A STARS AND STRIPES HORIZON
They certainly don’t build yachts like they used to, and I mean that in a good way. Today, we witness many new head-turning yachts fashioned from lightweight materials like carbon-fibre. Advanced versions of hybrid systems and pod drives are also becoming a common sight in marinas around the world. Industry veteran Martin Lo chimes in that today’s consumers, who have more knowledge than ever available at their fingertips, are requesting for yachts with artificial intelligence and new forms of automation. The Director of CL Yachts also notes that tastes have been gravitating towards European designs. Bespoke personalisation and eye-catching modern features continue to be popular among well-heeled clients. As consumer mindsets change, Martin also reckons that green technology is gradually becoming a central pillar of yacht engineering. He applies his wealth of experience when helming CL Yachts. CL Yachts is the series-production yacht division of Cheoy Lee Shipyards, which is a reputed company that has been building innovative yachts since the late 1950s. Founded in 2018 on the tenets of innovation, quality and safety, CL Yachts builds sophisticated and modern crafts for clients around the world. These luxury motor yachts range from 50 to 100 feet and are grouped under three categories: the A, B and X Series.
«Some of my most memorable career milestones include writing a Fiberglass Production Quality Assurance Programme for Lloyds in the late 1980s, which has been accepted and used by other classification societies. I was also very happy when Cheoy Lee Shipyards received full ISO9001 Quality Assurance Certification for the China production yard in 2005, and when we implemented resin infusion for fibreglass production in 2007», Martin shares.
Among the numerous yacht projects he’s overseen over the years, he fondly recalls the 43m and 45m Ron Holland-designed Explorer Motor Yachts that earned Cheoy Lee Shipyards the Best Asian Megayacht Builder Award in 2005 and 2008, hosted by Asia Boating Magazine. No doubt, Martin and his company have been instrumental in advancing and transforming the industry, while setting new benchmarks and trends. Martin and CL Yachts are also proud to have built and introduced the CLX96, which went on to win the Good Design Award, the Bronze A’Design Award, and the International Yacht and Aviation Award 2022. The CLX96 is the current flagship of CL Yachts. As the fourth generation of this family-owned business, Martin has indeed seen yacht design and maritime engineering evolve over the decades and his deep understanding of the industry grants him keen foresight into the immediate future of the yacht market. What kind of trends and requests does he fulfil today, and what might customers desire next? Yacht Design picks this knowledgeable gent’s brain, for a glimpse of upcoming yacht trends.
Mr Lo, what are CL Yachts’ key markets?
Our primary target market is the United States. With steady growth and increasing demand, a global expansion strategy was formulated in 2021. In the past two years, we have appointed dealers in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. Now, we are searching for a reliable partner in Europe.
What percentage of your clients are from Asia?
And among your Asian clients, what styles and designs are currently in demand? Currently, our Asian clients account for about 2 percent and we plan on expanding. Many of our clients in Asia want European-style yachts. This entails avant-garde design and clean lines with a dash of flamboyance.
What new technologies and modern features have surfaced recently in the yacht-building world?
Recently, more yachts are being built using carbon-fibre. Many modern yachts nowadays feature hybrid systems, along with advanced technology like solar power and pod drives.
That’s very intriguing. What else can today’s yachts achieve that yachts could not do in previous decades?
Some yachts now incorporate artificial intelligence and new forms of automation. Green technology has become an important aspect of yacht building, which is no longer burdened by the dogma of naval traditions. We are also turning to innovative designers from outside of yachting, who can provide refreshing perspectives and new ideas.
What else do modern clients ask for when they order a bespoke, modern yacht?
A boat reflects a client’s taste. It is his or her personal statement. Today’s yacht customers are more knowledgeable: they know what they want and know what technology is available in the market today, in terms of performance, luxury, new features and customisation. CL Yachts offers special customisation options, yes, but within reason.
What other trends do you see on the horizon or do you anticipate in the near future?
I foresee an uptick in green boats, because both consumers and yacht builders are more informed about environmental issues nowadays and concerned about the implications of their actions on the environment. Today’s green technology aboard yachts include hybrid drives, which are clean and efficient but have minimal environmental impact. There are also more yachts that adopt new forms of automation, because convenience and ease of operation are paramount aspects of luxury.