program.

“All of the award-winning apprentices have a shared drive and determination found across Riviera’s 900-strong team, namely a passion for creating exceptional blue-water luxury motor yachts,” said Adam.

The recently announced TAFE Apprentice of the Year was another achievement for the Riviera team as apprentice Max Whitmore was announced runner-up in a very large entry across the State.

Riviera is also proud to announce that six apprentices have also graduated through the company’s award-winning Propel program: Tirryn Casey, Jack Fuller, Joshua Hindmarsh, Steven Kupfer, Brendan O’Grady and Thomas Jay Parsons

Riviera owner Rodney Longhurst paid tribute to all apprentices including the award winners who received recognition this year.

“These young members of our team are the genesis of the next generation of master boat builders for our industry,” said Mr Longhurst. “I began my own career as an apprentice so I have been on the same journey and I share their excitement for the future.

“As we continue to grow, we are looking to recruit additional apprentices, so we are keen to hear from quality people who aspire to join the world-class team we have at Riviera.

“Our apprentices are given incredible support from the exceptional team at Riviera who provide high quality training and mentoring that encourages each one of them to excel in their careers and in life generally.

“This is the foundation of our philosophy that to build world-class luxury motor yachts, we must nurture world-class craftsmen and women.”

Riviera Australia owner Rodney Longhurst addresses the apprentice team during the award ceremony.

Riviera Apprentice of the Year award winners and their mentors. From left, Safety, Training and Recruitment Manager Adam Houlahan, second-year engineering apprentice Simon Magnay, second-year marine craft construction apprentice William Johnstone, first-year timber and composite machining apprentice Connor Baruksopulo, second-year upholstery apprentice Claudia Le Fevre and Safety and Training Co-ordinator Keira Badke.

Riviera’s apprentice team celebrates the Apprentice of the Year awards.

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