Photography by Jim Raycroft
With the Bravo 72, Cheoy Lee is kicking things up a notch by incorporating IPS propulsion.
When approaching a new boat to review, I’ll often try to focus on the features that distinguish the model from its competitors. Inspecting the Cheoy Lee Bravo 72 dockside, I noticed it showcases a traditional look that separates it from the swooping, Euro-styled vessels that swim in a sea of familiarity. As I studied the Bravo’s sheer and shape it reminded me of why people always pause to stare at a big mako shark at the scale. Like a mako, this yacht was designed for traveling the seas. Its shippy profile blends bluewater readiness with ease of operation and a list of intelligent onboard systems that are in demand by today’s owners.
Over its more than 100 years, Cheoy Lee has produced an ocean-deep catalog of commercial and recreational vessels. Naval architect Howard Apollonio raises the bar with the Bravo 72 as he has designed a motoryacht powered by Volvo Penta IPS propulsion that is an owner-operator’s dream in terms of performance, engineering, and accommodations. The thoroughness of execution on this family-friendly design is apparent the moment you step aboard the teak-planked swim platform, which doubles as a hydraulic lift for a 1,000-pound tender, as well as access to the engine room and crew’s quarters. Launch the tender and you have an intimate beach at your disposal, with a convenient hot and cold shower and an optional carbon-fiber-supported sun shade. Wide, teak-planked molded staircases to the aft deck are complemented with step lights, locking gates, and polished stainless steel grabrails that add style to seagoing safety. The teak-planked aft deck is protected from sun and spray by an extended fiberglass overhang. Features include a comfortable settee, fiberglass dining table, and wet bar; there are concealed joystick docking controls to port; starboard controls can be ordered, too.
Access to the saloon is through a polished stainless steel framed sliding glass door that’s easy and safe to operate with one hand. The interior by stylist Sylvia Bolton is inviting, and made more enticing by the large, tinted saloon windows, which bring in plenty of light so guests can appreciate her decorative touches. While the saloon is open from the aft-deck entrance to the lower helm station with satin-finished wenge wood flooring, the interior is tastefully compartmentalized for socializing. A relaxed and casual atmosphere is created with an L-shaped sofa, an occasional chair, and cocktail and end tables, and a 48-inch television that rises from walnut joinery with a high-gloss finish.
An open galley can be used for both sit-down meals and snacks. Appliances by Bosch, Sub-Zero, and GE augment Cheoy Lee’s commitment to accessorize the yacht with premium brands appreciated by American consumers. A galley island adds more conveniences—with accessible electrical distribution panels and more stowage, for example—while a glass table with L-shaped seating provides a second dining option. The working galley and forward dining area are equally proportioned, providing an enormous amount of usable space with great flow when a crowd is aboard. Nearby, the day head is big, naturally lit with a tinted window and accented with a stone countertop, backsplash, and sink.
The pilothouse helm is a few degrees to starboard and equipped with a Stidd pedestal chair, a raised bank of navigation and Volvo engine instrumentation with LED screens and gauges, single-lever and joystick controls, and a polished stainless steel wheel. I liked the sightlines from the lower helm; there’s an all-weather view forward, as well as good sightlines aft, and a clear shot to the starboard transom corner. However, when operating from this location, guests moving forward to the sunpad lounge area will need to be coached on not interfering with the skipper’s view when under way. A fiberglass pantograph door opens to the 19-inch-wide starboard side deck with a molded nonskid sole. Fiberglass bulwarks and a stainless steel rail combine to provide 37 inches of walkaround security, for which I commend Cheoy Lee for including in the design parameters.
A starboard staircase leads to the lower accommodations. Once again, I was impressed with the attention Cheoy Lee gave to safety with wide steps and a railing. The four-stateroom, three-head layout includes a queen berth forward in the VIP, side-by-side berths in the port stateroom, and upper-lower berths to starboard. Each stateroom is well-appointed, and guests will appreciate the privacy and amenities, including cedar-lined wardrobes, reading lights, and television. The full-beam master is impressive with a king-size walkaround berth, a 40-inch flat-screen television, sofa, tinted hullside windows, a cedar-lined walk-in locker, and an escape hatch to the crew’s quarters aft, which in turn leads to the engine room and topside exit on the port side of the deckhouse. The master head is noteworthy, with sliding doors that close off the area to the stateroom. However, when the doors are open all that is visible are the starboard hullside window and the twin sinks on a stone counter over the walnut vanity. The MSD and the large fiberglass shower stall are in closed compartments fore and aft.
Similar attentiveness is revealed on the flybridge that’s accessed from the aft deck via a teak-planked fiberglass staircase framed with a railing and gate. The helm is forward on centerline with superb visibility and the fiberglass dash accommodates the electronic engine controls, gauges and communication and navigation electronics. The standard equipment list is substantial and includes a pair of Stidd helm seats and a fiberglass hardtop. Abaft the helm area is party central and the third dining area on board, along with a grill, refrigerator, ice maker, a fiberglass table, ample seating, and sunpads.
Gallery: Cheoy Lee Bravo 72
Even if this boat never left the dock it would still be a hit given its plentiful creature comforts. But under way it instantly impresses with enticing performance, thanks to the twin Volvo Penta IPS1050 power package. I ran the boat through some chunky seas off Ft. Lauderdale, and was able to get a feel for the in-line-six D13 diesels cranking out 800 horsepower each with dual-stage turbochargers. The articulating pods utilized every pony in the stable on our sea trial to deliver a top speed of just over 27 knots with a full load of fuel. This is a smooth operator: Vibration, propeller cavitation, and tip burning are nonexistent. Cheoy Lee even coats the three- and four-bladed props with Prop Speed to further enhance overall performance. Engine exhaust is buried underwater to reduce emissions and keep the transom and aft deck clean. The response at the helm is quick and smooth, with no in-gear lurching or transom dipping, and the steering can be done with a finger. Running angles are modest at every rpm.
Another benefit of the IPS propulsion aboard this boat is that it negates the need for a bow thruster because the joystick controls facilitate docking and other tight maneuvering against wind and current. This IPS system is Volvo’s third generation, with a lot of benefits for the owner-operator, which is what the Bravo 72 is all about. Maintenance requirements are routine and the pods only require a filter and oil change every second year or 400 hours. Because Volvo provides the power package that includes engine, drive system, propellers, controls, and other mechanical components, service usually requires only a single phone call.
While the test boat was an excellent example of performance and efficiency, Volvo Penta IPS1200 and IPS1350 packages also are offered, so if you want more speed it is available (at an estimated 29 knots and 32 knots respectfully). The boat has already satisfied Volvo’s requirements for the larger systems in its robust resin-infused hull, which features a double bottom with integral fiberglass fuel, water, and waste tanks, and composite-cored hull, deck, and superstructure.
Modern yachts can be complicated with sophisticated systems that require a fair amount of attention and maintenance, but the Bravo 72 simplifies the process and emphasizes convenience. The beautiful engine room is a fine example of this, with practically 7 feet of headroom and clear paths to every piece of machinery, including a pair of 32-kilowatt Kohler generators with sound shields and a Decision-Maker 3500 parallel controller, which automatically turns on the second unit well before lights start dimming or electrical accessories start gasping for more juice. A Reverso fuel-polishing system, ABT-TRAC zero-speed stabilizers, a Delta-T ventilation and demister system, dual Racor fuel-water separators, labeled through-hulls and other fittings are among the standouts in this snow-white area. Other areas are preplumbed and designed to accommodate accessories like a desalinator, ice chipper, or gyro stabilizer.
The Bravo 72 is built for fun on the water, whether a yacht owner is moving up or down in size. It’s a nice-looking boat with impressive fit and finish, and efficient and comfortable performance. Cheoy Lee performed its due diligence with the development and build, and you will likely feel it the moment you step aboard.
Test Conditions: Air temperature: 80° F; humidity: 80%; seas: 1-2'; wind: 10 knots
Load: 1,000 gal. fuel, 200 gal. water, 7 persons.
Cheoy Lee Bravo 72 - Final Boat Test Numbers:
Speeds are two-way averages measured with GPS display; GPH estimates from Volvo Penta monitoring system. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the lower helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.
Displ.: 94,000 lb.
Fuel: 1,060 gal.
Water: 280 gal.
Test Power: 2/800-hp Volvo Penta IPS 1050
Optional Power: 2/1,136-hp Caterpillar C-18
Transmission: IPS 3; 1.99:1 gear ratio
Warranty: 10-year structural
Base Price: $3.85 million
Noteworthy Options: ABT-TRAC zero-speed hydraulic stabilizer package ($88,000); canvas package including exterior mesh covers ($7,800); flybridge grill package and custom cabinetry ($8,600); aft deck bar, refrigeration, ice maker ($16,500); Reverso fuel-polishing system ($4,200); sun shades with carbon fiber support poles for flybridge, foredeck and swim deck ($18,500); V-Kool VK 70 tinted main deck windows ($4,700)
Cheoy Lee Bravo 72 Layout Diagrams
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.