At one with the water, six of the world’s most legendary and luxurious wooden boats skimmed across Lake Martin in an outing planned by Riva owners Steve and Mary Windom and Mark Clark. Several months in the planning, the excursion included friends from Lake Como, Italy, California and Florida, as well as a filming crew and an aerial-photography drone company.
The troupe visited some of Lake Martin’s most notable landmarks, including Jim Scott’s Garden, Goat Island and Chimney Rock, but the focus was on the marriage of the Rivas and the water.
Valued at more than a half million dollars each, only about 350 Rivas are known to still operate in the U.S., said Alan Weinstein of rivaguru.com, who joined the outing.
“There were just 4,000 total built before Carlo Riva sold the company in the early 1970s,” Weinstein said.
The boats were designed by third-generation Italian yacht builder Carlo Riva in the 30-ish years following World War II.
“The objective was to build a play toy for the rich – one of excellent quality,” Weinstein explained.
The iconic mahogany hulls accented with aquamarine striping became synonymous with luxury, and even today, the Riva is to boating what the Rolls Royce is to automobiles.
“It is the sweetest riding boat in the world, purity of form and function,” Weinstein added.
The boats feature American engines and dashboards that mirror those of cars. They have been showcased in television commercials for luxury items and owned by Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
And they are of meticulous and exquisite design. The hull of each boat was cut from a single tree, so the grains would exhibit a perfect match from one side of the boat to the other. The bow inlays were cut from flat boards to showcase the angle of the grains and contrast with the finer and sleeker grains of the vertical-cut gunnels.The Aquarama models featured a cushioned sundeck over the engine compartment.
And they glide over the water like music on the breeze – a vision of iconic beauty.