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Cheoy Lee Alpha 87


The Cheoy Lee Shipyard has been in continuous operation since 1870, and has produced not only sail and power yachts, but also scores of ferries, patrol boats, harbor and offshore tugs, and pilot boats. Customers of all stripes are drawn to this Chinese yard not to save money but because of its reputation and engineering expertise. In the case of the 87, that expertise is reflected in what you think you see but actually do not.

Powered by twin 1,925-horsepower Caterpillar C32 ACERTs, our test boat achieved a top speed just a tick under 31 knots and 26.5 knots at a moderate 2000-rpm cruise setting. Frankly, those are what you’d expect out of a pair of considerably more powerful engines. How did Cheoy Lee do it? For starters, they began with a hull designed by Michael Peters, who’s drawn more than a few fast boats in his time. One of the characteristics that impressed me about this particular fast boat is its relatively moderate running angles, even during aggressive acceleration. That’s not the norm in a V-drive vessel that puts the weight of those big motors all the way aft.


There’s another big reason why the 87 so deftly tops 30 knots: her moderate displacement. The lamination specifications include all of the latest weight-saving technologies: resin-infusion utilizing carbon fiber and E-glass, a hull bottom cored with high-density foam, and foam-cored superstructure, decks, soles, and bulkheads. The goal, it should be noted, is not only saving weight but also lowering the center of gravity.

The vessel is as profligate as any other luxury yacht when it comes to the use of expensive hardwood, granite, and marble. The difference is that on this boat nearly all of those materials you’re admiring are veneers—in the case of marble, 4-millimeters thick. In nonstructural uses the laminate is backed by composite or aluminum honeycomb. But in other instances, it is vacuum-bagged to high-density foam. The beautiful wood sole is actually a veneer that has been vacuum-bagged to high-pressure laminate and foam while off the boat, then brought aboard and vacuum-bagged into place. Even the cabinetry is veneer over honeycomb.

An aft-engine configuration is widely recognized as being optimum for a planing hull as it allows more of the running surface to uncover. But in a motoryacht it carries with it another benefit. In a typical layout with the engines forward, the owner’s stateroom—or more accurately, the owner’s head—lays up against the forward engine-room bulkhead, necessitating either the extensive use of sound-deadening materials or the acceptance of higher sound levels in this important living space. In the 87, the full-beam crew’s quarters provide the acoustical buffer. Any increase in sound levels there is of little concern because the crew rarely occupies this space while underway. On the other hand, the owner’s stateroom, still buffered by a large head and walk-in closet, is whisper quiet at speed.

Another smart piece of design is the 87’s modularity. Many interior and exterior features, like the aft spa and cockpit bar and the foredeck seating area, are built as stand-alone modules, a feature that gives the prospective owner great latitude in customizing the layout to suit his or her needs.

The basic philosophy of the Cheoy Lee shipyard can be succinctly summarized: Whether it will be pushing ships around a harbor or taking a family on the voyage of a lifetime, create a boat that’s strong, safe, efficient, and built to go to sea. And if she can do so at almost 31 knots, all the better.

Cheoy Lee, 954-527-0999;

  • : 87'1
  • : 21'7
  • : 5'5
  • : 153,200 lb. (full load)
  • : 1,800 gal.
  • : 330 gal.
  • : 2/1,925-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel inboards
  • : 2/2,600-hp MTU 16V 2000 diesel inboards
  • : $5,580,000
  • : $5,953,180
  • : ZF 3050V w/ 2.20:1 gear ratio
  • : 39 x 43 6-blade Platzer Nibral

*Range based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity.

RPM Knots GPH Range db(A)
650 7.5 6.0 2,025 60
1000 11.0 24 743 62
1250 13.3 40 539 63
1500 17.5 64 443 64
1750 22.0 100 356 65
2000 26.0 150 281 67
2250 30.2 180 272 69
2350 30.9 196 255 71
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