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38 South - Marlin 795 - LEADERBOARD

Chance encounter leads to a lifetime of loyalty

by Riviera 10 Feb 23:05 UTC
Riviera 64 Sports Motor Yacht - Sunset © Riviera Australia

John Wainhouse had never heard of the Australian boatbuilder when in 1987 he happened upon a Riviera 38 Flybridge. It was one of the first two Riviera yachts to have arrived in New Zealand.

"It was purely a chance purchase," John says. "We didn't know Riviera back then. We decided to get a launch through an independent broker and we chose the Riviera with the Volvo engines because we recognised the Volvo brand." Complete with a generator, VHF and a microwave, at $290,000 the Flybridge was a steal. John and his late wife Sonia named her Free Life after a little known Neil Diamond song.

"All of a sudden, Riviera grew right around us. We were lucky to have a berth in Auckland's Westhaven Marina so we saw the 46 Passagemaker come out and then a 51 Flybridge - they were both moored within 100 metres of us. I'd think to myself, gee that's an attractive boat!"

Two years later, John acquired a 46 Passagemaker, keeping the name Free Life. "It was the first Riviera built for survey in New Zealand. During its construction, we made a couple of trips to the Gold Coast and the hospitality of the Riviera team, the factory, everything about it was just tremendous. We were there for its launch, and I remember thinking, this beautiful boat is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I've been loyal to Riviera since."

Bigger and better every year

For a time, John and Sonia swapped their luxury motor yacht for a holiday home on Lake Taupo. But the lure of boating and the Riviera lifestyle was too strong and soon enough they found themselves on the Gold Coast ordering a 51 Flybridge. Free Life II arrived in New Zealand in 2004 in time for 'an awesome summer on the water'.

Riviera's then flagship 60 Flybridge came next. This would be John's 'forever boat' and he kept the name Free Life II.

Today, John and his new wife of four years, Christina, spend four or five weeks at a time on their beloved 60 Flybridge. It's been years since they purchased a new Riviera, but they keep connected with the Riviera family through events organised by Dean Horgan and his team at Flagship Marine.

"For us, each Riviera has been a huge step, each one bigger and better than the last. I thought the 60 was going to be it because it's just magic. We had no intention of changing it - until six months ago."

The first Thursday of every month, Flagship Marine holds a social evening at the dealership's floating pontoon. That was when they showcased the Riviera 64 Sports Motor Yacht.

Riviera 64 Sports Motor Yacht too hard to resist

Friends with John and Sonia for more than 35 years, Christina knows too well how hard it is for John to walk away from a beautiful new boat. But this time, she understood. "We stepped onto the 64 and it was - in a word - palatial," Christina says. "The space the 64 offers, its distinctly separate living areas, the panoramic vision not only the flybridge but the views from the saloon and the master stateroom as well, it's just magnificent."

"We returned to Free Life II, which we always thought was a 10 out of 10, but now the 64 is a 10," says John. "By lunchtime Tuesday we'd signed for the new 64SMY."

For Christina, the technology combined with the spacious layout is 'mind-blowing'. "The joystick control makes it very easy to manoeuvre, and even the washing machine and dryer notify your phone when the cycle is finished!" Christina laughs.

"You can't compare the 60 and the 64 in terms of how space is utilised. There isn't a cubbyhole on the 64 that isn't available for storage and all the different living areas mean you have space apart when you feel like it. The staterooms are magnificent, the bathrooms immaculate, and the sunshine and open airiness of it all is wonderful."

John agrees. "It doesn't matter where you look, it has the best workmanship and no expense has been spared."

Where once the Wainhouses would spend weeks at a time on Free Life II, with the new 64SMY they intend to 'disappear for two to three months, right around New Zealand'. They'll even sell their house so there will be 'no need to come back and cut the lawns'.

"Now with the new Riviera 64, our journey continues," John says. "We'll continue to love the fishing, and love being on a boat that we feel comfortable and safe on. We can go anywhere, weather permitting!"

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