Cheoy Lee Bravo 88: Driven by Design

The Cheoy Lee Bravo 88 illustrates the next stage of evolution for this builder. By Dudley Dawson.


A number of yacht builders include the word shipyard in their corporate name, but few are truly shipyards. Many are yacht yards; others are simply factories building floating widgets. Cheoy Lee is different, and a quick look at its portfolio of deliveries, including more than 5,000 yachts and commercial vessels since 1870, confirms this fact. It is from this wide diversity of craft, large and small, that the Cheoy Lee Bravo 88 emerges. And it’s soon clear that the company is driven by design and engineering.


The design, in this case, comes from MG Burvenich Yacht Design in Florida. Mike Burvenich worked with the late Tom Fexas for many years, creating yachts for a number of builders and private clients. A licensed professional engineer and graduate naval architect, he also worked for Gibbs & Cox of SS United States fame, designing U.S. Navy destroyers, so the depth and breadth of his expertise are a good match to Cheoy Lee’s.


For the Bravo 88 hull, Burvenich started with a fine entry and steep deadrise forward, reminiscent of many Fexas hulls, but then warped the bottom into a relatively flat 14-degree aft deadrise. That’s not the full story, however. Burvenich says his goal was “to develop a really seaworthy hull that’s also very efficient.” Knowing that most yachts spend far more time at cruise speed than at wide-open throttle, he wisely aimed to maximize the efficiency at a fast cruise, around 20 knots, rather than at the top end of nearly 27 knots. To accomplish that, and to keep running trim below 3 degrees, he incorporated broad “running flats,” essentially lower chines that widen to about 2 feet 9 inches aft.


Although Burvenich handled most of the engineering as well as the hull design, the structural engineering was developed in conjunction with composite specialist Gurit, formerly SP-High Modulus, of New Zealand. The firm is involved with everything from milking machines to ice hockey equipment, but is especially well-known for its expertise in yacht and military-craft construction, the common denominator being the highest of high-tech composites.


The exterior styling was also completed by Burvenich, working in conjunction with Cheoy Lee’s staff. Burvenich refers to it as “traditional style with contemporary flair” and says he hopes it will someday earn the title of “timeless.” The interior design was carried out by Sylvia Bolton Design of Seattle, and it is a nice match to Burvenich’s exterior: stylish and modern without being stale or faddish.


Such first-rate teams are not unusual for superyacht projects, for which the added expense of hiring strong talent can be justified by the final product’s price tags, but credit must be given to Cheoy Lee for bringing this level of talent to bear on the Bravo 88. Part of that fiscal magic comes from sticking with the same team for the entire Bravo series, which includes models ranging from 65 to 95 feet. There’s also a 103-foot trideck yacht in the works.


Keeping the team together and focused on a particular series provides flexibility in accommodating semicustom requests from owners. For instance, the mold for the Bravo 88 can actually yield hulls of various lengths up to 92 feet. There are also many options for the interior arrangement. Cheoy Lee and Burvenich have already met with a client to discuss a version of the vessel that rearranges the stairways and staterooms, allowing a private entrance to the master suite, a much-desired feature normally found only on much larger yachts.


The private entrance is not the only feature that reminds one of larger yachts. Bolton is the talent behind the interior design of _Mazu_, a 151-foot Cheoy Lee with a distinctive red hull, and other large custom yachts. It is not always easy to scale down big-boat details into a smaller package, but Bolton seems to have mastered the task handily with the Bravo 88.


Entering the salon from the aft deck, it’s tough to pause for a look at the gently curved and tasteful arrangement of seating and tables because of the stunning dining area just beyond. There, the forward bulkhead seems to glow with an inner luminescence, the chandelier above the table demands a prolonged gaze upward, and the table itself is a masterpiece of the woodworker’s art, with the prominently striped grain configured in four perfectly matched panels set at right angles.


The luxury continues belowdecks, where it’s difficult to distinguish between the VIP (forward) and master stateroom (aft, adjacent to the engine room). Both are finished to the same high level, with touches such as raised-vessel sinks, vanities and lounges for private relaxation. Each benefits from a full-beam configuration with two large and elongated portlights per side, and as on the main deck, the joinery is immaculate. The master stateroom has a king berth and a full-beam, double-vanity bath, while the VIP features a queen berth and smaller head.


Four additional guests are accommodated in a twin-berth stateroom to port and another queen-berth stateroom at the bow, each with en suite bath. Although there is naturally less space here, there is no justification for any guest feeling slighted, because the high level of finish and outfitting is consistent with the larger staterooms. The guest foyer also houses a Whirlpool washer and dryer.


The Bravo 88’s crew have two cabins abaft the engine room, with a double berth to starboard and upper/lower singles to port. The crew cabins share a centerline head and shower, as well as a small crew mess and dinette. This area also provides a convenient entrance to the engine room, where the twin Caterpillars have excellent access all around.


Back on the main deck, the space forward of the dining area is shared by a lower helm and day-head to starboard, and a galley with raised L-shaped dinette to port. The galley, like so much else aboard the Bravo 88, is impressive for its level of finish and outfitting. The suite of GE Monogram stainless-steel appliances includes a large refrigerator/freezer unit, dishwasher, oven, microwave, four-burner range and trash compactor. There is a bilevel island at the center that serves admirably for both casual and formal occasions.


Adjacent to the day-head, an interior spiral stairway leads to the flying bridge, which can also be reached via a straight stair from the aft deck. Extended to cover the aft deck fully, the top deck is huge. There’s room for a tender, crane and hot tub aft, with space to spare. Under the fixed hardtop forward are the centerline helm with companion seat to port, an oversize L-shaped dinette abaft the companion seat and, to starboard, a fully equipped snack bar with three seats.


The hardtop, by the way, blends nicely with the remainder of the Bravo 88’s superstructure. Too often, such large tops look like afterthoughts, and unfortunately they are, marring an otherwise attractive profile. Not so here: Burvenich has achieved his goal of what will surely become a timeless look.


Burvenich and Cheoy Lee have also achieved their goal regarding performance at sea. During my time aboard, I didn’t have a lot of weather to contend with, but the behavior of the Bravo 88 was exemplary. I took the helm from Capt. Rawleigh Tremain for an extended period, running in a slight chop near the Gulf Stream off Fort Lauderdale, and the yacht handily answered every command. No problems at all, but then, I didn’t expect any from a yacht carrying such a pedigree.


If you’re looking for a cruising motor-yacht, the Bravo series should definitely be included on your short list of candidates. If you’re more of a sport yacht fan, have a look at Cheoy Lee’s Alpha series; for larger motoryachts, the Global series; for long-range displacement yachts, the Serenity series; and for round-the-world expeditions in unmatched style and ultimate single-engine economy, the Marco Polo series, of which Mazu is a part. And if you’re starting to think Cheoy Lee has something for everyone, join the club.


Speeds were measured by GPS in the Atlantic Ocean off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in one- to two-foot seas with no
wind and 30-foot water depth and with 50 percent fuel, 90 percent water and five people aboard. Fuel consumption was measured with the Caterpillar electronic engine-monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the lower helm with doors and windows closed. Specifications:
LOA: 88’11”
BEAM: 22’6″
DRAFT: 5’5″ (full load)
DISPL.: 175,000 lb. (full load)
FUEL: 3,000 gal.
WATER: 855 gal.
DEADRISE: 14 degrees
ENGINES (std.): 2 x 1,146 hp Caterpillar C18 ACERT diesels
ENGINES (tested): 2 x 1,700 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels
PRICE: Upon request
Cheoy Lee; 954-527-0999;

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