RIVOLTA 43 VINTAGE • The new 43-footer from Rivolta Yachts blends traditional Maine styling with a dash of European flair
This fall, Rivolta Yachts rolled out the plans for a new and interesting 43-foot Vintage cruising boat. Conceived by the father and son team Piero and Renzo Rivolta as a day sailing, weekending escape machine, the new design combines traditional looks with advanced building techniques and innovative sailing features. Of particular note is the retractable bulb keel that reduces the design’s draft from six to three and a half feet.
The Rivoltas bring an interesting history to the 43 Vintage project. Rivolta Yachts began as an offshoot of the family real estate business in Sarasota, Fla., which in turn evolved out of the Rivolta automotive company that was founded in Italy after World War II. Renzo Rivolta senior launched the car company with a mini bubble car called the Isetta and grew it with a series of successful and exciting sports cars. Renzo’s son Piero emigrated to the United States to launch a real estate development company that today is one of the largest in West Florida. Piero also went into the boat building business, starting with a 90-foot cutter and then expanding into a line of stylish modern motorboats in the 40 to 45-foot range. Piero’s son Renzo is an architect and a partner in the family businesses.
The Rivoltas bring a European flair to all of their projects, and the Rivolta boats are distinctive and finely finished. For the 43 Vintage, Piero and Renzo turned to Maine-yacht designers Stephens, Waring & White Yacht Designs for a safe, seaworthy ocean-going boat that would be easy for a couple or a singlehander to manage.
The Rivoltas wanted a traditional looking hull, but were determined to fit the boat with the most modern sailing elements. The 43’s sheer line has a nice spring to it while the spoon bow and traditional transom evoke yachts drawn by John Alden a century ago. The low cabin top fits the hull neatly with four oval ports on each side and a large sliding companionway hatch. Finished in varnished teak, the cabin and cockpit trim look like Herreshoff yachts in the old Bristol Fashion.
The cockpit itself is large enough to seat eight adults for a sundowner. Aft of the cockpit, Piero required the addition of a sunning area similar to those found on classic runabouts famous along the Italian Riviera, which are usually populated by fetching young women in bikinis. At least that’s the idea.
But if the Vintage looks the part, the new design is also a completely modern performance cruiser. The 43’s rig sports a carbon fiber mast and boom from Offshore Spars that reduce weight aloft while enhancing performance. The rig has been designed with aggressively swept back spreaders and no backstay. This is both a simple rig, similar to the B&R rigs created by Lars Bergstrom, and an efficient one. Without a backstay, you can fly a very high roach, square-top mainsail that is much more efficient than a traditional mainsail.
The headsails have been designed to give the boat three different gears and configurations. For light wind reaching and running, the angles most sailors prefer, you can fly an asymmetrical spinnaker tacked down on the bowsprit and trimmed through a snatch block on the stern quarters. Because it is a fractional fore triangle, this is not a big sail, so it will be easy to hoist and fly using a spinnaker sock.
For moderate breezes upwind or reaching, you can fly a medium-sized genoa on the roller furling headstay. This can be controlled from the cockpit, so you won’t need to climb onto the foredeck to use it. If you want to fly this sail poled out when running in a breeze, you can mount a spinnaker pole on the mast and rig fore and after guys to keep the pole under control. Since the sail is on a roller furling unit, you can fly the poled out genoa, partially rolled up, even in strong breezes when you may not want the mainsail flailing around.
In tight upwind situations or when beating into a stronger breeze, the roller furling staysail will give you the sail area and control you want. The staysail is self tacking, so you will be able to tack the 43 with nothing more than a turn of the wheel. Downwind, the staysail can be flown, but you will need to run lazy sheets for it outside the side stays and through turning blocks on the side decks in order to keep the top of the sail from twisting off and losing power.
Under the water, the Rivoltas and their design team have created an efficient hull shape with a minimum amount of wetted surface so the boat will be quick and perform well in light airs. Plus, they have given the 43 a high-aspect, balanced spade rudder and a retracting bulb keel. By placing the lead bulb down six feet, and with the light carbon rig, the 43 will feel very stable underfoot and will stand up well in a breeze. We would expect the boat to sail very nicely upwind.
The retracting keel reduced the maximum six feet of draft to a minimum of only three and a half feet, which will open up a lot of thin-water cruising grounds. The keel rises into a compartment beneath the saloon table, so no intrusive structures had to be designed that would break up the openness of the interior spaces.
The 43’s interior is set up for two couples, with a quarter cabin that is enclosed with a bi-fold door and a forward cabin that has a centerline double berth. The single head is forward. The toilet has been set up on a fore and aft axis so it will be easy to use even if the boat is rolling or heeled over.
The galley dominates the saloon with an expanse of counter space, a stove-oven and refrigeration. For lounging and meals below decks, you will be able to sit up to five adults at the drop-leaf table. The preliminary interior plans show plenty of locker space and six opening deck hatches.
The 43 Vintage will be equipped with a 75-horsepower Yanmar diesel with a sail drive. With a good quality folding prop, this engine will power the boat at 8 knots in flat water so you will be able dodge bad weather or get home before dark when the wind is light.
This new Rivolta 43 Vintage is an attractive addition to the growing gaggle of weekenders and daysailers that have become so popular in the last decade, joining the Alerion, Freedom, Morris and Sabre fleets.
The Rivoltas have given their new boat a very distinctive look that will be recognizable in any anchorage. And under sail the square-top mainsail will draw attention as the 43 sails by other cruising boats of her size.
The retracting keel makes the 43 even more unique and will appeal to sailors on Florida’s West Coast, the Bahamas, the Chesapeake, Southern New England and anywhere else you find shallow-water cruising. And because the keel has been designed with the lead ballast at its tip, the 43 will have a very stable feel.
A combination of classic lines, elegance and comfort, the living spaces aboard the 43 Vintage will be comfortable and inviting. Yet the boat is a very modern design in all the places that count for top cruising performance. The rig, the hull shape and the keel will all work to make the 43 a lot of fun to sail.
When hull number one is launched in 2010, BWS looks forward to taking it out for a good sea trial.
Rivolta 43 Vintage
Displacement 15,900 lbs.
Sail Area 927 sq. ft.
Engine 75-hp. diesel