Experience often has a direct relationship to success; the more of it you have, the more likely you are to perform well. And nowhere is this truer than in boatbuilding.
If I had any doubt of that, it disappeared the moment I stepped aboard the 100 Sport Cockpit Motoryacht during last year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The 100 highlights not only Cheoy Lee’s 135 years of building commercial vessels and yachts, but also the benefits of being a fully custom builder in a size range where many others have gone to semi- or full production.
The reason for this strategy, says B.Y. Lo, Cheoy Lee director and one of the brothers that owns the fourth-generation company, is simply that the yard wants to give owners exactly what they want. So each boat, including every aspect of design, engineering, and construction, is considered on an individual basis, thereby making every Cheoy Lee a true one-off. In the case of the 100, the Chinese-American owner, who lives in San Francisco and owns several commercial-lighting factories in China, ordered the yacht—his first-ever Cheoy Lee—a little more than two years ago. Having owned many boats of various sizes, he chose Cheoy Lee because of the builder’s track record of delivering vessels with advanced technology and performance, according to Cheoy Lee’s Trey Beasley, who worked closely with the owner.
But even before construction began, the owner gave Cheoy Lee a wish list of the things he wanted to incorporate on his yacht, using the Cheoy Lee 95 Motoryacht that launched in 2005 as a jumping-off point. Since he intended to cruise the West Coast and British Columbia with his family and to entertain onboard, he wanted an extended cockpit with livewells and rod holders for fishing; a second, aft-deck day head; an extended bridge that would accommodate a tender lengthwise; a shore-power converter for cruising outside U.S. waters; professional-grade appliances; plus granite soles, countertops, and in the five heads onboard, granite walls.
The large amount of granite was of particular concern for the builder, since its weight could reduce performance. To combat this problem, Cheoy Lee sliced each slab of granite to half its thickness, then backed it with aluminum to maintain strength. The results speak for themselves: At half load the 100 hits 27 knots, which Beasley says makes this Cheoy Lee a better-performing yacht than vessels of similar displacement in this size range.
At first glance, the 100 looks to be a carbon copy of the 95 Motoryacht, which marked a new direction for Cheoy Lee: She was the first Cheoy Lee designed exclusively by naval architect M.G. Burvenich, who had worked on previous Cheoy Lee builds as a member of Tom Fexas Yacht Design. What makes the 100 different is her five-foot-long cockpit, which brings her LOA to a slightly longer 103 feet. Burvenich touches are evident in the 100’s exterior, which lacks the traditional Fexas sheerline and instead features upswept bulwarks surrounding the foredeck. But what really warrant attention are the interior design elements like the split-level owner’s suite forward on the main deck, the enclosed flying bridge with space between the saloon and flying-bridge level that creates a casual lounging area, and the formal saloon on the main-deck level.
On the other hand, no area onboard the 100 better highlights Cheoy Lee’s commercial heritage than the engine room. “Every prospect I bring into the engine room just immediately says, ‘wow.’ I sit and wait to hear it,
But one of the elements that Cheoy Lee is most proud of, and that Beasley feels highlights one of the many benefits of custom construction, is the owner-requested, aft-deck day head. Since the 100 has a cockpit, Cheoy Lee was able to eliminate the 95’s on-deck staircase down to the crew quarters and engine room, freeing up space for the extra head. The day head even has a shower, ideal for washing off after an afternoon at the beach or a dunk in the water.
This owner truly got everything he wanted, but as luck would have it, he won’t get much of a chance to enjoy the yacht he put so much thought into. His expanding business in Hong Kong has apparently taken up so much of his time that he decided instead to sell the 100, which was delivered to its new owner in early December. But that’s not the end of boating for him. He has plans to build another custom Cheoy Lee, a 125-footer with a ten-foot cockpit.
Just imagine the possibilities.
This article originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.