First 525 SUV cruises from Singapore to Phuket
Bruno Guilmart admits that he feels very, very fortunate … not just to be the proud owner of the very first of the new Riviera 525 model from Riviera’s sporty, adventurous and extremely popular SUV series … but also to have survived a health scare which turned his life completely upside down.
View the video of the 525 SUV Survivor during her maiden voyage to Phuket, Thailand above.
The successful Singapore-based business executive, originally from France and who worked for many years in Hong Kong, has reset his priorities since falling ill to a mystery virus in early 2013.
Today, the seasoned seafarer has the luxury motor yacht of his dreams … and puts his family and health above all else.
“About 2.5 years ago I got seriously ill,” he shares with Riviera Experience magazine readers. “The doctors in Singapore finally found out that I had a virus that was essentially eating away at my organs. I have no clue how I got it but, worse, I was told there was no treatment for it … so my chances of making it were not that good.”
After 12 months of gruelling treatment, limited improvement and what Bruno says were terrible side-effects, he was referred to a French professor considered among the top five specialists in his field in the world.
“Luckily, he had seen this virus before and put me on a totally different cocktail of drugs he had specifically designed for me … with the advantage of having fewer side-effects.
“He told me that he was only 50 per cent of the solution … and that I was the other 50 per cent … so from then on I became absolutely focused on keeping my part of the bargain.”
Bruno – who with wife Misliyah has three boys who share his love of the boating lifestyle – says he was amazed at the immediate and positive turnaround in his health and wellbeing.
“After just four weeks of treatment there was no trace of the virus and then the professor modified the treatment that I had to take for 24 weeks, including having to fly every four weeks to France – the virus is now completely gone.”
Today, Bruno is looking and moving both confidently and enthusiastically forward, with firm plans to make the most of his new lease of life.
“After all the hardship I had to endure I was of course not the same physically and psychologically. I felt I needed to make plans and the first was to retire from my job in two to three years to enjoy more time with my family, and also to take on a new project – and that project was changing my boat.”
This, of course, explains the name of his new Riviera 525 SUV: Survivor.
“Survivor is my fifth boat … my biggest boat yet … my retirement boat,” says Bruno, who started sailing at around age six and has always had a passion for the sea. “She is big, solid, well-designed and I never dreamed I could own one like her … so yes there is a sense of pride. But I’m a pretty low-key, humble guy so perhaps it is more the sense of being very privileged.”
Bruno visited Riviera’s world-class facility at Coomera on Australia’s Gold Coast twice during construction of the sporty and adventurous Survivor – firstly to ensure his specific boating requirements could be met, and then again with his family for the Riviera Festival of Boating in May.
“We came back with our boys to the Festival as a surprise for them, and they couldn’t believe Papa’s boat was in the water as a ‘star boat’ of the show with all the special lighting and signage,” says Bruno. “The boys were very interested in the Ferraris and the other Riviera boats – we inspected almost all of them but we had also a lot of work to do with the Riviera team on the finer details for Survivor before she was shipped to Singapore.”
Bruno says Survivor is the second boat he has bought from Martin Holmes, the general manager of Riviera dealer Lee Marine in Phuket. Martin joined Bruno for the 550NM maiden voyage from Singapore to the 24-hour AoPo Grand Marina on the central east coast of Phuket, where Bruno has a villa and where Survivor is now moored alongside several other Australian-built Rivieras.
“I really like Martin for his style … never pushing for a sale,” he says. “I also value Lee Marine’s after-sales support which is so important when you’re in Phuket … and Lee Marine is obviously the best.
“After some discussions, Martin oriented me towards Riviera based on what we wanted to do – I wanted something clearly different and bigger than my previous boats … a very adventurous, solid and safe boat.
“I slowly studied the Riviera line and we concluded the 525 SUV would be perfect for us. All our three kids love boating and diving, and the SUV’s sea capabilities and spaciousness are perfect for us to go for 4 to 5 days cruising around.”
Bruno admits there were not many options he didn’t include on his new 525, as he loves technology. “Survivor is fully equipped with all the newest technologies from Raymarine, and Volvo and I also wanted also a Seakeeper gyro (stabiliser) … and I have all the safety equipment to do offshore cruising,” he says.
“The boat is very comfortable and easy to drive – I have had a joystick before but they have really improved and, on Survivor, I have two: one at the helm and one in the cockpit for easy berthing. The dynamic positioning is a great feature too!”
Bruno says one of his favourite features is the 525’s excellent visibility and CZone, the digital switching system with iPad connectivity.
“I also think the layout on the living level and the three staterooms downstairs is excellent. You have a real sense of spaciousness with plenty of storage everywhere onboard – it feels like an apartment.
“We really wanted to personalise our boat and while I studied the technology, my wife played the interior designer. The Riviera people at the factory we very nice and accommodating. They have a really positive attitude – ‘yes’, ‘no problem’, ‘we can do that’ – so I have the feeling the my 525 SUV is really unique and my own custom-designed boat … and there won’t be another one like her.”
Bruno says Phuket is a great warm water boating destination and is also great for diving. “Even though I have owned several boats there are multiple places I haven’t explored yet because my previous boats were too small … so we are really looking to continuing to discover all the idyllic destinations we can find.”
Lee Marine joined the worldwide network of Riviera dealers – now spanning some 60 countries – in 1998 and has formed a close relationship with the Australian Marine Industry 2015 Exporter of the Year over the past 17 years.
The dealership is now in the process of moving into a new showroom at the newest marina in Phuket – AoPo Grand Marina – following 18 years of being based at the tidal Boat Lagoon Marina.
“This move will bring us closer to our clients and their boats, including Survivor, of course,” says Martin. “AoPo has deep-water access at all times and is protected by a full breakwater. Its location is superb, looking up to the limestone karstes of Phang Nga Bay (think the James Bond mega-classic The Man with the Golden Gun) and with white, sandy beach islands less than two kilometres (1.24m) away.”
Martin says the Riviera design, quality and attention to detail to be better than it ever has been right now.
“I was personally very happy to have introduced Bruno and his family to Riviera and to watch them gradually fall in love with their new boat, safe in the knowledge that it was absolutely the right boat for their needs,” he said.
Martin, in an email to Riviera CEO Wes Moxey, also expressed his gratitude to the Riviera team for their dedication and commitment to helping Bruno and his family to enjoy ‘the ultimate boating experience’.
Survivor’s maiden voyage – Singapore to Phuket
Raffles Marina, Singapore – Admiral Marina, Malaysia
South Melacca Strait
Wind 10kts from South – slight sea
Admiral Marina, Malaysia – Pangkor Island Marina, Malaysia
Overcast, occasional rain – wind 12 knots from South – slight sea
Pangkor Island Marina – Telaga Harbour Marina, Langkawi
7.8 hours running
Overcast – wind 5-10 knots WSW – 2m swell
Telaga Harbour Marina, Malaysia – AoPo Grand Marina, Phuket, Thailand
7.1 hrs running
Wind 15 – 20 knots S – 2.5m sea, occasional 3m.
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