Shipyards have become quite consumed with engineering new ways of opening up the roofs on seafaring vessels. A few years' time has given us the vanishing enclosure of the Reversys and the folding top on the Oronero. Now, we have an 88-ft (26-m) Florida yacht boasting its own innovative Convertible Top system.

Italian shipyard Riva doesn't try to make the claim that the new 88 Florida is the first convertible-top boat in the world, but it does say that the boat's convertible system is unique. It's definitely different than the other two systems we mentioned.

The Convertible Top system was designed by Riva's parent company Ferretti Group and is used for the first time on the Florida. When activated, two concealed electro-hydraulic arms pop out of the sides of the deckhouse, grab hold of the roof panel and pivot it forward to open the cockpit lounge and dining area to the blue sky above. The roof panel then nests cleanly in the deckhouse.

"The hard top has turned into an element that is invisible from the side, which can display its major function covering the outer living area without affecting the overall design of the yacht in the least," describes Riva yacht designer Mauro Micheli. "This system results from the match between the technical development of materials and movement and the stylistic research for an element which can enhance the personality of this yacht."

The Convertible Top mechanism allows the 88 Florida to quickly transform from coupé to convertible and back again. When in coupé mode, the side openings between the roof and windscreen can be closed off with a set of transparent panels. When the boat is moored, the Convertible Top offers a third option, serving as a 129-sq ft (12-sq m) bimini top over the dinette area on the foredeck.

In addition to having much different hardware from other convertible boats we've looked at, the 88 Florida is a monster among mice, stretching farther than the Reversys and Oronero lined up end to end. It measures 87.6 feet (26.7 m) in overall length, when being precise, and is designed to accommodate up to 20 people on board. The boat has four guest cabins, including a full-beam master suite; four bathrooms; an interior living area; a galley; a dinette; and crew quarters with separate bathroom, galley and dinette.

The interior makes use of elm wood, an element that invokes a sense of the boat's spiritual predecessor, the Riva Bahamas from the 1990s. That wood is treated with a peach skin finish that provides a soft, fabric-like touch. Other elements that create the interior aesthetic include leather, stainless steel, LED ceiling lights and lacquered surfaces.

Back up top, the foredeck dinette that resides under the convertible roof panel provides relaxation on a C-shaped sofa, with a pair of sun pads located just fore. The stern has a couch and sun pad set-up of its own along with a bathing platform. A stern garage carries a tender up to 13.1 ft (4 m) long, with room for a personal watercraft to the side.

The 88 Florida disrupts the water below with a pair of MTU 16V 2000 M93 diesel engines. The yacht is propelled forward at speeds up to 38.5 knots (44 mph/71 km/h), cruises at 34 knots (39 mph/63 km/h) and wanders up to 340 nautical miles (391 mi/630 km). A slightly more powerful engine option pushes the top speed just over 40 knots (46 mph/74 km/h) while cutting range to 325 nautical miles (374 mi/602 km).

Riva plans to finish development on the first 88 Florida hull this year, premiering the boat in early 2015.

The video below provides an illustration of the Convertible Top system. Riva has doubled up the video, so there's no need to watch past the 1:24 halfway point.

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