One of East Asia’s most innovative and adventurous yacht builders, Cheoy Lee Yachts has been owned and operated by the same family for generations. Established in Shanghai, the company moved to Hong Kong in the 1930s and currently builds a range of luxury yachts at a state-of-the-art 12 hectare shipyard in the heart of China’s Pearl River Delta. Cheoy Lee became a true industry pioneer in the use of fibreglass for the construction of yachts, and the vessels that it produces today are among the most cutting edge, stylish and luxurious yachts launched anywhere in the world.
The brainchild of the Lo family, Cheoy Lee was founded in Shanghai in 1870 to produce a range of boats and ships for local commercial operators. Some years later in 1936 the company relocated to British Hong Kong and began to manufacture sail powered cargo vessels, a line of work that continued all the way through World War II. Yet after the war had ended, and a new world of opportunity had opened up, Cheoy Lee decided to pivot towards the luxury yacht market, specialising in teak-framed sailing and motor yachts. Within a decade this line of work accounted for up to 90% of the firm’s revenue, and though the firm also constructs ferries and tugboats, to this day Cheoy Lee is first and foremost known as a builder of yachts.
It was in the late 1960s, however, that Cheoy Lee began to outstrip its competitors, becoming one of the first shipyards in the world to utilize GRP fiberglass and foam sandwich construction in its revolutionary yachts. By 1977, the company was building the world’s largest fiberglass vessels, such as the 130-foot motoryacht Shango II. A couple of years later and the world’s first all-foam-cored yacht, the Cheoy Lee 48’ Sport Yacht, was launched at the yard. Fast forward to the 1990s, and Cheoy Lee’s operations were so successful that an expansion was required. So the firm upped sticks from its old Penny Bay, Hong Kong yard and shifted their facility a few dozen miles away to Doumen, China, where today more than 800 professionals craft some of the world’s most advanced luxury yachts for the global market.
The consensus of industry insiders is that Cheoy Lee’s current Doumen shipyard is among the most impressive on the planet. The factory is one of the few in the world to specialize in steel, aluminum and composite construction, often combining these materials in their projects. Heavy duty equipment such as a 1,000 ton railway lift, 150-ton Travelift, dry docks and multiple fabrication halls complement precise engineering facilities such as 5-axis CNC cutters, NC water bath plasma cutters and Prop Scan systems to produce Cheoy Lee’s cutting edge semi-custom yachts.
Some of the company’s most celebrated yachts down the years have captured the hearts of owners and onlookers alike. Perhaps the most famous yacht to be completed by Cheoy Lee in recent years was the TransOcean Explorer Marco Polo, a 147-foot steel vessel that realized the firm’s ambition to combine Asian engineering standards with European style and luxury. Designed by Kasia Milewska and Ron Holland Design, and boasting KCA interiors, the yacht was crowned the winner of the 2008 ShowBoats International “Best New Series over 40 meters”. Cheoy Lee’s latest venture in yacht building is an exciting collaboration with American naval architect Jon Overing to produce a new line of Explorer yachts ranging from 107 to 132 feet in length. Built of composite steel and aluminum, these yachts are designed with a deeper draft, free flowing corridor space from bow to stern, a multi-tiered deck system with expansive leisure space and all-weather cruising.
Cheoy Lee 118 Tradition
Sleek and bold, this ergonomic 118-foot-long yacht is built to maximize interior space across its three deck spaces so that buyers can customize to their heart’s content. Boasting naval architecture from Overing Yacht Designs and interior finishes from Westhoff Interiors, the yacht’s impressive aerodynamic design is one of the most iconic that Cheoy Lee has on offer. Downstairs state rooms accommodate up to 10 guests, while separate sleeping quarters have space for a crew of 8. Powered by dual CAT C32 engines for a top speed of 26 knots and an extensive cruising range, the yacht also benefits from TRAC STAR of Seakeeper stabilization systems for a smooth ride.
Cheoy Lee 126 Explorer
A robust hull designed to withstand the fiercest of oceans makes the Cheoy Lee 126 Explorer the ideal yacht for nautical explorers who wish to follow in the footsteps of history’s greatest navigators. 126 feet in length, with a beam of 26 feet and a maximum occupancy of 18 guests and crew, this impressive yacht can take you from continent to continent, as well as from island to island. Large enough to store a range of water toys including jet skis, tenders and dinghies, and appointed with custom-designed Westhoff Interiors across five levels, this yacht is just as suited for entertaining and relaxation as it is for serious voyaging.
Cheoy Lee Dorothea III
Built in 2007 for a private client, the 147-foot-long Dorothea is a superb example of the kind of exquisite finishes and lavish designs that a Cheong Lee semi-custom yacht has to offer. Designed in collaboration with Ron Holland and KCA International, interior décor possesses a subdued Oriental appeal, with Makassar ebony and walnut flooring, cream inset sofas, veined marble counter-tops and a spacious bar and dining space. Three plush staterooms and two cabins plus space for crew, a dramatic skybridge and two capacious teak aft decks round out this superb yacht’s roomy offering. A superb 1950 HP CAT engine delivers a top speed of 13 knots while a cruising range of 6000 miles offers unlimited possibilities for Trans-Atlantic travel.
Cheoy Lee 50 Sportfisherman
Along with Cheoy Lee’s contemporary range of luxury yachts, the firm has in the past produced smaller sporting yachts for fishing and leisure enthusiasts. The Cheoy Lee 50 Sportfisherman is one such example, produced from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. This yacht measures almost 51 feet in length and features a tournament style raised flybridge and spacious aft deck with plenty of storage and space to unspool those fishing lines. Three lower staterooms and all the necessary amenities for overnight trips make this yacht a great option for longer, multi-day trips to the world’s most well-stocked fishing grounds. A hull and superstructure built with Airex coring, and a total displacement weight of only 36,000 pounds means this yacht is superbly lightweight yet reassuringly durable. Zipping along at a top speeds of around 30 knots, dedicated fishers and anglers will be delighted with this practical and nimble vessel.