Italian luxury yacht maker Riva has been crafting boats since 1842. Its polished mahogany-hulled launches are world famous, and quite rightly so. What other boat would the world’s most eligible bachelor use to sail down Venice’s Grand Canal; new bride at his side, the global press recording every single frame? Why, none at all. It could only have been a Riva. George knows how to pick ’em.

Impossible glamour was also the order of the day at the annual Classic Riva Trophy in September, where we took our places for a sun-drenched start in the port of Monaco. More than 20 exquisite craft, built between the 1960s and the present day, and ranging from 6.8 metres to 28 metres, were resplendent on the starting line ready for the sail to Cannes. Illustrious models with names like cast members from Made in Chelsea included the Super Ariston, Iseo, Aquarama, Saint-Tropez, Aquariva, Rivarama, Rivale, Bahamas, 63 Virtus, 86 Domino, 92 Duchessa. Alright – 63 Virtus sounds like a character on Game of Thrones. Participants were beaming and waving like loons as the event kicked off and who could blame them with two days of sport, fun, glamour and decadence just beginning.

With sponsors such as Moët Hennessy and Vertu, the Riva Trophy is, as one might expect, one of the most exclusive nautical events on the calendar, taking in three major playgrounds for international yacht owners. After an exhilarating start, my only issue of the day was choosing between bellinis and champagne as we sped effortlessly through the waves. However, since Lusso’s boat had Veuve Clicquot’s ambassador on board, our choice remained clear.

After arrival in Cannes, a mooring contest took place before we collected picnic lunches for the next leg to the beautiful islands of Iles de Lérins. We anchored en route to dine and then took a dip in the refreshing waters. This, dear readers, is the life. An evening’s stop in Saint Tropez provided our entertainment: a Brazilian-themed extravaganza at La Plage des Jumeaux. Glittering samba dancers and capoeira talents swayed all to the sound of German oom-pah bands (not really – it was live Brazilian music).

The following day’s treats were no less lavish. Beginning with a lively gathering in the square outside Riva’s Saint Tropez office with Italian delicacies freshly prepared by Il Paese dei Balocchi and ceremoniously washed down with yet more Veuve Clicquot, it just felt rude to decline. Once aboard our craft, it was Monte Carlo or bust for the Riva Contest of Elegance. We were a little baffled about this – we weren’t sure if it meant the boats or the passengers. Either way, we didn’t win.


By this point I had well and truly fallen in love with my gorgeous, racy Riva, and was already dreading leaving her behind. But leave her we did – the only consolation being an invitation to the final gala event at the dazzling and uber-exclusive Yacht Club de Monaco. Held on a top-floor terrace, open to the harbour views, it’s designed to simulate the deck of a huge and very beautiful boat. Its lounge bar was decorated in the unmistakable Riva style, complete with iconic images of the brand through the ages – including the iconic shot of Bardot on board a Riva in all her 1960s glory, unsullied by too much sun or fascism. Riva’s own Lia Riva and Alberto Galassi, CEO of the Ferretti Group (now the marque’s owners) delivered the requisite elegant speeches and handed out incredible prizes to the winners of the two days’ events. It was now clear that we hadn’t won anything at all. Riva, however, had won a special place in our hearts.

Riva owners from across the globe along with sponsors such as Vertu and Veuve Clicquot gathered at the Yacht Club de Monaco to take part in the annual Classic Riva Trophy 2014 race, now in its seventh year. Organised by Lia Riva with the Monaco boat Service group and Style Lab, the group agency Visit for details of this year’s event.