Photos by Jim Raycroft
To say I’m a music buff is an understatement. You like iTunes? You’re welcome. I’ve kept them afloat for years. I’m the guy whose digital library contains three versions of the same song: the original, the remaster and the remix. They’re all good jams, but those second takes always seem to raise the bar.
The same can be said of Cheoy Lee’s recently remastered Bravo 72. Replacing the shipyard’s original Bravo 68, this next-generation model drops some tasty new hooks in terms of form and function.
While traditional Caterpillar power remains an option for propulsion purists, Volvo Penta’s pod technology speaks to what this model was conceived to be: a yacht with big-boat characteristics that eliminates the everyday anxieties of owner-operated cruising. Powered by a pair of 800-hp Volvo Penta IPS1050 engines, she packs a top speed of 27.5 knots. A larger engine option is available, said to push the top speed over 30 knots. The IPS integration allows for more engine-room space, which translates to easier maintenance and full-beam crew quarters aft, with access through both the engine room and the side deck.
Cheoy Lee tapped naval architect Howard Apollonio for a completely new hull design to accommodate the IPS drives. Well versed in the 147-year-old builder’s tradition of light but sturdy construction, Apollonio added his version of a double-chine hull.
“The hull is something I derived when I was doing Navy work and refined as technology came along,” Apollonio says. “Based on a Navy fast-patrol boat design, it’s a perfect match for IPS drives on lighter-weight boats, and we modified it for even better performance on the new Bravo 72. By design, it will run with better fuel economy than most displacement-hull cruising yachts of similar size at any speed. It’s unusual in that it actually runs on two bottoms. At lower speeds, it runs on the outer chines; at higher speeds, it runs on the inner chines, and it transitions very smoothly between the two. When you throttle back on the IPS, efficiency is maintained right on down to displacement speeds, and with a fine bow, it’s exceptionally smooth riding in rough water.”
The Bravo 72 cruises very economically at 20 knots using only 2.4 gallons of fuel per nautical mile per hour, for a range of 400 nautical miles. According to Apollonio, that’s about half the fuel consumption that a major competitor provides. Thrusters? Not necessary with the pod system. Neither are gearboxes, shafts, stuffing boxes, rudders, rudder posts, steering components, hydraulics or mufflers.
Also intended to make cruising simpler is a set of Kohler Decision-Maker 3500 generators with auto transfer and paralleling. When the first generator’s load is light, the second generator automatically drops off. When the load is heavy, the second generator comes online. If one generator is in trouble, the other one senses the problem, starts up and takes the load automatically.
During our Fort Lauderdale sea trial aboard the 72, a few simple joystick maneuvers navigated us off the dock and through the typical Bahia Mar bustle into open water, where I took the helm and ran her through a gamut of zigs, zags and S-curves. She tracked like an arrow, which, according to Apollonio, is as much a credit to the far aft location of the drives as it is to the way they function, steering with thrust rather than flow.
The 72 is a manageable vessel, on one hand feeling like a solid beast of a boat while on the other hand showing off catlike agility. With the throttle pinned forward, we seemed to carve less than a 100-yard turning radius. The ride was noticeably smooth despite a light chop, leading me to marvel aloud about how much the stabilizers played into comfort underway. The captain coolly replied, “You wouldn’t know yet. I haven’t engaged ’em.”
Some captains wait their whole careers for the chance to drop a zinger like that.
The IPS option also gave stylist Sylvia Bolton more interior space to work with as part of the flush-deck layout. The walnut joinery and high-gloss finish complement the yacht’s tinted windows, which bring in plenty of light. The open-plan galley makes for a nice social space, while low-profile cabinetry throughout allows for unobstructed views. A day head—rare for a boat of this size—has natural lighting and a stone countertop, backsplash and sink.
Belowdecks, the Bravo 72’s four staterooms include a full-beam ensuite master that spans the nearly 20-foot beam with a king-size walkaround bed, a 40-inch flat-screen television, a sofa and a cedar-lined walk-in closet.
The yacht’s exterior style subtly reflects her swift performance while making her family-friendly functionality clear. The decks are wide and covered to protect guests from the elements. The aft deck with bar is ripe for lounging or alfresco dining. The foredeck lounge offers more options for dining or sunbathing, and yet more open-air space is on the flybridge. At water level, the 72’s tender-lift platform doubles as a submersible swim deck with a freshwater shower.
Designed for family fun and easy cruising, the remastered Cheoy Lee Bravo 72 strikes a cool new chord. If yachts were ear candy, for my 99 cents, she’d absolutely be worth the download.
For more information: cheoylee.com