It was 2017 when the world mourned the passing of one of the most brilliant figures in the world of powerboats: the inimitable Carlo Riva. Father of some of the most beautiful powerboats of the 20th century, he was born on 24 February 1922 and would have been 100 years old today. To celebrate this anniversary, let’s take a look at some of the models that have made history.
For some, they are the most beautiful in the world, others would do anything to have them and, probably, there are also those who do not like them. What is certain, though, is that everyone knows the Rivas. In the 1990s, a British magazine carried out a survey among its readers as to which boat name they knew best. The result? Aquarama, one of Riva’s cult models. There are few countries in the world where Carlo Riva’s boats have not arrived.
The period between the ’60s and ’70s, when all the celebrities of the cinema and not only spent their holidays in the French Riviera aboard their Ariston or their Aquarama, left an indelible imprint and played a role in the consecration of the brand, so much so that even today a Riva recalls those images and those protagonists.
There is also a classic Riva which, according to many, deserves the title of “most beautiful of all”. Among the supporters of this thesis was Carlo Riva himself. “The Ariston is the boat I fell in love with,” explains Piero Gibellini, president of the Riva Historical Society, founded by Carlo Riva himself in 1998, “I bought one in 1989. For me and for the engineer (Carlo Riva, editor’s note) it was, and is, the most beautiful. This design has the charm of disregarding all the logics of market and use. You can’t say it’s the most comfortable, but it’s the purest of all”.
From the beginning of the 1950s, the Ariston was the only model to remain in the list throughout the Carlo Riva management, in production until 1971. Over time, it was then joined by the Super Ariston, a little longer and more powerful, which remained in production until 1974.
“When we talk about the most beautiful, we cannot forget the Tritone, which for a long time was one of the top models, as well as the predecessor of the Aquarama, later born on the same hull. The appeal of the Triton was so strong that it took Aquarama about five years to take it out of production.”
The Aquarama is perhaps the most popular model of all and was created at the explicit request of customers who wanted a more practical Tritone. In order not to ruin the perfect line of the boats – just think of the “Carlo Riva stern”, which develops as a single volume without a solution of continuity – the Tritone was, in the end, not very practical.
The Aquarama, which went into production in 1962, brought improvements, such as the gunwale or a stern sundeck that was easier to reach. In 1969, the last version of the hull arrived, the smoothest in navigation, and the process of making the boat more liveable culminated in 1972 with the Aquarama Special, based on the hull of the Super, which can be recognized by its more elongated stern, crossed by a walkway that ends in a bathing platform (a solution that we see today in ever larger sizes and on every type of boat) to make access to the water easier.
From the beginning of the century with the first prototypes, prior to mass production, by Serafino Riva, who was the first to try his hand at building recreational boats, making a name for himself in motorboating, the wooden Rivas have spanned almost a century, up until 1980 and the Olympic, the last remaining wooden model to be mass produced, with the exception of the Aquarama Special, which remained on the price list until 1996 and has been produced on request since 1990.
In 1950 the Tritone made its debut. This Riva motorboat is in fact the father of the Aquarama and is an 8.05 metre twin-engined craft with a vintage feel. First a bit “snubbed”, today it is back in vogue. A restored original model in perfect condition is worth around €400,000.
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