A luxury tender? Or a real classic sporty day cruiser? Or both? All these questions raised during our sea trial in Miami and, after all, they all contribute to outline the versatility of this Rio Yachts boat.
The Espera 34 indeed expresses the concept of a boat able to define itself according to the different end use. A lack of personality? No, it’s just the opposite. It’s a strong well-defined character that is expressed in different directions but always following two concepts: hull performances and comfort. These terms are often overused but, as for the entry-level model of the Italian shipyard, their use is fully justified.
First of all, the boat has got a history. Espera was in fact the name of the first laminated-mahogany boat built in 1961.
It was the age of Avionautica Rio, a company established by the young Luigi Scarani together with his wife Anna. The company, which later became Rio Yachts, produced wonderful gliders and motorboats powered by Rolls Royce and Chris Craft. The first boat of the range was actually the Espera.
We know, not all stories are respectable. It depends on what they tell. That of the Espera certainly tells visions, passion and hopes applied to entrepreneurship and it therefore identifies itself with the history of the brand.
This is why the Rio Yachts entry-level model shows a certain vintage appearance which doesn’t degrade the boat but, on the contrary, enhances its sporty lines and innovative elements. In this “bearing” we recognize the strong personality of this boat which is expressed through precise design elements, all aimed at comfort.
These distinctive marks are immediately recognizable from external lines which could make observers forget to be before a 9.99-metre vessel.
The aft swimming platform, for example, has a depth worthy of larger boats. It leads to the cockpit which is a real open-air lounge, furnished with three sofas, a bar/kitchen cabinet which ideally separates the guest zone from the central pilot station.
The version we tested in Miami had only two sofas, which proves the considerable customization capacity of the shipyard. In particular, the aft sofa was moved to the left to create a larger stern-bow passage. In the middle of the cockpit, the walkway can be raised and converted into a large lunch table.
The pilot station has an ergonomic steering console, handy instruments and a large seat which can accommodate up to three people.
The bow, accessible by two handrails per side, is furnished with two sun pads divided by a window, whose function becomes really significant when you go below deck.
Like exteriors, interiors, too, have been designed by Marino Alfani. The pencil of the designer gives a unmistakable family feeling to all Rio Yachts boats. The minimal approach has both a design and practical function.
The first involves a unique elegance perfectly combined with the external appearance of the boat. The second one concerns the generous spaces and stowage volumes which maybe exceed the real needs of a day cruiser.
The forward section, under whose sofa there are three spacious lockers, becomes a large double bed while other two beds are available in the berth located at mid-boat which is not “repressed” by the ladder thanks to a very light design.
The inner galley is optional while the small kitchen in the cockpit is standard. Designers have mainly focused on the day-cruiser nature of the Espera 34 which probably makes inner galley only an unnecessary and bulky element.
On the starboard side, the bathroom fully replicates the dinette design and it is literally flooded with light by a window located on the starboard side of the pilot console.
Light deserves a special chapter. The division of the bow into two different parts and the choice of a huge sun pad may be questionable but the arrangement of a long window in the middle of the deck certainly floods interiors with an enormous amount of natural light which enhances both spaciousness and the furniture clear colours. The result is a very pleasant sensation of airiness.
We tested the Espera 34 just few minutes after we finished our Rio 42 Air sea trial. It is not therefore surprising that, when we gave full throttle, we got back to our adolescence, when sailing at full throttle was synonymous for fun. From the soft stride, gentle gliding on waves and progressive gait of the Rio 42 we switched to a sportier and funnier sailing experience.
It was even a little annoying to measure the parameters we had to report. And, indeed, we sailed fast for a while around the Rio 42, which hosted our photographer, on a really mild ocean. With little wave and no wind, we intercepted our wake to test the boat on short steep waves and then, when the Rio 42 headed to the inner waters of Miami, we experienced a funny series of fast turns. The Espera jumped and fell down back on the water and, like her elder sister, she did that gently without never losing her contact with the ocean.
When we finally decided to take our first measurements, we stopped the Espera. The two Mercury 260 engines turned in neutral silently. At full throttle and with negative trims, we started to plane in 7 seconds at 13 knots.
We recovered a fast cruising speed which, at 2500 rev range, reached almost 27 knots. At this speed, we turned 360 degrees by losing about 5 knots of speed. In larger turns, speed decreased by about 3 knots before quickly recovering the cruising range.
The sporty soul of the Espera 34 is evident not only in performances – top speed is 37 knots at 3,000 revolutions – but, above all, in her great handling, easy steering and the pleasure to sail light and safe.
Conditions of the sea trial: little rough sea, no wind, three passengers, 30% fuel, 30% water.
2 Mercury 260 Hp engines
Length Overall 9.99 m
Beam 3.4 m
Draft 0.55 m
Displacement 5,000 kg
Fuel Tank 700 l
Water Tank 115 l
Engines 2 Mercury 260 hp
Certifications: CE B/12