David Higgins' boating dream: Boat building with a legacy

For David Higgins, boating and maritime life runs in the bloodline since generations. But while his ancestors lived on and from the sea, David Higgins is one of the key persons behind Riviera’s exclusive yachts.
David Higgins

The northern coastal region of New South Wales is also the most easterly part of entire Australia. There is next to no land at all for 7,000 nautical miles eastward – if you miss the Easter Island, next stop Is Peru. The coast was discovered by James Cook who named one of the sights Point Danger Lookout. Needless to say, this is a coast with a long maritime tradition. In David Higgins family, the sea has been the trade and business for generations.

“I come from a family of fishermen – six uncles, my grandfather and my father were all fishermen. School holidays and weekends were physical hard work. But, I wasn’t allowed to be a fisherman. They said it was going to be too hard in the future. So, I chose boats,” says David.

For 15 years, David has been with Riviera, the largest luxury yacht builder in Australia and one of the leading brands in the global marine industry. In the role as New Product Development Manager, David is a pivotal part of the continuous development of Riviera’s luxury yachts that range from 36 to 77 feet in length across five distinct model collections.


Riviera yacht building facility at Coomera on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Riviera operates from the largest luxury yacht building facility in the Southern Hemisphere, a 14-hectare state-of-the-art waterfront site at Coomera on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

David Higgins sitting by the sea sketching on boat constructions

David Higgins has always had a strong connection to the sea and his boat constructions are designed in harmony with the environment of the Australian costs.

“I am involved in design and concept. From getting it on a computer screen to production. I do the physical plug building, then take molds of that and put the molds into production. And then I put the first boats down the line, to make sure it all works together.”

With the unique beauty of the Tweed coast comes also danger, as already Cook pointed upon his discovery. A beautiful, calm day can change with the wind making an hour’s distance from harbor several hours back For David, that is perhaps the key driver in building the yachts.

“I don’t want to put anyone at that risk. I want them to go out, enjoy themselves and go home with a peace of mind. So, I try to build every boat like it’s my own, making sure it is bullet proof, strong and will last the test of time.”

That robustness combined with sea-keeping ability, clever design and cutting-edge technology has been Riviera’s trademark since the company was founded back in 1980. Volvo Penta has been a key partner in that development, particularly concerning technology. In particular, Volvo Penta IPS has been a huge benefit for the design and maneuverability of the boats.

“There are hull differences between our former shaft-driven boats and our Volvo IPS boats. Traditional boats would have had a tuck in the stern, therefore we lost volume. With the IPS it is more like a speed boat design where it is more parallel surfaces, and this in the end increases the buoyancy in the back of the boat and gives her a better, faster running and stable platform,” David explains.


David Higgins showing the CAD drawing of a Riviera yacht

Riviera was founded in 1980. Today, they build luxury yachts from 36 to 77 feet in length across five distinct model collections.

Enjoying the success Riviera’s yachts are having and taking pride in the distribution of high-end yachts to several coasts and continents, family man David sees boating as a great future also for his children.

“My oldest daughter wants to be an interior designer. She enjoys the whole feel and vibe of the boats and she wants to be a part of that growing up. Although it is up to the kids where and what they want to do. But they see my passion and I think they will always have an internal quest to build boats. It is the bloodline,” says David with a big smile.

Fact box: Volvo Penta IPS

Thousands of applications with the distinctive, forward-facing, twin counter-rotating propellers and individually steerable pods have been installed in hundreds of boat models worldwide. A few of the many benefits when comparing to inboard shafts are:

40% longer cruising range
20% higher top speed
30% reduced fuel consumption
30% less CO2 emissions

50% lower perceived noise

David Higgins

David Higgins' Boating Dream

Boat building with a legacy

For generations, David Higgins’ family has lived on the outcome of the sea. Today, his boating dreams come true at Australian luxury yacht builder Riviera.

This is boating dreams

This is

Boating dreams

Boating dreams are as different as people – and we want to highlight that belief. In the film series Boating Dreams, we meet different people who share their dreams about boats and life at sea. Stay tuned for more episodes!