CL Yachts unveiled its pioneering flagship CLX96 in Hong Kong, where the Jozeph Forakis creation showed off its remarkable mix of inventive design and sturdy, working-boat heritage.
Words: Guy Nowell. Photos: CL Yachts / Lightseed Studio.
CLX96 can top 25 knots at full load
YACHT STYLE was invited to view the revolutionary CLX96 in Hong Kong, where company principals showed off the superyacht soon after its launch from the shipyard and before its journey to the US for her world premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in Florida.
“We recognised the need for a new category of yacht, designed to appeal to a new generation yet built to the uncompromising standards of our experienced owners. We call it a luxury performance Sea Activity Vessel, or SAV,” said Martin Lo, Director of CL Yachts, who spoke earlier in the year to YACHT STYLE about the evolution of the CLX96 design (click for interview).
Note the reverse-angle windscreens and plumb bow
The designer for both interior and exterior is Milan-based Jozeph Forakis, who brought to the project an entirely fresh approach, uncluttered by preconceptions, while Americans Earl Alfaro and Albert Horsmon handled naval architecture and structural engineering respectively.
Even before you step on board the yacht, there’s a strong impression of practicality, encased in a stylish profile. The reverse angles on the superstructure are practical in reducing internal heating and reflections yet are also a nod to CL Yachts’ expertise and relentless innovation in yacht building.
The spacious aft cockpit leads into the saloon
The plumb bow is an efficient use of waterline length to generate interior volume, but also reduces pitching, and the combined effect is of a no-nonsense vessel that can take you anywhere in the world and is ready to start 30 minutes from now. So, let’s go!
INTERIOR WITH A DIFFERENCE
Step on board straight into the aft cockpit, and a visitor is going to look straight through the internal social area and see that this boat is almost transparent. Indeed, from the cockpit through to the bow is one clear, uninterrupted line of sight.
The main-deck interior offers a clear view all the way forward
Forakis is extremely proud of this key design note. Many attempts have been made to ‘bring the outdoors in’, but few have succeeded so well. The main deck is a one-piece experience, giving an impression of a great deal more than 96ft of boat under your feet.
The interior begins with a lounge area, segues into the formal dining, passes seamlessly through the galley and bar, and concludes with the Champagne Lounge, before passageways outside lead to the circular-themed Piazza del Sole, otherwise known as the foredeck.
Aft view of the dining area and saloon
The divisions between each area are all the same height, giving the effect of one uninterrupted space, enhanced by the enormous side windows (truly floor to ceiling), opening three-panel glass doors on either side of the saloon, and the reverse-angle windshield forward.
A steeply raked window here would be pretty much standard, but would also project wasted space below it, and act as a sun trap – not so welcome in the tropics.
The Champagne Lounge uses space typically used by a helm station
You won’t see any clunky air conditioning cabinets in this indoor space, as the vents have been cleverly and elegantly incorporated into the window mullions, which are also a structural feature of the vessel.
PIAZZA AND TERRAZZA
There’s a watertight door forward and to starboard of the galley that provides easy access from the galley to the Piazza del Sole, which offers variable configuration seating and sunpads. It’s the perfect spot for ‘something cold’ before an alfresco lunch.
The Terrazza Portoghese and Piazza del Sole outdoor areas
It’s an elegantly presented space, and the plumb bow allows all the anchoring, windlass and line-handling equipment to be pushed forward and entirely out of the way. It is, indeed, efficient design.
Staying outdoors and returning to the stern, CLX96 incorporates a huge beach club deck that doubles as tender storage.
The enormous swim platform includes a Z-lift
The area also includes an ingenious hydraulic Z-lift system that can position a section of the aft deck above or below water with steps either up or down, becoming either a boarding platform when moored stern-to or a boat lift when completely lowered.
On the flybridge, you’ll find an impressively large Sky Deck with fixed and flexible seating, dining table, grill and bar facilities. With three large, electrically operated windows (port, starboard and aft) the Sky Lounge can convert from fully open-air to fully enclosed and weather-tight, so allowing the yacht’s single helm station to be located here and free up even more space on the main deck.
The Sky Deck includes the indoor Sky Lounge and sole helm station
But wait! There’s yet another social space, forward of the Sky Lounge. Called the Terrazza Portoghese, it’s named for its proximity to the forward-sloping windows of the helm station, shaded by the overhang of the Portuguese bridge. More flexible seating here invites guests to watch the sun go down, with a glass in hand, and the prospect of a quiet night in a secluded anchorage.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Speaking of which, CLX96 offers four en-suite cabins on the lower deck. Forward, at the yacht’s widest part, the full-beam owner’s stateroom has a huge skylight directly over the king-size bed and a 65in TV that connects to an external bow camera, so you can lie in bed and see where you’re going.
Located forward, the master suite has a king-size bed under a huge skylight
The VIP cabin midships is also full beam and has a virtual skylight with a ceiling-embedded screen connected to an external camera pointing to the sky. In fact, the VIP could easily be mistaken for a master on any other boat, while two doubles (or twins – they convert) complete the set.
Forakis is an accomplished interior designer. In common with the public areas on the main deck, the décor of the accommodation area is calm, restrained, immensely tasteful and absolutely first class. Every cabin or suite sports vast amounts of storage space. Ladies, take note. Feel free to bring extra swimsuits and more floaty dresses.
The full-beam VIP suite midships features a virtual skylight
CL Yachts has sold models into Asia, although its primary market is North America and it’s evident in the design of CLX96. Side decks, gangways, stairways and even the space between internal units are just that little bit wider, making moving around the boat easy and comfortable. And of course, the galley fridge is oversized and then some!
CLX96 is either a ‘bold departure’ from previous CL Yachts models or a ‘brave new start’ in a radically different direction: take your pick.
The widest part of the hull is forward
The important thing is that CL Yachts have presented an edgy but elegant yacht to appeal to a new generation of owners, but steeped in its parent company’s reputation for strong, seaworthy design, and quality engineering and construction.