Making waves

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am


MULTI-MILLIONAIRES love their water toys, and if there is something innovative and eye-catching for their superyacht, you can be sure they have got one on order.

Submersibles like the U-Boat Worx C-Explorer and US Subs' Triton are the perfect way for yacht-owners to explore the world underneath their bathing platforms.

With all this high-tech kit stowed onboard, the yacht garage can start to look rather full, but owners are finding space for one more rather special item, a Riva. Or to be more precise their latest model, Aquariva. This is a nippy little runabout boat that is 33ft long but evokes all the glamour of la Dolce Vita and Riviera style circa 1960s. It oozes cool.

From the 1960s Riva's sporty runabout boats were the toys of playboys and film stars. Brigitte Bardot, the French sex symbol zoomed around the beach parties on the Cote D'Azur aboard her Florida, wearing little more than a bikini. In the late '60s she replaced the Florida with a Riva Junior, a popular choice for enthusiasts, as waterskiing became a fashionable pastime. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton also owned a Junior as a tender for their yacht; Sean Connery and Sophia Loren owned Riva Rudys, while King Hussein of Jordan would anchor his Super Aquarama off Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera. It was a status symbol of the 1960s jet set.

For its latest revamp, the Italian boat-builders have hooked up with Frida Giannini at Gucci and Marc Newson, the Australian product designer. Gucci has given the boat a chic makeover with white furnishings and trademark details as one of the luxury accessory label's 90th-anniversary projects, while the Newson revamp has the feel of the 1960s combined with the latest in nautical design.

While Riva oozes quality and heritage, it is not the only tender toy speeding around the Med this summer. The J-Craft Torpedo is, similarly, a blend of classic style with modern technology, taking its design inspiration from the Riviera from the 1950s. This Swedish-built speedboat, which comfortably hits a speed of 40 knots, is one of the few modern designs available that uses fine wood veneers on deck.

Equally stylish and nostalgic is the Scalar-Speedster, which comes with various deck layouts including the 1930s classic twin-cockpit - another sleek hand-built varnished mahogany and teak runabout.

If you're looking for something more high-tech, the XSR48, with its monocoque hull that resembles the boat James Bond sped down the river Thames in The World is Not Enough, should fit the bill. Its twin bi-turbo diesels ensure it can hit speeds of 70 knots.

Looking less like a bullet is the Whitmarsh 11M rib, which made its debut at the Cannes Boat show last year, and must be the most stylish, streamlined rib on the high seas. It is another fast tender for adrenalin junkies with great handling and incredible acceleration.