Riviera Festival of Boating combines education and spectacle

Australia’s world-class luxury motor yacht builder, Riviera, is celebrating after its sixth annual Festival of Boating on Queensland’s Gold Coast concluded last week.

The three-day Festival brought together Australia’s most comprehensive motor yacht education program and a series of spectacular social events.

Riviera Brand and Communications Director, Stephen Milne, said: “We created the Festival six years ago for luxury motor yacht owners and people aspiring to this unique lifestyle to grow their boating confidence and knowledge.”

Glen and Mary Phillips are new to the Riviera family of motor yacht owners.

“Riviera really knows how to look after its owners,” said Glen. “It was a fantastic experience and our entire family was involved. Our young boys took a tender handling course, I wanted to learn more about first aid and the Volvo systems in our yacht. Mary took the ladies skipper course and she is now enrolled in a course to get her skipper’s licence!”

Lori Sexton flew from Perth with husband Derek specifically for the workshop program.

“You can’t get these personalised sessions anywhere else,” said Lori.

Over the three days, the Festival offered more than 100 workshops, seminars and on-water tutorials covering 39 separate subjects from technical to safety and lifestyle, each delivered by experts in their fields. They included safe towing and rafting, advanced weather forecasting, the science of antifouling, preventive maintenance, offshore seamanship, radar, planning and provisioning a galley, emergency protocols, navigating at night and much more.

On-water Tuition

A fleet of seven Rivieras was dedicated to providing on-water tuition, with special programs for women skippers, with classes on yacht handling and manoeuvring, pod drive systems as well as classes on handling tenders.

Lori Sexton said: “Derek and I have been boating together for a long time but I am still not as confident on board as I would like, so the skipper course was really valuable. Our tutor was unflappable and I believe I will be more confident on our motor yacht now.

“We also learned about flares and set some of them off, which was reassuring to know how they work.”

For Derek the festival was all about education.

“It was my goal to book into as many workshops as I could over the three days,” he said. “I like to work on my own Riviera so the technical sessions were my focus such as genset maintenance, desalination systems and radar. I also wanted to learn more about night navigation and safety at sea.”

A particularly popular seminar, “Living the Dream”, saw Riviera 61 owners Joe and Cheryl Pengelly talk about their six-month cruise from New Zealand to the Fiji Islands group. They talked about preparing and provisioning the yacht, navigation at sea and the careful safety planning that made their voyage comfortable and enjoyable.

Many visitors came to the Festival to research the company and the range of motor yachts.

Trevor Bishop has his sights set on a Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht.

“I currently own another brand and I am so pleased that the R Marine team invites me to Riviera activities so now I am 100 percent into the Riviera lifestyle.”

Tony and Connie Borgia have their hearts set on a Riviera 3600 Sport Yacht having recently sold a 26-foot boat.

“We came to the Festival to learn everything we could,” said Tony. “The seminars were magnificent.”

From Across the World

Motor yacht enthusiasts came from across Australia as well as New Zealand, Europe and the Americas to enjoy and learn at the Festival.

New Zealanders Andrew and Alison Turner undertook an on-water workshop on the IPS drives and system that is fitted to their new Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht.

“I also attended a seminar on C-Zone digital switching technology,” said Andrew. “Both workshops were highly informative. “

Chuck and Rita Anderson visited from Chicago in the United States. Rita was enthusiastic about the on-water tuition.

“I took two classes on boats. I am usually first mate on our Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht and I want to do some of the driving now.”

Chuck was impressed with Rita’s new skills.

“I watched her reverse the boat into its pen,” he said. “That’s the way we berth our Sport Yacht in Chicago. I’ll be delighted to have Rita take over the helm.”

One couple flew in from Spain for a special visit to review progress and select a range of finishes and equipment for their Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht that is now in build.

The new Riviera Sports Motor Yacht facility was also open to visitors and the full interior mock-up of the luxurious new 68 Sports Motor Yacht was a particular attraction.

The three-day Festival is held each year at the Riviera yacht-building facility on Australia’s Gold Coast, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, giving visitors the unique opportunity to  tour the factory and see how Riviera luxury motor yachts are crafted and then to inspect the completed boats on the water.

Mr Milne said: “This year we displayed a total of 12 Rivieras at our undercover marina, which was the largest Riviera and Belize exhibit for us anywhere in the world. The next opportunity motor yachting enthusiasts will have to see our Rivieras on display will be at the Sydney International Boat Show beginning on Thursday, August 3, where we will hold the world premiere of our new 68 Sports Motor Yacht.”

Representatives from every one of Riviera’s Australia and New Zealand dealer network were on hand throughout the Festival, assisting visitors as they inspected the luxury motor yachts in the marina and answering many questions.

Fun and Colour of the Riviera Lifestyle

The Festival also extends beyond luxury yachting. This year included the Paspaley Pearls Masterclass and ladies luncheon at Palazzo Versace, hosted by a member of the Paspaley family.

Michelle Bissaker always enjoys the Festival luncheons. This year’s event was a highlight for her.

“The food was fabulous, the room was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed watching the models showing the magnificent pearl jewellery,” she said. “The three hours went so quickly!”

Connie Borgia agreed.

“Brilliant! I loved the red carpet treatment. It was a classy venue. I went with a group of 10 girls and we met some great ladies.”

Each year the Festival features a gala event on Saturday evening. This year the theme was “Let’s Dance”, taking the 550 guests on a adventure of dance through the ages, from the sights and sounds of tribal, Asian, South American to modern dance and music, all in a swirl of light, colour and sound. After a three-course dinner and fine wines, guests took to the dance floor and danced the night away.

This year’s Festival was the first for South Australian Russell Bianco.

“The dance party was great,” he said, “and the food was sensational. We danced all the way to the end of the night.”