Resourceful, ingenious, and committed to time-honoured traditions of excellence, the history of the Cheoy Lee is as varied and fascinating as the country from which we come.
Our history dates back well over a century to a humble beginning in 1870 at a building and repair yard for steam-powered craft at Po Tung Point in Shanghai. Run by the same family ever since, Cheoy Lee is proud of the generations of commitment to the founding principles of quality engineering and dependable products.
Responding to world events, in 1936 the family business moved to the British colony of Hong Kong. Initially specializing in the production of powered cargo vessels to outrun the Japanese blockade, by the mid-1950’s Cheoy Lee had diversified into the production of teak sailing and motoryachts, mostly built for export to the USA. Many of the teak sailboats, designed by Arthur Robb and other notable designers of the era, are still sailing today, a testament to the quality of construction that continues to define all Cheoy Lee products. The success of the newly formed pleasure craft division soon became apparent. By the mid-1960’s, 90% of Cheoy Lee production was pleasure craft, primarily for the American market, although the commercial craft division of Cheoy Lee also continued to grow. Cheoy Lee continues to allow the balance of commercial and yacht production to follow market demand, adding considerable stability to the company as a whole.
In the early 1960’s Cheoy Lee established the Penny’s Bay site on Lantau Island, at the western end of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, while also maintaining a smaller yard and head office in Kowloon. As one of the pioneers in the development, testing and use of fiberglass construction techniques, Cheoy Lee phased out wood construction soon thereafter. Fibreglass not only offered huge savings in weight and greater strength, it also eliminated the problem of rot. Constantly improving product, Cheoy Lee advanced fibreglass technology to become a forerunner in the marine use of GRP/foam sandwich construction. In 1977 Cheoy Lee built the world's largest moulded GRP yacht of its time, the 130' motorsailer Shango II, and by 1979 the first all foam cored production motoryacht came on line; the Cheoy Lee 48’ Sport Yacht. This model went on to break through in the commercial sector as well, seeing service as a series of patrol boats in Australia, technologically superior and clearly outperforming rival builders at the time.
The experience in composite construction benefits both commercial and yacht wings of Cheoy Lee. Cheoy Lee yachts have also been constructed in steel and aluminium, an ability granted by the shipyards wealth of experience gained from construction using these materials in the commercial division. Each year, tens of thousands of tons of steel and aluminium is transformed into top quality vessels.
Cheoy Lee continues to be managed by members of the Lo family, now 4th and 5th generation descendants of their forefathers in Shanghai. The shipyards new and sophisticated production facility on the Pearl River in Southern China is now the powerhouse of Cheoy Lee production. And as for almost a century, Cheoy Lee maintains a smaller yard and head office for operations on the Kowloon peninsula in Hong Kong.