This week on The Journal we take you out to sea, updating you on the greatest and latest in the world of boating.
VIVA THE RIVA
The Italian Riva family began making boats in Sarnico in 1842, but it was Carlo Riva, the founder’s great-grandson, who brought the company its international fame. Unlike previous boats, which had been built for specific activities, his creations (which first appeared in the 1950s) were designed purely for pleasure. Boating as a leisure activity hadn’t really existed – so these boats, with their polished wooden sunbathing decks, were groundbreaking.
For two decades, these boats were an epitome for all that was glamourous. Handmade by Italian craftsmen and with a strong heritage, they were both beautiful to look at and owned by the right people – from Brigitte Bardot and Anita Ekberg to Prince Rainier III. Then, by the mid-1970s, fibreglass was becoming the material of choice, and suddenly mahogany desks started to seem a thing of the past.
It was not until 1999, after repeatedly changing hands and at each turn springing a new leak, that it finally fell into safe hands: Ferretti, owner of one of Italy’s largest luxury boat building portfolios. Now, order books are full and new markets are opening up for Riva in the Far East, but the company is achieving this in a very Italian way and there will be no outsourcing of production in a bid to cut costs.
Growth will be cautious, even to the point of managing who gets to buy a Riva. In return Riva tries to ensure that no more than two boats of any model end up in the same country. We love this type of long-term thinking and brand care. Perhaps most comforting is the company’s trust in the people who were already working there, and the knowledge that they had accumulated over 30 years – going as far as founding a school to train a new generation of shipbuilders.
No wonder so many companies are imitating it.
THE FRAUSCHER FAMILY WAY
The success story of Frauscher’s Upper Austrian shipyard is one of quality and passion. The boat makers from Lake Traunsee, not exactly a common port of call for the yachting crowd, are considered to be specialists even among the handful of European boat manufacturers who cater to the high end of the market. All Frauscher boats are hand-made and customers include illustrious personalities from business, politics, and society.
Their latest addition, the 747 Mirage has clearly been built by some of the best boat builders on the planet. Featuring an impeccable fit, finish and stealth jet looks, this 7.47 metre beast debuted at the Cannes boat show of last year. While a new boat, the Mirage is still very recognisably a Frauscher. Designed by the KISKA studio alongside hydrodynamic expert Harry Miesbauer, it features a sharp entry and extra spray rails, combining to force the nose down and produce the kind of turns that only sportscars should be able to make.
On board, there’s plenty of space to stretch out on the rear sunpad, and the backrest of the navigator’s seat can be folded down to create a chaise longue. A bimini will offer shade at anchor, while a fridge and Bluetooth-equipped audio system will provide the fun. With three MerCruiser petrol options and diesels ranging from 232 hp to 430 hp, the Mirage will be no slouch whatever you choose.
J CRAFT AND THE PURSUIT OF PASSION
Founded in 1998, J Craft builds classically styled yet inherently modern luxury motor boats in the best traditions of the Swedish boat building industry. Its distinctive style, fine craftsmanship and exquisite materials is perfectly coupled with robust engineering and real-world usability.
The company’s first boat, the Cabrio Cruiser, left the shipyard in 1999 and was delivered to no one less than the King of Sweden. Not a bad first customer, if you ask us.
The more recent Torpedo is a beautifully styled boat, reminiscent of 60s era Riviera chic but coupled with modern technology and hand built using the latest techniques. The 12.63 metre day boat is available with three different engine specifications taking it to a sprint speed of up to 46 knots and comfortably sleeping four adults plus one captain in two generous cabin areas.
The interior matches its exterior performance, sporting a hand carved wooden Nardi steering wheel, the same as that used in the 1960s Ferrari 250 GTO. As expected, everything is made to order, with the beautiful cloth by Loro Piana available even with diamond stitched upholstery. Another, slightly quirkier, addition available to owners is the exclusive picnic set, including silver cutlery designed by Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, J Craft china by Rosenthal, J Craft glassware, Global knife set and a sommelier set.
Driven by heritage and a genuine pursuit of perfection, J Craft manufacture all of their boats on the beautiful island of Gotland, the traditional heartland of the Swedish boat building industry.