Riviera Yachts has made numerous substantive changes on its new 4400 Sport Series II model based on owner feedback and design improvements incorporated on other models. Most of the changes enhance the utility or creature comforts and so what was a good boat, in our opinion, has just gotten a little bit better. The 4400 is designed for people who really want to use their boat to go cruising, as well as entertaining around home.
|Length Overall||49' 7'' / 15.12 m|
Currently no test numbers
2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta IPS500
The Mission of the Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht
The Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht has been designed with the cruising family in mind. She can sleep five people in two cabins below, but of course the settee above can be made into a sixth bunk in a pinch. The standard boat is designed to be versatile and owners can select the options to make it more appropriate for their specific needs and crew. Most of the changes are intended to make the boat more user friendly, better for entertaining, as well as making her even more attractive to the eye.
Designed for real cruising.
That might sound like a given for this class of boat, but in fact many 44' express cruisers on the market are really designed for dinner at the dock, and a three-mile cruise to a nearby beach in the Med. The Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht Series II, on the other hand, has been carefully designed to be a real family cruiser that can embark on serious coastal adventures. Yes, the Australian Riviera 4400 would be at home on the French Riviera, but she is capable of much, much more.
The 4400 is the only boat in class that we can think of that was designed to sleep three people in the mid cabin. We think that this layout is a great idea because it helps accommodate a family, as well as another couple with a child, as guests.
Pilarless salon aft bulkhead.
We have seen this smart design in a few other boats, but it is still relatively rare. By installing strong stainless steel frames in the door and window to the aft deck, Riviera is able to open up nearly 75% of the aft salon bulkhead and door to the outdoors. This gives the salon and galley fresh air in balmy temperatures.
Overhead grab rails.
Because Rivieras are built on the east coast of Australia where the rollers can be big, it has a culture of putting in traditional sea-keeping safety devices such as the overhead grab rail in the salon. (Boats that rarely venture offshore don't need them.)
Large, styled portlights in bow stateroom.
For the last 10 years or so designers of large Italian motoryachts have been putting large, styled portlights in the master staterooms of boats. Once again, Riviera has taken a page from this class and incorporated the idea in its 4400. By placing large portlights in the forward cabin it brightens it, makes it look larger and transforms what could have been a dreary cave into a nautical water bed.
Practical design and execution.
All over the Riviera 4400 we see cruiser-friendly designs built in. For example, below there is a linen closet above space for an optional washer/dryer. In the cockpit there is a small hatch for daily engine fluid checks and a large hatch for more extensive access. Both heads have separate shower stalls.
With a 15' (4.58 m) beam, the 4400 has one of the widest beams in class. This gives her slightly more room below and on deck and should make her more stable both underway and at anchor.
Asymmetrical transom access.
Many builders choose to have two stairways from the stern platform to the aft deck. Yes, it is symmetrical, but it wastes a lot of precious space. We like the wide bench seat that goes across almost all of the transom, leaving just one entry passage. As a result the aft seat holds more people for al fresco dining or cocktails.
Major Changes in the 4400 Sport Series II Model
*Longer overhead hardtop extending farther back over the cockpit. This allows the aft deck to be buttoned up with cruising canvas making the boat an all-year round vessel.
*Addition of a seat on the port quarter of the aft deck permitting one more person to sit at the table.
*Option of a “mezzanine” seat facing aft in the cockpit.
*Restyled hard top to reflect the sleek 5800 SY look.
*The addition of large, long portlights in the master.
*Larger portlights in the mid cabin.
We have not tested the Riviera 4400 but the folks at Riviera have. Their techs report that when powered by the optional Volvo Penta IPS600 system which has twin 435-hp diesels, her top speed was 32.3 knots.
No one runs a yacht at WOT for long so that speed is really meaningless. Her most efficient speed for fuel consumption and range at planing speeds is at 3200 rpm where the boat will travel 29.9 knots, burning 37 gph/140 lph for a range of 288 nautical miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The Riviera techs report that the test was conducted with a full load of fuel and water aboard and the wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots. We would call that a real-world test.
In most conditions we would probably run the Riviera 4400 at something around 3000 rpm which translates to 25.5 knots according to the company's data. At that speed fuel consumption is about the same, but the ride should be more comfortable for all.
Comparison with other boats in class
When we use the BoatTEST.com comparison feature to compare the Riviera 4400 with many other express cruisers in this size range we find that she is one of the widest and also one of the heaviest. With a draft of 3'11" (1.20 m) she also draws more water than most as well. Despite her weight, beam and draft, when powered by the Volvo Penta IPS600 435-hp diesels she is also one of the fastest boats in class. Perhaps that is why these engines are the standard and only ones offered.
Undoubtedly the most important aspect of the 4400 is its propulsion system. The Volvo Penta IPS600 system comes standard. Twin 435-hp diesels drive the dual-counter rotating, forward-facing props on pods. This highly efficient system allows smaller engines to be used than what might otherwise have to be installed in a boat weighing 27,600 lbs (12,500 kgs.). A joystick comes with the package so docking is a non-issue.
By moving the engines to the stern and under the aft deck, room is freed up for the large mid cabin. A secondary benefit is the joystick which makes docking simple.
Two en suite staterooms.
As already noted, the master stateroom is forward and has full standing headroom. The mid cabin becomes the guest stateroom even though it is full beam because it does not have full standing headroom throughout. It does have standing headroom at the entrance by the hanging locker. Both heads have private entrances.
Large aft deck.
Because of its asymmetrical transom access there is more room for people to sit in the aft deck. There is a full wet bar to port with refer and sink standard and icemaker optional. As many as four or five folding chairs can be placed around the teak table for dinner that can handle eight people.
The salon space is simple and therein lies its utility. Four or five people can be seated at the settee. Opposite, the L-shaped galley has all the appliances needed as well as some working counter space.
The settee is leather, the table raises and lowers, there is a hand hold on the overhead, and the sun roof is electrically operated. What more could you ask for?
Helm station for two.
Regular readers know that we always want to have at least two seats at the helm and the 4400 has two which are electrically adjustable. The skipper sits outboard and both seats have bolsters so that both can stand when desired -- and still see out the windshield!
Riviera has thoughtfully lowered the instrument console so that most of it is below windshield level. This is important as many boats in this class have raised instrument panels which greatly cuts down on forward visibility.
Because the Riviera 4400 is a galley-up design the builder can devote a lot of space below to the mid cabin and the two heads, which are both large for this size boat.
In all boats this space is pretty much the same, but Riviera has improved on the design by putting in large port and starboard portlights which brighten the cabin. In the head the shower stall is probably the largest in class and we like the fact that both the sink at the toilet can be used by two people at the same time.
As noted above, this is the only boat in class that has built-in sleeping accommodations for three people in two beds. The cabin is full beam and has two large portlights. Its en suite head is also large, with a separate shower stall, and again both the sink and toilet can be used at the same time by two people. This may seem like a small detail, but when two people are rushing to get ready for a dinner engagement, it really comes in handy.
The large stern platform shown in the pictures of this report is an important part of the utility of this vessel. She is made for serious cruising and watersports and much of that activity will take place right here. Store a tender or PWC here. Set up deck chairs or use it as a diving platform.
We like the large storage compartment in the transom which is ideal for fenders, lines, scuba gear, mops and buckets.
The 4400's foredeck has the requisite sunpad which has been carefully designed to shed water and not to be blown off by the wind. The bow pulpit is integral to the deck which we like.
Observations on the Riviera 4400 Sport Yacht
We think that the Riviera has been designed by a team of experienced cruising people who know what should be aboard a boat like the Riviera 4400. And to their credit, pride did not keep them from making a good boat even better.
Further, it is clear that the design is intended to be utilitarian and not a "show-piece" at the dock in St. Tropez. Not that she isn't sleek and beautiful, as we think she is, but she is not adorned with the fru-fru we see on some yachts in class that are really intended for dockside entertaining, sunning off the local beach, or impressing landlubbers that don’t know much about boats.
Her bottom was designed in collaboration with the engineers at Volvo Penta specifically for use with the IPS package, so we know that the hull and propulsion system is a good match. She comes standard with an Onan 11 kW generator.
The Riviera 4400 is one of the company's newest models and because of her room, simplicity of design and obvious sea-keeping abilities, and large cockpit ideal for entertaining, she should appeal to a broad audience of yachtsmen and women.
We hasten to recommend to people thinking seriously of the 4400 Hardtop Express to also take a good look at the Riviera 43 Open Flying Bridge model. Her accommodations plan is pretty much the same, but since the helm has been moved to the flying bridge the saloon is much larger. We like convertibles for a number of reasons, one of which is a lot of extra living space is gained without a commensurate increase in price.