Carlo Riva’s legacy
Carlo Riva, “The Engineer”, was one of very few pioneers to leave a lasting mark on the pleasure boating world in the second half of the 20th century, alongside the likes of Richard Hunt, Dick Bertram and Sonny Levi.
From the late ’40s, he laid down the parameters for top-quality production motor boats, inspired in part by the famous American Chris-Craft outfit. Riva visited the great yard in Algonac, Michigan, many times in 1952 to secure exclusive import rights in Italy to its powerful, reliable engines. Then in 1954, he designed and built a state-of-the-art boatyard near Sarnico, later enlarged and further modernised to meet the burgeoning production demand. The yard is still held up as an enviable example of cutting-edge shipyard architecture. It was in this super-efficient facility that Carlo Riva began to build his classic mahogany hulls, from the single-engine Florida up to the legendary Aquarama. As visionary as ever, in 1957 he set up his first boat service, RAM, thus inventing the ultimate modern international-sales tool at a stroke.
As his business grew, he launched a small range of yachts in 1961, starting with the Caravelle 72′, constructed with the famous Dutch yard De Vries. There was also a link-up to build boats with CRN – now another Ferretti Group brand, where the Riva Superyacht Division’s boats are made – another mark of his trailblazing spirit. By 1971, when he left the Riva yard, he had been responsible for over 4,100 new hulls and the creation of the world’s most famous mahogany motor boat brand. His next project, inspired as ever by his passion for yachts and the sea, was the new Carlo Riva Yachting Corporation. In another far-sighted idea, he set up Italy’s first private marina, the Porto Carlo Riva in Rapallo near Portofino, in 1973. During the ’80s and ’90s, he also completed several steel yachts in Ancona under the Carlo Riva Yachting Corporation brand, yet more superb, innovative offerings with his own personal stamp through and through.
In 2012, Carlo Riva received an award from the Altagamma foundation in recognition of his huge contribution to the reputation and the supreme achievements of Italian luxury design, alongside other Made in Italy greats from Gucci and Versace to Bulgari, Ottavio Missoni and Gianmaria Buccellati. A true innovator, inspired designer and meticulous constructor, Carlo Riva is part of a long and magnificent Italian tradition that goes back to the great Renaissance masters.
Having got boat restoration down to a fine art, RAM has embraced his legacy to carry forward his work and vision.