Launching a single 38 MKI model in 1980 launched an ambitious new company in Sydney in 1980. Perhaps already glimpsing a bright future, by 1981 Riviera relocated to the Gold Coast, Queensland, with a staff of five building eight new boats in the year.
This year, in their 40th year in production with over 500 staff, 10 dealerships in Australasia and over 5600 boats worldwide, Riviera celebrates the release of the new 505 SUV and 64 Sports Motor Yacht. The company has always been a front-runner for innovation in the marine industry and these newest models are no exception.
In 1987, the first Riviera’s touched down in New Zealand, two 38 Flybridges; one with Volvo engines and one with Cummiuns. We recently sat down with John Wainhouse, the purchaser of the Volvo engine 38 Flybridge.
When John purchased the 38, it’s very bare inventory included a Genset, VHF and a microwave (which I’m told was very rare on boats back then) all that for just $295,000! John & his wife Sonia named the boat “Free Life” after the Neil Diamond hit.
Just a few months later, when the pair were holidaying in Taupo, John got the call that “Free Life” had started to sink! In the early days of Riviera, the stern gland had to be manually pumped with grease to stop water coming back in. In this instance, the glands were not greased and the water had begun to come in. After the incident, the Riviera 38 had a long list of things to fix, including needing new engines and it was decided that an upgrade was the way to go.
So, less than a year after he purchased one of the first Riviera’s in New Zealand, John went on to purchase a new Riviera 46 Passagemaker. The biggest seller being that this one had automatic grease glands! “Free Life II”‘s journey to New Zealand began with being escorted by a police car on a trailer going 45km/h to the container ship. John joked that “that was the fastest the boat ever went”
On arrival to New Zealand, the vessel was fairly bare, having the Flybridge, Furuno gear and radars added to it here. John & Sonia both watched the vessel be launched, John from on the ship and Sonia from the tender due to woman not being allowed on the ships. John & Sonia, with their two boys, had some fantastic years on “Free Life II” before the decision was made to sell and buy a batch in Taupo.
Three years later, when the boys were working full time and the traffic to Taupo was getting worse, the convenience of having a boat became more apparent to the Wainhouse’s, and so they started looking for boats. In John’s words “We wouldn’t go anywhere else but Riviera” and so he purchased the third Riviera!
The Riviera 51 continued the tradition and was also named “Free Life II”. She landed in New Zealand in November of 2004, just in time for an awesome summer out on the water! One of John’s favourite things to do on the water is fishing competitions. Although he admitted that he rarely won anything, he and the family loved getting involved and giving it their best shot.
In 2006, the 51 was traded in for the Riviera 60 which he and his second wife Christina both still enjoy today. It has been 33 years since John purchased his first Riviera, he has seen and met many people in his time as a Riviera owner but the stand out for Riviera to John, has always been the Riviera family you gain. In John’s words
“the family which comes with owning a Riviera is worth its weight in gold”.