CL Yachts Hits Home Run with Hong Kong – Owned CLB72
CL Yachts, the new production yacht offspring of the historic Cheoy Lee Shipyards, sold the third hull of its new CLB72 to a local Hong Kong buyer.
It was one of the shorter deliveries CL Yachts has made in its brief history. After the first two units of the CLB72 headed to the US, the third hull was for an owner in Hong Kong, headquarters of the new motor yacht brand.
A fresh offshoot from Cheoy Lee, CL Yachts shares the historic shipyard’s head office and service yard in Lai Chi Kok in west Kowloon, and builds its yachts in its parent company’s enormous facilities outside Zhuhai, an hour’s ferry ride west of Hong Kong.
Founded in Shanghai over a century ago, Cheoy Lee moved to Hong Kong in 1936. From powered cargo vessels, Cheoy Lee diversified in the 1950s into teak sailing and motor boats, mainly for export to the US, and by the following decade 90 per cent of its production was pleasure craft. The company became a pioneer in the use of fibreglass, phasing out wood production, and in 1999 opened its Zhuhai facility.
Today, the vast majority of Cheoy Lee’s global business is commercial boats including tugboats and ferries, although the brand remains recognised as a pleasure boat builder in the US, where it has a purchasing, sales and marketing department in Fort Lauderdale.
In fact, it was at the 59th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in late 2018 that the company announced the formation of CL Yachts to build new lines of luxury motor yachts, explains Hans Lo, CL Yachts’ Deputy Director and a fifth-generation member of the family that has owned and managed Cheoy Lee since its formation.
“The Cheoy Lee name has recognition in luxury yachting, but not among the younger crowd, so we thought it was time to start a new division that was entirely dedicated to production motor yachts,” says Lo, the nephew of Martin Lo, Director of both Cheoy Lee and CL Yachts.
“CL Yachts represents a shift in focus, allowing us to create this new brand which will represent our luxury offerings in the future in line with our new brand ethos and philosophy.”
This September, CL Yachts attended the 49th Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island with a new CLB72, a unit that had been sold at the Miami International Boat Show in February.
The company then marked its first birthday at the 60th Fort Lauderdale show (October 30-November 3), where it showed hull four of the CLB72 and the first CLA76, while also promoting its upcoming flagship CLB88, currently under construction and scheduled to be shipped to the US in the second quarter of 2020.
Lo, who was born in Hong Kong and educated in Canada, says the two CLB models will be the drivers of the CL Yachts brand, with the 72 leading the way. Hull number three, I Did It, is the first CL Yachts model sold into Asia and offers a window into this new company, as we visited Lo and the boat in Lai Chi Kok.
In fact, on what is generally a clean, minimalist exterior, the most immediately striking feature is the size of the hull windows, which almost seem to mirror those above in the superstructure.
Howard Apollonio of Apollonio Naval Architecture was responsible for the concept and exterior styling, and worked with structural engineer Gurit to produce a RINA-certified, resin-infused composite hull designed for durability, efficiency and performance, reflected in a top speed of 31 knots, using twin Volvo IPS1350 1,000hp engines. Structural integrity is enhanced by the strategic use of carbon-fibre throughout the boat.
“This hull is RINA certified, with CE certification available, which is difficult when you have windows of this size,” says Lo, who spends most of the week at the factory in Doumen and returns to Hong Kong at weekends.
Also notable is the enormous lift-powered beach platform, which extends almost 5ft from the hull so providing almost 7ft of decking from the transom, ensuring masses of space for lounging and fun by the sea, as well as storage for a 12ft tender.
GALLEY UP, ISLAND CENTRE
Upon boarding, the yacht welcomes you with a large aft cockpit featuring a long sofa and sliding granite table, all protected by the flybridge overhang. To starboard is a bar counter with sink, while beside the flybridge stairs to port is a convenient drinks cabinet and fridge, so helping to avoid repeated trips to the galley.
The interior by Carmen Lau, of Interiors by Carmen, features walnut flooring and wenge veneers. The lounge area is clean and formally structured, with a portside L-shaped sofa below large windows, facing a television to starboard.
In the forward half of the saloon, an L-shaped kitchen mirrors the sofa and is packed high and low with storage areas, while an island counter adds to the country kitchen feel. As we make our way out of the harbour, it doesn’t take long to see how the entire galley area becomes the focal point of indoor socialising on what Lo describes as a ‘family-centric’ boat.
The island is like a magnet, the most natural place for people to gather, have a drink or a snack, and chat in pairs or groups; it’s also easy for anyone to join or leave. If the kitchen is the hub of family life, so it is here on the CLB72.
“The galley-up layout allows families to gather as a focal point and that’s why the galley is so big for a boat of this size” says Lo, whose grandfather led Cheoy Lee’s move to Hong Kong over 80 years ago.
For more formal dining, there’s a forward L-shaped sofa to port with a diagonal table that allows space for one or two loose chairs, while the area also contains a dayhead to starboard, with more storage areas fore and aft.
WINNING MASTER CABIN
Forward of the dayhead, beside the single-seat helm station, are the stairs to the lower deck, which offers enormous headroom throughout, a reassuring feature that adds to the yacht’s comfortable, homely feel.
The hallway leads aft to the full-beam master cabin, which benefits from enormous windows on each side and has the double bed athwartships, a layout that appears to dramatically increase useable space.
It creates a huge amount of room around the desk/vanity table to starboard plus easy access to the en-suite bathroom with double-sink vanity, and an impressively roomy walk-in wardrobe aft of the bed. The bathroom even has a glass door that can change from transparent to opaque.
“It’s rare to feel this much space in a boat of this size, ”says Lo, who also points out a washer-dryer in front of the master suite. “Everything’s square and open, and you don’t feel like you’re going to bang your head anywhere.”
Lo said the master cabin in the first CLB72 featured a more conventional layout, with the bed on the centreline. However, as the bathroom mirrors blocked the window, the yard changed the layout on the second hull so the bed faced across the room, a design preferred by the owner of I Did It. The portside guest cabin has twin beds that can slide together and en-suite access to a forward bathroom, which is also used as a dayhead and by the smaller starboard guest cabin, which has bunk beds. The comfortable VIP cabin is in the bow, up three steps, and has a skylight and an en-suite bathroom.
At the other end of the boat, accessed via the transom, is an attractive crew bunk cabin with bathroom. Crew also benefit from a particularly large engine room, with plenty of work space around the machinery, making service and maintenance easier and more comfortable.
The flybridge with non-slip flooring features coffee tables and an L-shaped sofa on starboard, with an adjustable backrest on the aft seats so guests have the option of looking over an open aft deck that can be used for yoga, loose furniture or storage of water toys. The large portside counter features a big covered barbecue, refrigerator, ice-maker and a long counter top, while forward is the outdoor helm station, with a central pilot seat and a co-pilot seat to port. The foredeck features a slightly sunken, three-quarter length double sunpad, although it’s hard not to think more could be made of this area.
The yacht’s technology includes at-rest gyro stabilisation, as well as an active interceptor system to create a smoother ride. Volvo Penta’s Glass Cockpit System integrates CZone monitoring, navigation electronics and engine monitoring, while the IPS pod drives include multiple joystick controls, with two wing stations, port and starboard.
Reassuringly, CL Yachts offers owners a limited 10-year warranty on the hull against structural defects, and a limited two-year warranty on boat parts and components.
Looking ahead, the company plans to consolidate its growing reputation in the US by exhibiting at the Miami International Boat Show in February and the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March.
At the same time, the company is also working on a galley-down layout, with the galley taking the place of one of the guest cabins, to create a much larger entertaining space on the main deck.
“We are currently reconfiguring the layout of the CLB72 for Asia, so other design options for this region will be available soon,” Lo says. “We plan for Asia to become one of our primary markets.”