Of Riva remains in the annals the indelible imprint of the boats produced by the shipyard that have built and nurtured the myth of this brand, passing between the 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 have made history, from the first model to the first in fibreglass.
Here, then, is the history of the first Riva boats, which have marked the evolution of nautical design but also of fashion.
And to think that it was a misfortune to start the story of Pietro Riva, who in 1842 was called by his native Laglio, on Lake Como, to repair some boats damaged by the flood of the river Oglio right in Sarnico. Of course, the good craftsman could not have imagined that his migration would mark the beginning, many years later, of a myth.
After all, many years have yet to pass: it was his nephew Serafino Riva who had the intuition to mount an engine on the fishing boats produced by the shipyard, while his passion for motorboat racing pushed him to study faster and faster hulls, to which his son Carlo was able to give an outlet in mass production with the creation of the “spider of the sea”, the first Riva that, inspired by competition boats, softened its lines to become an exclusive pleasure boat.
In 1946 the Corsaro was presented, followed in 1950 by the two models that marked the official beginning of the style that has the history of Riva shipyards: the Tritone and the Ariston. The first is a twin-engine 7.60 m with a small cabin under the forward deck, the second proposes the deck solutions on a smaller size, 6.24 m, and with only one engine. The following year it 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 reduce production costs.
These are all wooden boats produced in an extraordinary number of examples at the time and over the years have also changed their dimensions, giving rise to the Super Tritone and the Super Ariston. They were then joined by the Florida and the Super Florida, until the presentation, in 1962, of the famous Aquarama, which soon became the emblem of Cantieri Riva and the icon of a long boating season.
These are the numbers that underline the duration of this extraordinary period: from 1950, when the first models were presented, to 1996, when the last Aquarama Special was produced.
In the meantime, however, at the end of the Sixties, Carlo Riva had sold the shipyard to the American Whittaker and a couple of years later also the management positions had passed to his brother-in-law Gino Gervasoni, at his side since the Fifties.
It was during this period that the production of fibreglass boats began, which for a long time coexisted with wooden ones, but had the ability to create a new style without simply being the “plastic” re-proposal of the historical models.
It is commonly referred to as the first model in the new Riva series, progenitor of the Tritone and Ariston. At the time it was presented as the first “spider of the sea”.
He is the father of the Aquarama, twin-engined 7.60 m equipped with a cabin in the bow under the pontoon, while the sundeck, not in the picture, consists of a cushion above the engine room hoods.
6.24 metres long, which will become almost seven in the Super Ariston version, this single-engine model will remain in production until 1976, exceeding one thousand in the various versions.
The 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.
It is the very emblem of the Riva shipyards. Evolution of the Tritone, the Aquarama, with its 8.65 m and two 350 hp Thermo Elettron engines each, goes into production with many of the solutions of its predecessor, with the large sun deck slightly recessed and the transom to which a central passage is added. At the bow there is a small cabin under the pontoon. Production ended in 1996, also due to the lack of axe masters who knew how to work the wood; the last model bore the serial number 784.
Made famous by the photographs with Brigitte Bardot, the 5.70-metre “little one” takes up the legacy of the Sebino and 626 examples will be produced from 1966 to 1972, also used as a tender.
In partnership with Bertram who “lends” the hull of the famous Moppie 31, this model starts the production of fibreglass hulls. In 7.52 m it has a small fly and a cabin at the bow.