If there is a sweet spot in the yacht market, you can be certain Cheoy Lee is a player. Sailing yachts, trawlers, sportfishermen, megayachts-Cheoy Lee has built them all. While the builder has never sought to dominate any particular niche, it has not been reluctant to cast its net with designs that typically offer surprising value. In recent years, the yard has zeroed in on the 60- to 100-foot-LOA motoryacht market. Its latest effort, the 68-foot Sport Motoryacht, deserves attention.
The target audience for the 68 is fairly broad, according to Kevin Ralph, sales and marketing manager for Cheoy Lee Shipyards North America.
"We have found that yachtsmen moving both up and down have been gravitating to yachts in this class", he said. "While some are migrating from express designs and others from motoryachts, all seem attracted to our relatively conservative styling and the spacious layout it affords."
In a sea of popular, ultramodern Euro-designs, yachts such as the 68 stand out, and the practical aspects of a full, less-swooping deckhouse cannot be dismissed.
"The bottom line is space", Ralph said. "We have not cheated with headroom or the size of the berths. Experienced yachtsmen who enjoy spending time aboard appreciate this."
The 68's design was developed for Cheoy Lee by Tom Fexas and reflects a refinement of designs that have come before. While her interior and exterior arrangements are essentially condensed versions of what you might find on an 80-foot American motoryacht, Fexas' distillation has been achieved without apparent compromise.
Full side decks and interior and exterior bridge access allow the skipper and mate to handle docking without sprinting through the saloon. The bridge has a full helm station and a lounge area with a wet bar, refrigeration and a grill. The boat deck is fitted with a standard 1,500-pound-capacity crane and has room for a 12-foot tender.
The afterdeck has a seating area with a table. A sliding glass door opens to the saloon. Two stools and a pass-through to the galley are suited for casual fare. The galley area is larger than a typical European design-a feature that, according to Ralph, has not gone unnoticed.
"Typically, Americans like to cook aboard; Europeans do not", he said. "We feel this gives us an advantage in the U.S. market."
The day head is another feature Americans often favor, as it saves steps and reduces traffic below deck. The pilothouse helm station is compact but well organized. A pantograph-style door to starboard leads to the side deck, while the owner and guests can lounge or dine at the curved seating area to port. To reduce steps, cruising couples willing to give up a portion of the seating area might consider adding a door to port.
Owner and guest accommodations are ahead of the machinery space and include a full-beam master stateroom, a VIP stateroom with a queen island berth and a guest stateroom with single berths. Again, the arrangement has floor space to spare. The standard layout for the master has a walk-in wardrobe and a single head. The alternate plan has his-and-her heads with an adjoining shower, perhaps an attractive choice.
Crew quarters, which are optional (a stowage area is standard), are abaft the machinery space and accessible from the swim platform and the engineroom via a door in the master shower. While the latter might seem a bit odd, having access/egress at both ends of the engineroom is a safety feature that should be more common. The engineroom is well lit, well organized and has plenty of elbowroom. This is a bonus in the fast-motoryacht market, where big power often translates to cramped enginerooms.
The 68's hull form has a sharp entry with slight convexity in her forward sections. Her after sections are flatter (more efficient) and terminate with 13 degrees of deadrise at the transom. This transition in form (fore and aft) is accomplished with the help of Fexas' shapely hydrofoil keel, which is designed to pass through the water with minimum resistance. A chine ledge controls spray forward and borders the lifting surface aft. While the 68 does not have propeller pockets, her V-drive arrangement keeps weight aft and helps reduce shaft angle and draft.
When I applied her 1,400 hp Caterpillar 3412Es, the 68 rose evenly and reached maximum speed-29.9 knots at 2290 rpm-in 40 seconds, without fuss or excessive smoke. At 2100 rpm, I noted 26.8 knots on our GPS, and the Caterpillar electronics indicated a total fuel burn of 108 gallons per hour. While the 3412Es seem a solid fit, Ralph feels the 1,000 hp Caterpillar C18s will be the most popular choice. He points out that so equipped, the predicted 21- to 22-knot cruise is spot-on for the market. An 18- to 19-knot cruising speed with the standard 800 hp Caterpillar 3406Es is expected.
In terms of technology, Cheoy Lee has always made an effort to stay a step ahead of its competitors. Integral fiberglass tanks and foam-core bottoms and bulkheads have been a part of the company's repertoire since the 1980s. The 68 is one of a new generation of designs that includes resin-infused, Divinycell-core hulls, superstructures and decks. While this process is more complicated than traditional lamination techniques, the high-quality laminate that results is more consistent. Once removed from the female molds, the hull and superstructure are finished with Awlcraft 2000.
Cheoy Lee also infuses interior components, including complicated curved trim and molding forms, to which wood veneer is bonded and finished. Larger trim pieces are supported with foam. The samples of this technology that I inspected were quite impressive. The process saves man-hours (money), weight and wood, and the result is indistinguishable from solid, natural stock. Larger, non-structural interior elements are built using a conventional veneer-over-plywood/foam method.
For those with an eye for an attractive and capable motoryacht, the 68 is worthy of attention. She has a sensible arrangement that will appeal to those who are serious about cruising and a price that seems a bargain compared with those of some imports. Cruise-ready, with 1,400 hp Caterpillars, a complete interior décor package and everything from tableware to electronics, the 68 priced out at $2.4 million. Clearly, Cheoy Lee intends to be creative and competitive in this busy market segment.
Contact: Cheoy Lee Shipyards North America, (954) 527-0999; www.cheoyleena.com. For more information, contact: (866) 922-4877