CL Yachts pushes envelope with CLX96
The Hong Kong-headquartered builder is scheduled to launch the Jozeph Forakis-designed Sea Activity Vessel (SAV) in the third quarter of 2021.
CL Yachts is aiming to “push the envelope of boatbuilding” with its upcoming CLX96, which will be the builder’s new flagship when the 27-knot planing yacht is launched ahead of its scheduled world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in late October 2021.
Jozeph Forakis has been working on the design of the 96ft motor yacht since 2017 when the Milan-based designer was also hired to design the logo, branding guidelines and website for CL Yachts, the new luxury yacht brand by Cheoy Lee.
Hans Lo, Deputy Director of CL Yachts, said: “We chose Jozeph because he’s an industrial designer, so he looks at how and why a yacht will be used, then designs the whole boat holistically. We’re trying to push the envelope of boat building and give the market a boat that truly does it all. Much like an SUV, CLX96 is a yacht that is ready for any adventure.”
While Forakis is responsible for the concept and exterior and interior design, Americans Earl Alfaro and Albert Horsmon handled naval architecture and structural engineering respectively.
The sky deck has an outdoor grill, refrigerator and ice-maker, plus an alfresco dining area
CL Yachts has called the CLX96 the first luxury performance SAV (Sea Activity Vessel), with a ‘workboat chic’ profile defined by trawler-style, reverse-angle windscreens, a nod to the commercial heritage of parent company Cheoy Lee. On the main deck, the reverse-angle windscreen has even been mirrored by the aft superstructure in a rarely seen design feature.
Forakis said: “Three years ago, CL Yachts reached beyond the industry and asked me to rethink yacht design. I approached the project with a focus on smart design and my outsider’s imagination and dreams. The result is a vessel that is a departure from convention.
The skylounge has opening windows and a twin-seat pilothouse
“Visually, CLX96 is very distinctive with her bold ‘double reverse-angle’ profile and iconic ‘wing-like’ flybridge bulwark. These elements were born from a holistic, functional reconsideration of the way to live on a yacht and not just for the sake of looking different.”
Other distinctive features include a vertical bow and a teardrop-shaped hull, with the forward part of the boat being wider than the aft. Eye-catching exterior spaces include the foredecks on both the main and upper decks, known as Terrazza Portoghese and Piazza del Sole respectively.
The huge flybridge reaches back almost as far as the main deck and features a big outdoor sky deck that connects to the interior sky lounge featuring the yacht’s sole pilothouse with twin helm chairs, lounge seating and opening windows on each side. Forward of this is the Terrazza Portoghese, a large outdoor area that can be dressed with loose furniture like sunbeds.
Forakis said: “CLX96 was created to push the boundaries of innovation and yachting experiences, with flowing indoor and outdoor spaces.”
The circular-themed Piazza del Sole on the main deck is arguably the yacht’s signature outdoor space. Two large sunpads on each side can transform into sofas due to pop-up backrests, linking with the semi-circular, forward-facing sofa to create a circular ‘aperitif lounge’.
The tables can be raised or lowered and covered with sunpads to large lounging areas, with adjustable, slanting backrests by the bulwarks.
The Z-Lift swim platform extends the length of the boat to 105ft
At the other end of the boat, a huge swim platform can carry a tender or jetski, which can be deployed by a motorised Z-Lift swim platform, which further extends the living area so the boat stretches to 105ft in length. Storage for furniture and toys is inside the transom, through doors on either side of the full-height door to the engine room.
The yacht’s interior also has several innovative features including a main deck with two lounges and clear 360-degree views including through to the forward windows. The interior starts with the main living area, which leads to a long dining table that can benefit from clear views and a sea breeze through bi-fold doors to starboard.
There’s an open galley with bar to port, while starboard is an enormous fridge, storage and the interior stairs to the flybridge. Further forward – in the absence of a main-deck helm – is a slightly raised lounge, ideal for cosy, intimate gatherings, while to starboard are stairs to the lower-deck.
CL Yachts focuses a lot on a boat as a vessel for exploration and some of the furniture and décor in the four lower-deck guest cabins “are designed to remind you of being on a journey, much like a spacecraft,” as Lo says.
The open galley with bar is a likely focal point of on-board living
Due to the teardrop shape of the hull, the master is forward and benefits from being in the widest part of the boat, over 24ft (7.3m). It has a large forward-facing bed under a big skylight, a huge TV, expansive windows and a full-width dressing room and bathroom in the bow, with glass doors and windows that can be tinted.
A central hallway leads to the two guest cabins, which have aft-facing single beds that can slide together to become a double.
Further aft down the hallway, the full-beam VIP stateroom has a forward-facing double and a portside bathroom with a huge window and slatted doors. There’s even a clever virtual skylight, using technology that senses the colour and brightness of the sky.
The master stateroom is forward, at the widest part of the yacht
Much of the furniture is moulded and the desk-cum-sofas under the hull windows show Forakis’ flowing, industrial design at its best. Furthermore, there’s even a camera at the bow that can be relayed to the TVs – as on aeroplanes – so owners and guests can always tune in to see where they’re going and what lies ahead.
“CLX 96 is focused on the value of exploration and the journey of life,” Lo says. “We want owners and guests to feel like they’re in a vessel, they’re going on a journey. We’re trying to bring back the romance of being at sea, of exploration. After all, this is more about the experience the vessel provides you, not just about the vessel itself.”
Performance and seaworthiness are always a priority for CL Yachts, which uses carbon-fibre and fibreglass for strength and to reduce weight, along with weight-optimised stonework and furniture inside. Stone surfaces are thinned and then backed by rigid composite materials, while Tricel honeycomb is used in furniture to reduce weight by 20 per cent compared to solid wood or plywood.
The crew quarters are accessed by stairs leading down from the cockpit, underneath the exterior flybridge stairs. Situated aft of the VIP stateroom, the crew area includes two cabins and has access to the engine room, which includes the twin CAT C32 1,900hp engines that can power the boat to 27 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots at 2,000rpm, impressive figures for an almost 97ft yacht.
CL Yachts, which has its headquarters in Hong Kong, plans to launch the first unit in its Guangdong shipyard by June 2021.
Martin Lo, Director of CL Yachts and Hans’ uncle, concludes: “Before we began designing CLX96, we looked at the yachting experience with fresh eyes from the inside out, analysing everything from the habits of modern explorers at sea to our own heritage as a company.
“This allowed us to approach the design in a truly holistic way – deconstructing the traditional motor yacht as we know it and putting it back together again. The result is the true representation of CL Yachts both today and in the future.”
The much-anticipated CLB88, the second model in the CLB series by Hong Kong-headquartered CL Yachts, debuted in August after production of the first hull remained almost on schedule despite Covid-19. The motor yacht was temporarily berthed at the company's office and service yard in Hong Kong, having been built at its production shipyard west of Zhuhai, a city now connected by bridge to Hong Kong.