This little wonder is the Rio Espera (6.9 m), the first Rio ever – Classic Boats


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 Rio Espera
Rio Espera

Rio Yachts is an evocative name in our contemporary boating, home of quality performance boats, strong in a great shipbuilding tradition and the frieze of Made in Italy. But, if today the name conjures up such bolides as the
Daytona 35
or the now upcoming Le Mans, its beginnings are perhaps not as well known, although more than worthy of being remembered and celebrated. It is precisely by looking at these, in fact, that we find some of the greatest classics of our own (and other) boating, icons of the Dolce Vita such as the
Rolls Rio
and, even more, perhaps, the Rio Espera, the first production Rio.

Rio Espera – The First Rio

Sarnico is a semi-cult place for boating enthusiasts, the birthplace of Rio and Riva. And it was here in the late 1950s that the then Avionautica Rio began its conversion to the marine industry, abandoning glider production. Rio’s foundations were born, and with them a small 6.60-meter (later increased to 6.9) destined to go down in history: the Rio Espera. Small, nimble and very elegant, it was launched in 1961 and was an immediate success, a “pop” hull destined to launch the entire shipbuilding line, marking the shipyard’s name in history.

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Rio Espera
Rio Espera (TA variant, with recessed sundeck)

Rio Espera – Design and layout

Speaking of Classic Boat and Dolce Vita, it is almost inevitable not to be confronted with hulls with timeless lines, strong in an evergreen elegance that seems, at times, now unattainable. It is in such a landscape that Rio Espera fits. Wood is, of course, the watchword, the first element to emerge, the beating heart of a more-than-classic hull. The bow is short, a foredeck with little momentum, immediately balanced by the deck, which is very clean and immediately distinguished by two variants: a “classic” one, with a covered stern and “installable” sundeck, and a “TA” one, that is, with a sunpad recessed into the deck, just above the engine compartments (pictured above).

Rio Espera

Excluding possible differences due to the variance and, therefore, the solarium area, the Rio Espera then turns out to be a clean and almost minimal project in terms of space. Like a good 1960s runabout, the cockpit comes to life from the middle of the boat toward the bow, with a curved windshield protecting the occupants. Here, two rows of seats serve, forward, the wheelhouse and any two passengers, offering an additional 3 seats in a small sofa just aft, served by a fold-down table.

Cockpit detail

In terms of lines, momentum and dynamism are provided by the hull complex, which transitions from a convex phase of the aft deadwork to the acute phase that closes in the foredeck, creating lines and designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional, capable of simultaneously deflecting spray, as well as ensuring high performance and good handling. Compared with contemporary shores, the transom is delta outer, instead of curved, and lacks water access.

Rio Espera

Propulsion and performance

Coming to the technical specifications, the first Espera models, still 6.60 meters long, saw a single 185-horsepower Chris Craft V8 engine installed. Once, however, the hull is lengthened to 6.9 meters, two distinct options will be offered instead: a single 230-horsepower Chris Craft or, alternatively, a 330-horsepower Chrysler. The fuel tank always remains 165 liters, while, the maximum speed, corresponds to 37 knots.

Rio Espera – Data Sheet

Year of start of production 1961
Length Over All (LOA) 6.60 m / 6.90 m
Baglio Massimo (B.max) 2.2 m
Fishing 0.48
Displacement 1300 kg
Motorization first examples 1x Chris Craft V8 “283” 185 hp.
Subsequent motorization 1x Chris Craft V 8 230 hp

1x Chrysler 330 hp

Maximum speed 37 kn
Tank capacity 165 lt.
Boardable persons 6

You might also be interested in:

Rolls Rio (6.7 m): questa barca bellissima è una Rolls Royce dei mari, letteralmente



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