Boat Reviews

Riviera Squadron 50

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A patio is generally something that’s open air and used for dining, recreation and entertainment – and it’s easy to see why it’s such an apt name for the latest Aqua boat. If hanging out on the water in complete luxury with your entourage of partygoers is your style, the Aqua Patio 250 WB is for you! The Editor, Dean Castle, checks out this elitist’s pontoon boat.

One of Fairline’s greatest achievements in their long history of building luxury cruisers has to be the development of the Squadron 50 – a trip through this magnificent cruiser proved a veritable ‘Pandora’s box’ full of surprises. This “boat of all boats” begs consideration from discerning big boat lovers who dream of cruising South Africa’s coastline in style.

Importers Derrick and Suzanne Levy of Boating World, who have had years of experience and seen numerous upgrades and new lines coming from respected big boat builders worldwide, came back from an overseas trip recently, positively raving about her.

Boaters in the luxury boat market don’t just look for features, they’re looking for lifestyle. Just one look at the Squadron 50 and you’ll immediately feel excitement stirring – she’s pure pleasure in a nutshell. Her sheer volume is incredible, her entertainment flybridge vast and she has stunning interior features that are hard to describe in a single word, but here goes: “Perfect”!

Right from the outset just seeing her moored next to a jetty is a breathtaking experience. She is absolutely huge for a 50-footer with an incredible height above the waterline of 19’1” (inc. arch + nav. light mast). This is way taller than previous generation models from the London-based manufacturer – creating a platform for vast interior space with enough headroom to swing much more than just the proverbial cat.

It’s hard to believe that she’s only a 50-footer – she seems so much bigger than other craft of her size – more like a floating holiday apartment packed with all the features and luxury to boot. Inside there’s no crouching down anywhere – not even in the cabins – with headroom of 6.4 – 6.6” throughout, it’s amazing, and you have to constantly remind yourself that you’re in a boat and not a building!

She’ll be quite comfortable parked at exclusive marinas anywhere in the world, cruising open waters on daytrips, doing weekend overnighters or even longer trips. One can easily picture a brief sojourn up our wild West Coast to those occasional spots of sophisticated habitation or even east up to Richards Bay or the pristine beaches of Mozambique.

That said, it has to be remembered that the British boat builder always keeps a careful eye on worldwide trends and, with their usual impeccable timing, Fairline has cleverly filled a gap in the market for flybridge cruisers in the mid-size range with this model. And boy, did they do it well! Based on the hull of the very popular Fairline express cruiser the Targa 50, the Squadron 50 is every bit as impressive and then some. While one appreciates the sheer size of her exterior superstructure it takes a closer look to register the number of subtle changes Fairline have made. For example, stretching the bulkheads aft has widened the bow, effectively creating huge entertainment and accommodation spaces usually found on a boat 10 feet longer. Light simply pours in from every direction – from the cockpit through full-length sliding glass doors into the galley and saloon where massive panoramic windows bring the “outside, inside” and not forgetting the master cabin sky lighting.

Also freeing up more space is the absence of a garage for a tender. This has been brilliantly taken care of with an innovative and unique Tender Launch System which creates space beneath for a comfortable crew cabin. A Williams tender jet boat of around nine feet is stored on the rear bathing platform and with a simple press of a button a portion of the platform hydraulically lifts the tender up and on to the water.

Anxious parents have a great view of the action going on behind from the comfortable rear bench seat adjoining the transom platform – which has a really clever arm rest. This folds back to double as a transom door to shut off the cockpit so small kids are always safe. This beautiful craft just shouts modern living from every angle. When hunger pangs get the better of passengers, it’s just a short walk through sliding glass doors into the compact galley which is integrated into the aft end.

Here the chef has excellent counter space for food preparation with pots and pans stored in big drawers underneath and interesting compartments under the window for cups and other loose items to be hidden away beneath a hinged lid for that gourmet meal. This perfect alfresco environment offers easy access to the saloon, cockpit and flybridge – and even cooking can be part of the fun as the chef or host is not cut off from socialising. Better still, because of the open airiness and light streaming in, claustrophobia is not an issue – especially while dealing with oven heat.

Just when you think it couldn’t get better, you’re in for the real treat! This is where the Squadron 50 really differs from the norm – the layout below decks is a real eye-opener. Usually the full beam master cabin is found amidships but in this case the Squadron 50’s main suite nestles forward under the bow and is a huge surprise. Thanks to the towering hull she has all the space and grandeur an owner might expect. You can’t help but notice the exceptional full-length (6’6”) headroom and uninterrupted singlelevel floor space. Light pours in from well-placed skylights and she sports a stunning en-suite bathroom.

Identical twin guest cabins are positioned amidships (one en-suite) with enough headroom and natural lighting to ensure the comfort of guests. Back up the stairs from the cockpit to the “lounge in the sky” – the fibreglass-strengthened flybridge – and again you’ve entered another world which is big enough for a whole party of family and friends. In fact, the Squadron 50 is certified to carry 16 people and while all of them could enjoy time outside in this spot together – 12 would probably be a better number.

The skipper could take advantage of the clear Flybridge helm which is within easy reach and simple to operate and guests could keep him company on the bench seat or on the bench sunpad alongside. Behind this seat is the bar, fridge and grill which is complete with a garbage disposal built into the bulwark. No excuse for litter in this area and a thoughtful addition. This, together with her enormous width, highlights the careful planning which has gone into maximising the social aspect of this boat.

At around 4.47 m wide, a person can stretch out full length on the aft seat and still have room to spare. What a great view from up here and what a sense of freedom. The flybridge is simply huge – again more common on a 60 footer or more with masses of seating for lounging on, or sunbathing. If it gets too hot there’s a large collapsible canopy for protection from the sun.

And if one needs a bit of “alone time” the spacious bow also makes a great sun tanning spot with 2 x Sunbed loungers – which also add comfort whilst sitting on the bow, while whale watching perhaps. There are two large foredeck lockers which are well concealed underneath (with flip-up lids) suitable for fenders, mooring ropes or other loose items. With all this great space and amazing features it’s even more gratifying to note her immense power, thanks to twin Volvo Penta D11 Diesels of 575-670 HP each. Fuel filters are found within ideal reach on the front bulkhead for easy maintenance.

With a top speed of 31km an hour this is not bad indeed for getting places quickly. All round the Squadron 50 begs a much closer look. For more information contact Boating World on 0861 324 754 or email or visit


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