A fifth-generation builder introduces a reinvigorated, reimagined, semicustom brand.
How does a builder herald the news it has established a new luxury division among its yacht models? Why, by rebranding the new business to stand out in the world and by showing off its yacht-building prowess with a semicustom product.
I’m referring to Cheoy Lee and its new brand CL Yachts, currently with two models, including the CLB 72. To clarify, the “B” in CLB denotes the line of Cheoy Lee yachts it is modeled after: the Bravo series of family-oriented cruising yachts. Conversely the “A” line, as in CLA 76, is modeled on the high-performance Alpha series of Cheoy Lee yachts.
The newness of the brand is evidenced by a refreshed interior and timeless lines. Sure, there’s evidence of the Cheoy Lee pedigree—the family has been in the ship-and yacht-building business for five generations — but this approach seems softer, a simple approach to design with luxury and innovation to support the comfort of yachting.
Access to the CLB 72 is from the swim platform to the aft deck via twin staircases, or at the sidedeck boarding gates. Large enough to hold a water toy in chocks, the hydraulic swim platform doubles as a beach, delivering easy access to the water for activities.
Six steps up is the aft deck. It is high enough to prevent any following seas from coming on deck and to create space for the lower level. Here, the aft lounge includes a well-padded bench seat across the transom and a twin-post table for alfresco dining. Add a few folding chairs around the table and there’s dining room for a crowd. Our test yacht had rich teak decking that added to the overall panache.
The main deck is open and spacious. Visibility is clear from the aft deck all the way forward to the split windshield and lower helm. No interior bulkhead walls are needed, since the CLB 72 upper deck is supported by the surrounding frame, which leaves an open canvas for the interior design team, Interiors by Carmen, to go crazy, but in a simple form. Gray wood flooring and white oak woodwork create a casual feel that encourages the crew to kick off their shoes.
I noticed one thing walking in from the aft deck. No galley. At least in the aft area. Many builders are placing the galley aft to centralize service when the aft doors are open, but CL placed the galley forward to port, a layout that blends the salon and aft deck into one large social area. The arrangement makes sense for an owner/ operator and keeps the salon an area unto itself.
Stainless steel–framed glass doors provide excellent visibility and add to the open feel of the salon. Casual seating includes a portside L-shaped upholstered settee with a corner table that opens at the top for storage, a chair and a glass coffee table. This layout creates an intimate gathering place and affords an excellent view of the 48-inch popup TV in the starboard entertainment cabinet. Stylish wall sconces, a valance and floor lighting add to the intimacy. Recessed ceiling lights are unobtrusive yet fill the area at night.
Forward to port is the combined galley and dinette. CL didn’t skimp here. A Bosch oven, a microwave, a four-burner induction cooktop and a dishwasher compliment the four Sub-Zero 36-inch refrigerator and 30-inch freezer drawers. Stone countertops and a Rodi stainless sink with a garbage disposal exemplify the level CL went to when fitting out the galley. A low-profile L-shaped design helps divide the galley from the salon while maintaining the open access to guests in the salon. A galley island houses the dishwasher and storage and is a perfect addition for increased counterspace.
Under the forward windshield is an L-shaped dinette settee with a glass dining table. It’s a perfect spot to take in the view during morning coffee and an informal social area for impromptu guests. Located to port, it keeps family and friends close to the operator when he’s at the lower helm, to starboard. Nicely tucked away across from the galley is a main deck day head.
Take the Controls
Operating the CLB 72 from the lower station is a breeze. CL designed the helm like a pod, saving space for living features but creating a functional station. By placing some controls in the Stidd chair’s armrests — the Volvo Penta joystick to the right and the Garmin multifunction display control to the left — CL was able to manage the space needs on the helm console. There are twin Garmin MFDs that manage the Volvo Glass Cockpit system, throttle controls, a CZone control pad, a Seakeeper controller and everything else needed for safe operation. A starboard pantograph door provides easy access for the operator to grab lines or assist in provisioning.
By virtue of its design, I expect the CLB 72 will be operated from the flybridge helm most of the time. At almost 30 feet in length and with an integral hardtop, the flybridge deck will be a central gathering area. Twin Stidd helm seats give the operator and companion a perch from which to scan the horizon. It also has a full complement of electronics.
Fiberglass molded seat bases topped with thick cushions and backrests create a comfortable L-shaped settee. Twin painted fiberglass tables are within easy reach of each seat and come with cupholders to prevent spills. A wet bar with a refrigerator/ ice-maker is to port. Ample room on the deck allows for chaise lounge seats or other storage.
Check the Details
One example of the level of quality are the storage hatches under the seats. CL very easily could have used flat pieces of fiberglass to cover the openings. Instead, it created tongue-and-channel openings in the seat bottoms and added rubber gaskets to stop any water from getting into the storage area. And the drain channels have drain lines to ship the water away. Heavy duty lockdown latches are used instead of cheaper types. The details are important, and CL understands that, as discriminating owners are its target audience.
Run it Up
Giving the CLB 72 the power to go are twin Volvo Penta IPS1350 D13 diesels, 1,000 hp powerplants that drive forward-facing IPS3 pods. This beefy package from Volvo includes upgraded pistons, camshafts and injectors, since everything has to withstand the immense forces put on the drive train. Thanks to collaboration between CL and the exterior design team from Apollonio Naval Architecture, the hull performance is nothing short of exhilarating. Pushing 94,000 pounds of resin-infused composite materials through the water is no easy task, and neither is reaching a top speed of more than 31 knots, but CL got it done.
As I found out during our test on hull #2, no matter the speed the 72 responds with surefootedness and agility, more like a sportboat that a motoryacht. Cruising at 1800 rpm yielded about 19.6 knots and a fuel burn of 50 gph. Pushing the sticks to 2100 rpm produced 25 knots and a fuel burn of 73 gph. Impressive speed and efficiency. A Seakeeper 16 gyroscope stabilization system adds to the comfort of the ride. Also adding to the comfort are Volvo interceptor trim control units.
Elegance follows form once again in the lower accommodation areas. Accessed via a staircase next to the lower station, belowdecks has a four-stateroom layout, plus crew quarters. Embedded into several of the horizontal wood strakes are narrow lights that illuminate the staircase — a different approach than using only ceiling lights.
The full-beam master is amidships. Its king berth is sideways, its cushioned headboard to port, under the window. The arrangement essentially opens up half the room, which CL fills with a sofa lounge and table, a dresser and a vanity station. Tinted hull-side windows, nightstands, a cedarlined walk-in closet with racks and drawers, a 40-inch popup TV and ample storage fit out the room. An en suite head features a Tecma electric toilet, a walk-in shower stall with a teak-capped seat, trough-style his/ hers sinks and stone countertops.
Not to be outdone, twin guest staterooms are equally well appointed with twin berths —upper/lower in one room, side by side in the other — cedar-lined closets, a TV, hull windows and storage. These rooms share a head.
A few steps up is the forward VIP guest stateroom, which features a center-line queen berth, hull windows, an overhead hatch, a cedar-lined closet, storage and a TV. An en suite head is private.
The crew cabin, with space for two people, is aft of the owner’s closet and head, in front of the engine room. With a private head and shower stall, the crew area can be used as an extra stateroom if crew are not desired.