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Route 66: Inside the 20.61m CNB 66 semi-custom series

Route 66: Inside the 20.61m CNB 66 semi-custom series

Want a family cruiser for sailing short-handed but with superyacht style? Don’t let the CNB 66 semi-custom series pass you by, advisesClare Mahon...

While some may think that moving from making some of the world’s most admired superyachts to producing series builds is a step down, Olivier Lafourcade, co-founder and director of CNB, thinks differently. “We saw that we could provide a better product for our owners if we moved to semi-custom,” he says. “Combining our one-off experience with an industrial approach takes nothing off our standards and adds dependability. It allows us to offer luxury at a reasonable price.”

CNB had built 15 custom projects with sailing superyacht veteran Philippe Briand before it turned to him for the design of its semi-custom series – and Lafourcade has never looked back: “Custom builds are a new adventure every time,” he says, “but when we commission a series project we can take the time to target a market and fine tune. We conceived the CNB 66 as a luxury cruiser for families who sail short-handed but may want to race in a regatta or take off across the ocean one day. We spent three years pre-production with Briand and the interior designers Jean-Marc Piaton and Rafael Bonet going over every design aspect and solving any potential problems.”

Briand’s superyacht touch is evident from the 20.61 metre yacht’s distinctive coachroof: an eyebrow-like overhang above vertical wraparound windows gives the yacht an air of gruff honesty that suddenly makes years of low-slung curves seem passé. The yacht’s vertical lines, hard aft chine and wide beam all say “action”.

The deck has dual helm stations with carbon wheels flanked by seats that are ideal for visibility and comfort. Raymarine sail control pads are close by, as are winches for the mainsheet and headsails. All headsails are on furlers and the mainsail furls in-boom. The teak and light caulk deck is all on one level, making fore-to-aft passage easy and safe. The foredeck is uncluttered, with flush hatches and integrated tracks. Even the grab rails are integrated and moulded into the coachroof.

While all of these features will make the serious sailor happy, those who want to sit back and relax are well provided for, too. The guest cockpit is completely free of equipment and is very safe when the boat is under sail. The companionway entrance is set slightly off-centre, making space for built-in L-shaped seating around a table and a long sofa. The table can fold out and adjust in height to become a dais for a sunpad.

The saloon is airy thanks to Briand’s panoramic coachroof windows and Piaton and Bonet’s light, contemporary furnishings. The same slightly asymmetrical layout used on deck is repeated, which makes space for a dining area to port and a lounging area to starboard. Comfortable seating has views through the hull windows and furnishings convert several ways to multi-task. Leather detailing on grab bars is a luxurious touch and LED lighting is indirect and discreet.

The engine room is under the saloon sole and systems such as the air conditioning can be easily accessed behind the furnishings. The galley is a couple of steps down and open to the saloon so that the chef can socialise. Extra headroom is provided by the hollow centre of the built-in sofa directly above. A hatch concealed under the sofa cushions can be used to pass food and drink up to the deck.

An en suite crew cabin has a double bed that can adjust in height to be used as two twins. Even if the crew is not on “in-the-same-bed” terms they had better be friendly because the only access to the side berth is by climbing over the central one, a slightly strange arrangement but one that can be negotiated.

The full-beam master cabin is forward and has plenty of storage and even space for an office area. The height of the double bed in the guest cabin can be staggered to become two twins and there is also a Pullman cabin. All are en suite and make use of the same materials, colour tones and level of design for a unified, harmonious feel.

The CNB 66 was designed for short-handed family sailing and lives up to the promise; a couple can easily raise the sails themselves. Once under sail the yacht feels strong and seaworthy, powerfully swift yet stable when heeled on to the chine. The dual rudders are light and nicely balanced. Back in port, bow and stern thrusters with joystick steering make manoeuvring easy.

Not only is the CNB 66 fast under sail, she’s also fast out of the build shed. CNB shipyard rep Christophe Harvey says: “We infuse the hulls in one piece while the interiors are built to exact tolerance and assembled in modules. By constructing the hull and interior simultaneously we reduce build time and cost.”

Build time will not be a problem for owners, but popularity might: while CNB can get almost a yacht per month out of the sheds, there is already a waiting list until April 2019. Move quickly or the kids will be grown before you get your family out on one.

All images courtesy of Nicolas Claris

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