I had an appointment to meet with Cheoy Lee Shipyards Director Martin Lo and his nephew, Project Manager Hans Lo at their 2018 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show display, but I almost walked right past it. Then I stopped and did a double-take. The booth was decked out with bright orange flags bearing the unfamiliar logo of “CL Yachts,” and at the dock behind them sat two motoryachts with ultra-sleek lines and a vast array of windows above and below the waterline. This is not what I had expected from Cheoy Lee at all.
Let me hasten to add that I respect Cheoy Lee, a Hong Kong shipyard that dates back to 1870. Over the course of my career, I have sea-trialed several of their yachts and found them to be sound, seaworthy vessels. But this ultra-chic, contemporary look was something new.
“CL Yachts is a new page, a new luxury performance division of Cheoy Lee,” Martin Lo said. “We are at a turning point of introducing new design philosophies; a new direction as to how we approach the yacht market.” While Cheoy Lee Shipyards continues to build custom yachts, CL Yachts’ focus is on production motoryachts. They will be marketed globally, but Hans Lo said the first CL Yachts models are targeted primarily at American buyers, who represent the largest segment of its market.
There are two CL Yachts lines: the A and B Series, based on Cheoy Lee’s earlier Alpha and Bravo Series models—high-performance cruisers and family-oriented cruisers, respectively.
The CLB72, an evolution of the Cheoy Lee Bravo 72, has undergone perhaps the most radical transformation. In order to accomplish this, the builder asked naval architect Howard Apollonio, who designed the Bravo 72’s original hull, to come back to the drafting table. The shipyard also hired composites engineering specialist firm Gurit to carry out an extensive finite element analysis in order to ensure that adding glazing to the hull sides would not negatively affect the yacht’s structural integrity or impact its RINA certification.
As a result, each of the CLB72’s four staterooms has a larger window area, providing a better connection for owners and guests with the sea. What’s more, in the master stateroom, the dual sinks and vanity—originally located along a side wall and partially obstructing the view—were moved aft. There, along with a walk-in closet, they provide more separation and privacy between the master stateroom and the crew’s quarters, just aft. The stunning new “feature” wall that the CL Yachts design team placed between the master stateroom and head incorporates contemporary glass doors and windows that turn from clear to opaque at the flip of a switch.
CL Yachts also enhanced the CLB72’s performance with a propulsion upgrade to twin 1,000-hp Volvo Penta IPS1350s matched to the Volvo Active Interceptor automatic trim system; both are standard equipment. “We spent a lot of time on the layout of the engine room,” said Martin. “A happy captain equals a happy owner.”
In the open ocean off Ft. Lauderdale, the yacht delivered a comfortable ride in a sloppy sea state. The CLB72’s composite planing hull, laid-up utilizing resin infusion and reinforced with carbon, gave us an exciting ride at speed. We clocked a top end of 30 knots, and when the captain cranked the wheel, the hull really dug in for ultra-tight turns even at wide open throttle.
This is certainly not your grandfather’s Cheoy Lee. —Louisa Beckett
Displ.: 93,916 lbs.
Fuel: 1,180 gal.
Water: 294 gal.
Power: 2/1,000-hp Volvo Penta IPS1350
Price: $3.95 million
Cruise Speed: 19 knots
Top Speed: 30 knots