Carlo Riva’s Yacht Club

Welcome. Como on in! Yes Rabbit said I could make up the captions. So you get Como on in jokes.

Huge Shout out to Rabbit for this amazing secret spy photos of the Riva Club. Oh, ya, spy stuff. If he was caught taking photos like a tourist he would be locked up in a “camp” in the country side. No really. Thankyou Rabbit for your service and risking your life for these images from the better side of life!

Sit right down here and have some Riva liquid goodness. Mmm three types of varnish?

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Cannes Lions advertising festival. It’s a week of award shows, seminars, and general hob-knobbing with advertising types from around the world. It’s also a place where the rose flows like water and there’s some first class entertaining.

Okay, thats one very expensive marina

The organization that sponsored the panel I spoke on sponsored a dinner the first night of the event that I couldn’t refuse: A boat cruise to Monaco and dinner at the Monte Carlo Yacht Club. As I boarded I repeated the phrase in my head “I am not worthy.”

File photo of Rabbit from Monaco.

I thought I was blessed when I had the chance to visit Monaco several years ago when we filmed a round-the-world commercial and film series for my client at the time, Cadillac. We filmed during the Monaco Historics, a race held the weekend before the Monaco Grand Prix Formula One race, featuring historic Grand Prix cars from the 1920’s through the 1980’s. Being able to own a multi-million dollar car once driven by Jackie Stewart or Juan Miguel Fangio is one thing. Having the means to fly a crew of mechanics to Monte Carlo and risk going wheel to wheel with another $20 million car is yet another.

Carlo says hi!

Because we were doing a semi documentary series along with the Cadillac commercial I was also able to fit in a short film about Riva, including a trip to the iconic Monaco Boat Works and a cruise along the Riviera with with Carlo Riva’s granddaughter, Carla. Pinch me.

But that was in the past. What I didn’t expect in this dinner cruise I was about to take part in was that the Monte Carlo Yacht Club would include yet another shrine to Riva.

Wow.. Hand cleaner! And young people. That club has it all.

“Yacht Club” conjures up certain images. But a yacht club in Monaco is on quite a different level. Designed by the famed architect Norman Foster, it’s a stunning new structure on the water, of course. Monaco/Monte Carlo is a tiny independent principality nestled between France and Italy. It’s a tax haven where the world’s billionaires come to play. The streets are filled with Ferraris and Bentleys, and the harbor is filled with mega yachts. (Although, it was pointed out, the Russians had largely left.) Riva Tritones and Aquaramas are as common as pontoons on my home lake of Balsam Lake, Wisconsin.

The welcome matt

When we entered the yacht club I briefly regretted donning my dirty Nikes. But the first sight I saw in the lobby was a Riva unlike any I had ever seen. It looked like a Tritone, down to its signature Riva aqua upholstery. But it was only three meters long. (That’s about ten feet, fellow Americans.) A glance in the cockpit revealed two sets of very well crafted pedal assemblies. And on its side was the model name “Violetta.”

Some more special Riva hand sanitizer. The secret ingredient? Mineral Spirits

Amazing setting for some very cool models

Some quick research on my phone revealed that it was, indeed, a pedal boat and not just for children. It appears that only around twenty were ever produced, so I can only imagine their value.

Parts or Jewels? Its all in how they are presented. I say Jewels

But the Riva goodness wasn’t over yet. As we waited to board an elevator to the rooftop deck where dinner would be served, I noticed Riva, Chris Craft Cobra, and Gold Cup models amongst the yachting cups and trophies. Once on the rooftop, dinner, champagne and rose awaited as looked over the gilded harbor. However, at the end of the roof deck was an indoor bar. And not any bar: It was the Aquarama Bar, a tribute to Riva and Carlo himself, down to the most minute detail. The floors seemed to be (and probably were) mahogany.

Take a seat, but don’t sit there.

That cushion is so cool. WOW. Love it all, the color and note the texture of the fabric, leather? Some special Riva Magical stuff?

The bar was fashioned after the bow of an Aquarama, right down to the Riva bow light and burgee. A black and white photo of Carlo at the helm of one of his creations filled the back of the bar. Chromed Riva hardware was everywhere. Even the pillows on the mahogany chairs were finished in Riva aqua and embroidered with the hallowed name.

Note the curved tops of the shelves. Thats the detail that makes it all work. And that ceiling, and the… AHHHHHHHHH

The other attendees knew they were someplace special. But only a Woody Boater knew just how special it really was.

That lamp is insane bad ass, so totally cool!

Eventually the night had to end and we boarded coaches for the drive back to Cannes. I was seated next to a Swede, a Norwegian, and a Finn who had snuck out a couple of bottles of champagne for the ride home. I asked them, “did you see that bar?” Coming from three countries surrounded by water they, indeed got it. “Riva!” They toasted, and we all had another glass.


17 replies
  1. Doug
    Doug says:

    If your in Gravenhurst Ontario Saturday July 9th you will see a Riva or two up and personal at the Toronto ACBS boat show – hope to see you there

  2. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Looks like a perfect time to show the single Riva part we stock. Have both rotations of engine tags.
    The photos posted are beautiful. Not being a flyer it’s the only way I’ll ever see it.

  3. Berlin Büro
    Berlin Büro says:

    Oh wow! Next time my company goes to Cannes I’ll try to infiltrate this swanky club

  4. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Nice report Rabbit! Once in a lifetime place to be and as the Bilgerat, I definitely would be out of place there. I would be quickly reminded to return to the bilge!

  5. Floydrturbo
    Floydrturbo says:

    Wow, an insider’s view of the inner circle. Rabbit has cracked the code or already had the code. Unfortunately, I’m with Bilge Rat so thanks for a glimpse of the good life, well this is more than just the good life. Having recently watched the Fornula One race at Monaco, I was dreaming of a vintage race event they should hold there and damn if you have already attended. After something like that all you would need is to go back to your date with Rachel Welch and hopefully not wake up. I guess I’m pretty much dating myself literally and figuratively.

  6. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Thanks for the tour of a stunningly gorgeous place, that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

  7. Chuck Crosby
    Chuck Crosby says:

    I was in the south of France for the 2007 Rugby World Cup…This picture is as close to a Riva that I got…It was located in a small port somewhere between Cannes and Nice…This is a pretty magical place in the off season

  8. Steve Anderson from Michigan
    Steve Anderson from Michigan says:

    Wow, that’s something special that I didn’t even know existed!

    Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    Now I must ask, ‘what else don’t I know about?’

  9. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Rabbit this is AWESOMELY AWESOME!!!

    Thanks for bring it to our world 🌎.

    Another great example of why WoodyBoater needs to stick around to bring us all great stories like this.

Comments are closed.