February 2nd 2012. By Jeanne Craig.

Cheoy Lee 76 Alpha Express: Life in the Fast Lane

Meet a fast and contemporary yacht with global appeal.

Life in the slow lane is only good for so long, or so it seems at Cheoy Lee, one of Hong Kong’s biggest and oldest names in recreational and commercial yacht building. In recent years, this company devoted its manufacturing know-how to the construction of two long-range exploration superyachts and its Serenity series of displacement trawlers. But having proven its expertise for owners who value the oh-so-long haul, Cheoy Lee is now throttling up into new cruising territory. The 76 Alpha is the builder’s first express-style motoryacht, and it features all the performance, pizzazz, style, and swoosh of a luxury cruiser built to thrill.

The stylish Cheoy Lee 76 Alpha Express is powered by twin 1,550-hp MAN V-12 diesels. Top speeds will touch 40 knots.

There’s a good deal of competition in this field, but Cheoy Lee positions itself as a worthy challenger with its game face on. For starters, the builder assembled an expert team to conceptualize and execute the build.

Michael Peters Yacht Design was brought in to do the hull and fine-tune the yacht’s performance. That was a strong choice, given the fact that the award-winning firm has more than a few fast-paced megayachts and sportboats to its credit, and a resume punctuated by thirteen Offshore Racing World Championships. The 76 Alpha is based on a moderate-V planing form that should deliver speeds near 40 knots with standard 1,550-hp MAN V-12 diesels and ZF pod drives. Convex forward sections are sculpted to absorb shock, and they make for a dry ride when running from one fabulous international port to the next.

The yacht’s creative team also includes Luiz de Basto Designs of Miami. Mr. de Basto has been dreaming up innovative yacht interiors for over 20 years and has worked with many of the major yards and builders—Intermarine, Oceanco, and Trinity among them. He’s also known for the innovative ways in which he plays with natural light, and that talent is illuminated here. In the saloon, for instance, he takes advantage of the panoramic windows, the large sunroof, and the doors on the aft bulkhead that seem to disappear when pushed back. It all creates a space that feels both open in size and open to the elements.

Cheoy Lee commissioned de Basto to create one of the most sophisticated interiors in this yacht class. The designer combined anigre paneling, polished metal trim, and stitched leather on all doors and cabinetry for a sophisticated look. The materials complement one of the largest entertaining spaces in this LOA class. The party potential is enhanced by a layout that puts the lower helm, saloon, and cockpit all on the same level.

The centerline helm station features thoroughly modern controls and monitors, with iPad interfaces for many of the systems.

We give a thumbs-up to the centerline location of the helm. Here, visibility is maximized for the driver, who will also like the removable steering wheel, the throttle/shifter on the arm of the custom-made captain’s chair, and the sexy systems screen on one of the big monitors at the dash. The screen enables the captain to control, among other things, the Simon2 alarm monitoring system that interfaces with the Apple iPad.

The Alpha 76 has other high-tech systems. Perhaps most notable is the SPD-SmartGlass light-control technology. With it, an owner can instantly and precisely control the amount of light, glare, and heat coming through the windows while preserving the view. According to the builder, this 76 is the first large-scale production yacht to make such an extensive use of Smart Glass technology—it operates on about 150 square feet of glass throughout the vessel. SmartGlass can be controlled by the boat’s security system or by iPad.

The iPad offers fingertip control of more than light on the Alpha 76. You can also use the tablets to lift or lower power cleats, which were designed to make it that much easier to leave a mooring.Cheoy Lee 76 Alpha Express specifications

Like all Cheoy Lee models, this one boasts monocoque construction, which means all structural components are bonded to the hull for better integrity. This yard prides itself on the quality of its building techniques. One of the best examples of Cheoy Lee’s facility with structural components is in the master stateroom, located amidships on the lower level. There, a huge window offers incredible views, but to manufacture it to ISO requirements, engineers reinforced it with a horizontal stringer made of carbon fiber.

Yes, the Cheoy Lee 76 Alpha has style, performance, systems, and a strong structure, but she also touts the creature comforts that are de rigueur on a luxury yacht. Among them are a stern garage with tender, cockpit bar, sunpads in all the right places, a hot tub, an oversized swim platform, and multimedia entertainment center.

With a package like this, life in the fast lane looks better all the time.

For more information, visit Cheoy Lee Shipyards.

Jeanne Craig

Jeanne Craig has been covering powerboats since 1988. She spent ten years as a senior editor at Boating magazine and ten more as executive editor at Motor Boating. She’s now an independent writer based in Rowayton, Connecticut, where she’s close to the cruising grounds she most enjoys.