Do yachting and racing mix? Yes, when powerboat veteran Gene Weeks, his wife, Paula and yacht builder, Cheoy Lee Shipyards, join the Powerboat P1 Superstock Series.
When the venerable Cheoy Lee Motoryachts took advantage of the market evolution from super-yachts to smaller, sleeker Express Yachts, the company tapped the expertise of Gene Weeks who raced and had helped build brands like Donzi and Statement. Weeks and his wife, a mechanical and motorsports-savvy woman, moved to Doumen, China for two years to help design and build Cheoy Lee's new Alpha Series. The 76' and 87' Express Yachts are part of a new genre of luxury performance boats, designed for power-seekers, who enjoy the comforts of sumptuous salons, cabins, galleys and en suite state rooms. Plus, Cheoy Lee delivers power ranging from twin 1,200 MTU with pod drives to C32 1,900 HP Caterpillars with ZF V-Drives, boosting its sleek styling to high speeds.
Appealing to this market segment, Weeks looked to racing's P1 Superstock series, featuring identical racing/recreational vee-bottom boats, powered with single Evinrude 250HO engines to "race on Saturday, play on Sunday."
The CL-Alpha.com boat, with the Weeks husband-wife at the helm, raised awareness at the series' first race in Stuart, Florida, and the company decided to continue the sponsorship through 2013 to complement its Fort Lauderdale sales/marketing office.
"The powerboat market is the perfect audience for Cheoy Lee's Alpha Series," said Weeks. "The boat's nimble handling is akin to the feel of a Vee-bottom performance boat. Boaters who like power enjoy the sensation of the big diesels, and still accommodate the family's appreciation for luxurious amenities. An Express Sport Motoryacht keeps everyone happy!"
The 28', 2-4 seat, open-cockpit CL -Alpha.com P1 Panther boat, built by Mystic Powerboats, is seen at the Cheoy Lee sales office, almost as a tender for the Alpha other Cheoy Lee Yachts. Known for expertise, Cheoy Lee is new to racing, but not to boat building; started in 1870, the company has grown and expanded around the world, exporting commercial vessels and 100'+ yachts, mainly to the U.S. market. "'Made in China' has new meaning when you see Cheoy Lee's intricate designs and fastidious building standards," Weeks said, who dedicated his past two years to bringing the Alpha Series Sport Motoryacht to fruition, examining what features to include and achieving the design excellence demanded by Cheoy Lee, and the luxury marine industry. "An Express Yacht is a big step up from a powerboat, but a logical progression for this generation of performance boater," he explained. "We feel confident that the Superstock Series, with its European, upscale influence, provides ideal exposure for Cheoy Lee—especially since the races are along Florida's boater-friendly East Coast and aired on Fox Sunsports TV."
The CL-Alpha.com boat will compete in the Powerboat P1 Superstock schedule of weekend racing activities and multiple heats. The first race was a thriller for all participants while the second race in Daytona was cancelled due to hazardous weather conditions; the last three races will determine the Championship:
•July 19-21 Pahokee, Florida
•August 16-18 Cocoa Beach Florida
•September 13-15 Marathon, Florida