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Cheoy Lee Yachts
Operating shipyards in Doumen in Southern China and also on the Howloon Peninsula in Hong Kong, family owned Cheoy Lee builds luxury yachts and superyachts to 46 meters in length.
Cheoy Lee Yachts History
Cheoy Lee’s origins began in a Shanghai shipyard that opened in 1870 to build and repair steam-powered vessels. Since that time the company has launched more than 5,200 vessels, 65 percent of them more than 33 metres. In 1936, the founding Lo family (the fourth generation still operates Cheoy Lee today) moved the shipyard to Hong Kong, then a British colony, building power cargo vessels designed to outrun the Japanese blockade. By the mid-1950s, the shipyard branched out into the construction of teak sailing and motor yachts, designed by notable naval architects including Bill Luders, David Pedrick, Robert Perry, Jack Hargrave and Tom Fexas. After hundreds of sailing yachts, ultimately, luxury motor yachts became about 90 percent of its private yacht output and the company stopped building sailboats in 1990. The shipyard has continued to build large commercial vessels and passenger ferries to the present day.
Throughout the 1960s and ’70s Cheoy Lee pioneered the use of GRP construction technology, launching the 39.62 metre motor sailer Shango II (now Nataly) – the largest composite yacht of its time – in 1977. Two years later came the introduction of the Cheoy Lee 48-foot Sport Yacht, the first all-foam-cored production yacht.
In 1999, to make room for Disney Land China, Cheoy Lee sold its shipyard to the Hong Kong government and opened a new yard on the Pearl River. Today, just the headquarters office and a small service facility remain in Hong Kong. All Cheoy Lee yacht and vessel construction takes place at its Hin Lee (Zhuhai) Shipyard facility, situated around 45 miles to the west of Hong Kong. Approximately 1,000 employees work at this 65,000 square metre site which also builds commercial vessels such as the brand’s famous tug boats. This facility gives the company the capability to produce luxury yachts and ships up to 60 metres in length.
In 2021, Cheoy Lee returned to its roots with the introduction of a new series of explorer yachts in four lengths –107, 126, 130 and 132 feet
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Notable Cheoy Lee Superyachts
Although he had designed 80 and 90 footers for Cheoy Lee, in 1989 Cheoy Lee delivered Ivory Lady, the first of a series of 33-metre (103-foot) motor yachts designed by Jack Hargrave to its US dealer Rex Yacht Sales in Fort Lauderdale. This was a large volume yacht with five staterooms and a luxury interior by Susan Puleo and worthy of the term superyacht.
Seashaw (now Island Heiress) ushered in Cheoy Lee’s Global Motor Yacht Series in 1996. Designed by Frank Mulder, the trideck yacht measured 44 metres (145 feet).
A 38 metre (125 foot) named Janet (now Nicole Evelyn) was the first yacht launched in 2003 at the Pearl River facility after Cheoy Lee relocated to mainland China. Closely on her heels was the second Seashaw for her repeat owner, this one 52 metres (172 feet) with opulent interior design by Dee Robinson.
In 2007, Cheoy Lee delivered the 44.8 metre oceangoing Explorer Yacht Marco Polo, now Dorothea III. Designed by Ron Holland, she features an innovative power package – a single Caterpillar diesel engine paired with a Schottel vectoring bow thruster. The fuel-efficient superyachts’ maximum speed is 14.5 knots, and she offers an impressive range of 6,000 nautical miles at 10.5 knots. Mazu, now Qing, the second yacht in the series, launched in 2010 with a custom interior design.
Cheoy Lee revised its series line-up in 2020 with semi-custom yachts under the CL banner. The first of these is a 72 footer followed by the CL88B bridge-deck motor yacht that debuted in October 2020, followed by a 118 foot tri-deck, both designed specifically for the US market with 20-knot speed and Bahamas-friendly draft.
A versatile builder, Cheoy Lee offers several semi-custom luxury yacht series, including its current CL Series, Alpha performance yacht range, Bravo raised pilothouse motor yacht range, and the Explorer superyacht series. The shipyard is unusual in that it specialises in steel, aluminium and composite construction, as wells as utilizing combinations of these materials. Known as one of Asia’s best equipped yacht building yards, the operation includes multi-axis CNC machines, plasma cutter, waterjet cutters, fabrication and painting sheds and much more.