— By Capt. Bill Pike
— November 2001
|Wellcraft introduces a plush 47-footer with a performance punch.|
I remember the first Riviera I ever tested. She was an Australian-built sportfisherman--a 36-footer or thereabouts--and maybe a little angular and unfashionable by the Euro-style standards of the late 1980s. She was also quite nicely put together, as I recall, thanks to modern construction methods from an up-and-coming company that had only been around since the beginning of the decade. Few builders at the time were incorporating rot-proof solid-fiberglass stringers, transversals, and panel stiffeners into their boats or, for that matter, leakproof windshields with receivers and mullions of fiberglass instead of anodized aluminum.
Rivieras are still being built in Australia today, of course, but the way they enter the American market's changed some. While Riviera dealerships go on offering an ever-expanding array of sportfishing convertibles and other vessels imported in the usual manner, a few models are being sold under the Wellcraft marque via a Wellcraft/Riviera partnership that started with the introduction of the Wellcraft 45 Excalibur some seven years ago. The partnership remains effective. Wellcraft continues to put design, transportation, and marketing acumen into the mix, and Riviera contributes its own design skills as well as a raft of sophisticated construction techniques, primarily because Riviera was into all-glass boatbuilding well before the majority of stateside builders were even experimenting with the concept.
The latest addition to the Wellcraft/Riviera line is the Wellcraft 47 Excalibur, a slightly expanded, more curvaceous version of the 45 Excalibur, which it replaces. I tested the 47 on Tampa Bay recently, under typical central-Florida, summertime-afternoon conditions, which means seas running somewhere between one and two feet and humidity and temperature readings lusty enough to raise a sweat on an empty deckshoe. My first impression was a lasting one: While the 47 is certainly a luxurious cruiser, her true essence is as obvious and palpable as a Wellcraft Scarab's: high-performance speed and handling.
Three aspects of the 47 are aimed at accomplishing this. First, there's the race-bred deep-V hull form. With a transom deadrise of 21 degrees, two lifting strakes on either side of centerline, and wide, stabilizing chine flats aft, the 47's running surface is expressly shaped to slice waves and track like a train on straightaways. Moreover, a subtle rounding of the bottom near the stern generates speed-enhancing lift there and facilitates the sideways slide of water under the keel for tighter turns.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.