Exploring CLX96's Features Here On Rich Report
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I noticed the CL Yachts CLX96 flagship, which was both familiar and new at the same time.
There is a sea-splitting entry at the near-plumb and proud bow that transitions gently and linearly before resolving at the cockpit. By carrying some of the yacht's 24-foot beam forward, it creates more interior space without sacrificing seakindliness. A two-tone white-and-gray hull color accentuates the yacht's clean lines, which were designed by Milan-based designer Jozeph Forakis. A formal dining area in the salon has sole-to-ceiling ocean views thanks to cut-down bulwarks amidships. Especially in a salon with a 6-foot-11-inch headroom. Almost all of the CLX96's superstructure is glass.
There is a double-reverse raked design on the superstructure and sky lounge. Imagine an upside-down trapezoid. In addition to being eye-catching, the design is practical as well. With its rugged exterior, the yacht pays subtle homage to the Hong Kong builder's long history of building commercial vessels that can handle bluewater. Nevertheless, this is a luxury yacht. A double-reversed raked superstructure and sky lounge stretch the yacht's lines while presenting a proportional appearance. Additionally, it reduces stress on the air conditioning system by keeping the hot sun out of the interior spaces. By utilizing this arrangement, CL Yachts was also able to push the interior volume to the windows, maximizing every square foot of space.
When entering the salon through the stainless-steel sliding doors, the effect is immediately apparent. Opening the doors reveals a clear view of the foredeck lounge about 80 feet away. In part, Horsmon and Associates Marine Consulting's innovative structural engineering contributed to the open layout. A series of four upside-down-U-shaped carbon-fiber forms contribute to Forakis' open-concept design. Keeping the main deck open is possible because of these forms, which absorb and distribute the stresses of operating on the water. On other decks, there are also forms.
Additional support comes in the form of triangle-shaped outside supports at the after sections of the superstructure. These help with stresses placed fore and aft. As Forakis points out, a triangle is the strongest shape to use in this application. Interestingly, when accessing the flybridge, the teak steps, like the windows, are also reversed, facing aft, as opposed to a traditional forward-facing placement. The design follows the shape of the house, creating continuity from a visual perspective, but it also eases the walk up when the boat is running and the bow is raised.
Supporting the interior reinforcement, the CLX96’s hull is built tough with an infused, cored-fiberglass hull, decks, superstructure, bulkheads and cabin soles. CL Yachts uses biaxial and multiaxial E-glass, and carbon fiber in strategic areas, as well as vinylester resin. The 96-footer displaces about 191,000 pounds.
With the yacht’s stout build, I was curious to see if its twin 1,900 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels would deliver on the performance side. Exiting Port Everglades Inlet, the seas were 2- to 3-footers—not much of a challenge for this vessel, especially when armed with Sleipner Vector Fin stabilizers and a Quick gyrostabilizer, but the conditions did enable our crew of 13 to see the speedy side of the CLX96. At an easy 2,000 rpm cruise at just 68 percent engine load, the CLX96 averaged 19.6 knots while the motors burned about 138 gph. Considering a 10 percent reserve on the yacht’s 4,100-gallon fuel capacity, range at cruise is about 524 nautical miles. At 2,350 rpm and wide-open throttle, the yacht tops out right around 25 knots at a cost of 201 gph, which reduces range to 458 nm. Dial the speed back to 1,500 rpm and 14.4 knots, and fuel burn drops precipitously to 60 gph while range climbs to 886 nm. The CLX96’s teardrop-shaped running surface comes from naval architect Earl Arfaro, who used computational fluid dynamics to help create it. He describes the hull form as having “optimal hydrodynamic properties combined with optimal offshore performance.”
At all speeds, the CLX96 was whisper-quiet at the helm. Everyone could converse in normal tones at about the average 65 dB level. The construction doesn’t just lend itself to a solid ride; it provides a quiet one too.
For all its distinctive exterior style and linebacker-like performance, the CLX96 has an interior that is total luxury. From the salon’s bleached teak-and-holly sole to the Portofino interior option, with satin-finish walnut on everything from the bulkheads to the cabinetry, the feel is modern, upscale and inviting. Owners can also choose the Amalfi interior, which is hickory wood.
The invitation is enhanced by indirect lighting that outlines those carbon-fiber forms on the main deck. There is an L-shaped settee to port that provides the best view of the flip-down 65-inch TV. Forward of the salon is the formal dining space for eight to 10 guests, with the galley counter forward handling overflow with a few stools at the countertop. There is also an island for extra food-prep space, and the galley is outfitted with a microwave, oven, electric cooktop and dishwasher from Bosch. The 42-inch standing fridge and freezer and 24-inch freezer drawer are from Sub-Zero. A trash compactor and garbage disposal round out the galley amenities. There are marble countertops and a backsplash, as well as a Fenix NTM-covered galley island and cabinets. Fenix NTM is a nanotech material that can be repaired with a damp towel and a hot iron if it gets scratched or damaged.
One of my favorite spots is forward of the galley: the Champagne lounge. Aft-facing seating is centered around a narrow table with a U-line Champagne chiller in the middle. Underneath are pull-out drawers for the flutes. The cozy space is further defined by a teak headliner. Forakis managed to keep the floor plan open but give each area its own identity through subtleties like the headliner or lighting. There’s the conversation space, formal eating area, family breakfast nook and after-dinner cocktail space.
From the Champagne lounge, a staircase leads to a four-stateroom accommodations layout, including the full-beam master forward with a king berth and skylight with electric blinds for privacy. Light also comes into the space via hullside windows, which offer ocean views at the settee and vanity to starboard, and from what Forakis calls the “whiskey chair” to port. There is also a walk-in closet, a 65-inch recessed TV and cabinet stowage in every available dead space. There are his-and-hers heads with smart glass that turns opaque by flipping a switch. In the middle is a stall shower, also with smart glass and a teak bench. The shower has sintered stone bulkheads and sole. The head also has Corian countertops. There is a full-beam VIP stateroom amidships, which could double as a second master. It’s set up with a queen berth, flanked by hullside windows, a vanity, a settee, a virtual skylight providing a sky scene over the berth, a recessed 55-inch TV and an en suite head. Between the master and VIP are two mirrored guest staterooms, both en suite and with twin berths that can slide together for couples. There is a GE washer and dryer in the passageway between the master and guest staterooms. There are two crew cabins for up to four people and a crew mess adjacent to the engine room. There is another washer and dryer there as well.
The dream for the CLX96 started during a conversation between Forakis and the shipyard about six years ago, and the ultimate goal was to create a yacht that hasn’t been seen before—one that is, at its core, luxurious but also has the ease of livability, is multipurpose, and is backed by a build made to cross open water. After my day at sea aboard the CL Yachts CLX96, I would say it’s a dream realized.
The Fun Zone
The CLX96’s 1,763-pound-capacity Z-lift platform is standard. With the push of a button, it lifts and extends out, creating a stairway to the sea. Use it as a water-toy launching platform, or use it to increase the beach club’s overall square footage for sea-level lounging on the hook. Teak deck inserts are stowed in the engine room and fill in the gaps when the platform is in the open position.
Piazza del Sole
The foredeck lounge on the CLX96 is arranged for alfresco fun. There are flanking lounges with triangle-shaped drop-down tables. The seating can be raised to create backrests for lunch. Add filler cushions to increase sunbathing space, or add carbon-fiber poles and sunshades. Abaft is a curved bench seat and table in front of the house for several more guests. An owner could easily have a dozen people up there for sundowners on the hook. And when the sun sets, pop up the courtesy lights to keep the evening going.
During our 40-or-so-minute trip down Fort Lauderdale’s New River to open water, the CLX96 showed itself to be quite maneuverable. In addition to the five-blade propellers and SeaStar electrohydraulic power steering, the yacht is equipped with a standard Side-Power hydraulic bow thruster and optional hydraulic stern thruster.
The Sky Life
All the CLX96’s alfresco zones can be opened, expanded and the like, and the sky lounge follows suit. On the practical side, there is the Garmin-equipped helm area on centerline, with three 22-inch multifunction displays, Mathers single-lever controls, twin Stidd helm seats and more. Abaft the helm is a settee to port, 50-inch pop-up TV, fridge and backlit bottle stowage. The sky lounge’s side windows lower for cross breezes, and the aft window connects guests inside to the aft deck for an indoor-outdoor vibe. The aft deck has three bar stools, a settee to port, L-shaped dining with a teak table to starboard, a wet bar, a grill and chaise lounges.
Behind the Design
The practical impact of the double-reverse raked superstructure is a proportional appearance while stretching the yacht’s lines. It also keeps the hot sun out of the interior spaces, thereby reducing stress on the air-conditioning system.
When it comes to dropping the hook, the CLX96 is set up for staying tight. The foredeck has two Maxwell VWC 4000 hydraulic windlasses paired to two 176-pound, high-holding-power anchors secured with 250 feet of half-inch high-test galvanized chain.