My love affair with Riva Yachts began years back when I saw an image of Brigitte Bardot clad in a striped bikini behind the wheel of her Florida. The image (above - second down), evoked an untouchable coolness - indicative of a Bond girl bombshell in control and flirting with adventure. The boat was a beauty to say the least - clean lines, wooden architecture and interiors that were blue like the sky and made me melt. There is arguably a "je ne sais quoi" quality to the Riva Yachts - their beauty, utility and seduction is unrivaled elsewhere. Riva Yachts date back to 1842 when the first Riva Boatyard was constructed on Lake Iseo, Italy. Through the years of family ownership, the boats became symbols of the finest craftsmanship, elegance and desire, though in 1996, the production of wooden runabout Rivas ended with the introduction of fiberglass. This change in material is perhaps what has made the old wooden boats even more celebrated.
The discovery of Sierra Boat Company on Lake Tahoe might be the closest I'll get to my own Riva or Lake Iseo, Italy for a short while, but is worth the journey. Sierra Boat services and restores a variety of Rivas, also including Chris Craft, Century, Gar Wood and Hacker. In the winter, their 60,000 sq. ft. facility is littered with these beauties just begging for a little attention. In the summer, their marina plays host to many lake boats, including my beloved Rivas. Above are a few captures from a special trip to Sierra Boat Company. The trip was such a highlight and now, I am the proud owner of a vintage Riva burgee (just above) I can't wait to frame. See their collection of Rivas currently for sale, here.