I must admit that I didn´t had CNB on my list of items up until I joined Beneteau as a professional. This brand is, although around in the yachting business since the year 1987, a very small and seldom mentioned manufacturer of boats. Which is a pity indeed because yachts built by CNB – Construction Navale Bordeaux – are not only very beautiful but have the reputation of being of superior quality and blessed with a number of fine properties.
As a matter of fact, I had to skip a chance to board a CNB during Cannes Yachting Festival last year (read my article here) and thus I was happy seeing a CNB yacht displayed at this year´s edition of Boot boat show in Duesseldorf. Thanks to the kind staff I was allowed to stroll around inside and on deck of the CNB 66 for as long as I wanted before show opened gates to the public. Here´s what I brought home from this yacht. The CNB 66 as displayed in Duesseldorf is the smallest sister of the current product line of three yachts available, ranging from 66 to 76 and 94 feet. There´s also an older 60 ft model still available. The 66 is the latest thus newest boat in the line. The hull has been designed by Philippe Briand, interior design has been done by renown architects Jean-Marc Piaton and Rafel Bonet.
What is CNB? The yard is a brand of Beneteau Group and marks the upper end of the Group´s range of brands. Semi-custom and custom-built superyachts is the main product of the CNB yard. As one employer tells me, the yard is due to make one ship per month which makes a total of 10 to 15 boats annual output of the yard. With prices starting from around 1.4 Million Euros for the CNB 66 the range of potential clients is naturally a small one – but also the range of possible competitors. So I was very keen on the boat´s finishing quality.
My personal opinion is that yachts ought to have a white hull. This is something I find compulsory in a boat. Nevertheless, the grey hull of the boat shown in Duesseldorf has something to it. No matter which colour, one thing can be taken for grated here: And this is the finest quality of the build and the utilization of best equipment and parts.
Flush Deck and Cluttered Cockpit on the CNB 66
First I noticed her very sleek and modern hull design. There´s a very short deck superstructure which is also very flat indeed. The windows are made of a continuous facing to appear even slicker. Rounded surfaces at the transom play around with edgy forms – not unlike the Beneteau Yacht 62 – to break with accustomed viewing patterns. It´s definitely not a classic and bootlicking design – Briand created a unique and one-time style here.
Standing in the cockpit I first noticed a very familiar layout that reminded me of the Maxi 1200 which – during last year´s Boot Duesseldorf – really got me excited. Also here on the CNB 66 there´s the mainsheet winch positioned right in the middle of the cockpit, easily reachable from either of them two steering wheels. Another sheet winch is positioned forward of the helming station to either side for the jib sheets. But that´s essentially it. So a skipper will have to run the boat with German Mainsheet System and a multitude of clamps – no secondary winches whatsoever. The CNB 66 is a cruiser made for easy cruising.
Steering post has an interesting configuration. First I notice a GRP moulded seat to emulate the place to sit when the boat is salting away when heeled. That´s a nice feature because having this allows the rest of the boat´s superstructure to be teeny-weeny flat. A forward extension of this seat features the steering elements like an (electronic) lever for the engine, bow and stern thruster controls, plotter and other gauges and buttons. The steering post with the carbon wheels are making a solid impression. Of course, all of the deck of the CNB 66 is covered with massive Teak. I liked the bright caulking instead of the classic black caulking which matches the grey hull colour of the boat and also breaks with viewing patterns.
All secondary winches are positioned aft right in front of the wheel. That´s a great position (if all winches are electric and may be operated by pushing buttons) because either the helmsman can do work the winches from behind the steering post from the control panel or – if wanted – by classic grinding because there is sufficient space in front of the steering post up until the seating area for the guests begins with large sofas to allow a person working the winches manually. The guest´s area is thus free of lines and working staff. A U-settee around a hydraulic movable table and one larger 4-seater vis-à-vis are a great place to enjoy sailing or a sundowner.
A bit disappointing is the fact that the Teak decking in the bow doesn´t feature a classic fish batten in the middle of the longitudinal axis. Instead, there´s a simple single batten. I think for a boat in this price range and class a classic fish would have suited very well – on the other hand, the clean straight lines of the decking and especially of the fish-batten matches the modern approach of the boat. Maybe that´s my personal opinion because on production boats that´s a matter of price saving with “cheap” Teak decking. Anyway, that´s the only small thing of an otherwise flawless CNB 66 appearance on deck.
Pure Luxury Sailing: CNB 66 Interiors
As one can clearly see, Briand did a wonderful job in designing the CNB 66: The superstructure of the coachroof is very, very short in relation to the overall length of the hull itself. At the same time, the roofing structure is very flat. In combination with the sleek, dark black windows and the catlike design this is creating a very speedy and aggressive look. The whole boat appears more to resemble a classic sportscar than a sailing boat and this might be very appealing to customer´s eyes here.
Then I entered down the smooth angled and very wide ladder to the saloon area. And I was surprised at first. It feels rather “small”. Well, small isn´t the right word in this case as the CNB 66´s saloon is nearly some four to eight times bigger than the saloon on my own boat, but for a yacht that big I was surprised to see such a cosy and intimate saloon creating a mere “living room”-like atmosphere.
Two big sofas are arranged facing each other, one of them in “lounge mode” thus creating a big lying and lounging area. The upholstery is comprised of finest leather and fabrics, the flooring is a very fine carpet. Well, from a seafarer´s standpoint and also practical reasons I would always tend to darker upholstery and a clean and neat wooden flooring rather than having white colours prone to red wine spots and other things which can make this fine material look dirty in a course of a cruise, but this boat was shown in “millionaire´s mode” I guess so we´d have to imagine this fine yacht being fitted to really set set sails.
The CNB 66 is not a classic deck saloon yacht like an Oyster or alike but there such a certain feeling created by the nearly 270 degrees panorama view-capability provided by the portholes in the superstructure. What looks very sharp from the outside – the flat and short superstructure design – has now to be credited once in the inside: The windows appear very flat and small. Because of the high freeboard creating immense internal volume and standing height the windows are very, very high: So, getting a nice view means to get onto your toes and stretch your neck as long as you can. Smaller people are advised to go outside on deck in the first place here.
I love the sofa. The quality of the upholstery is beyond any doubts perfect. Taking a seat here means sitting down on a cloud of the heavens. Very, very comfortable and I can imagine myself after 4 hours on duty up on deck coming down below, sitting down, laying down – I would fall asleep at an instant because of this cosiness. Just wonderful! Also in harbour, this lounge configuration might add to a private party or being used for an extra couple of guests if the big cabins are occupied already.
Like all big boys this yacht isn´t a no frills boat at all. The energy consumption must be huge as this yacht is bristling with electrical consumers all over the place. The illumination of the staircases, steps and doors of the boat alone must equal that of my whole own yacht. Nevertheless, the level of luxury achieved on this boat at no time appears without reason to me. Everything, although agreeably oversized to a large proportion, makes sense in it´s own way. You´d find the illumination of the staircase up on deck a bit over? Me too, but you would also agree that having the stairs illuminated is a practical and good thing to have.
You see, I am a kind of “classic” sailor and I love paper naval charts, classic logbook entries, dead reackoning on a chart every two hours and to sum it up: I love classic nav stations with a decent seat to haul myself onto, a nice big chart table and thus the nav station of my dreams is sort of the most sacred, most special place aboard a yacht´s interior. Thus the reduced and “modernized” version inside the CNB 66 isn´t quite what I like here: Sitting stern ahead on a stool which is part of the sofa is one thing, having no backrest and being forced to sit averted from the crew and guests in the saloon is a big issue too, but being forced to look right into the galley (and presumably being reminded to do the dishes) is a no-go. That´s definitely not my favourite solution here. If I were the owner, a wooden bulkhead to seal off the galley would be something I´d go for here.
Being Ship´s Cook aboard a CNB 66
Speaking of the galley. As the CNB 66 bears a stern owner´s cabin the galley is classically situated port side aft. There are two small steps down and you are finding yourself in a cook´s paradise. The boat features everything a ship´s cook would need to prepare the finest food. A multitude of freezers and fridges, a dishwasher (of course), a large circumferential Corian-like worktop, CNC-cut from one piece, and again finest stainless steel fittings round the picture. This is a galley of my dreams and probably bigger than most ordinary people´s kitchens at home.
There´s not much to say about the galley rather than it must be a pleasure working here. The same reasons which are making the nav station´s rigging a no-go for me are the plus points for the galley: This area isn´t cut off from the saloon thus from the rest of the crew. It´s a nice and open space which is transferring a lush atmosphere and will make the ship´s cook´s work more bearable. I love the galle for it´s light suffused open architecture and the sheer volume – even better than on the Hallberg-Rassy 64 in my eyes.
One odd thing though was to find two steps on the floor here which might bring the cook in trouble because they are placed right where the cook is going to work all the time. This could pose a threat to the cook when the boat is working it´s way through heavy seas and higher waves. You can easily overlook the steps and miss is – falling and serious injury might occur. I don´t think that this is a clever idea to put not just one, but two steps in the middle of a galley.
Nevertheless, the pluses and the minuses are in equilibrium here and the overall impression is a positive one. I particularly loved the woodworks inside the CNB 66 which an employer explained: The veneer is prepared in a very interesting way. The wood is fully submerged in wood stain and by technical means, similar to vacuum infusion technology, the stain is forced to permeate the whole material. So when sanded and treated later, the stain is not just colouring the outer perimeter of the veneers but through and through the whole thickness of the material. That should also create this saturated colour and the full force of it.
Cabins on the CNB 66
I didn´t take too much pictures of the cabins of the CNB 66 because as you might imagine on a 66 feet superyacht the internal volume and fitting of these is of superior quality. And it really is indeed. What I found interesting on the other hand was the pureness and – to my mind – relatively bling-free appearance of the cabins. They are virtually “empty” and there is no overload of design features or material cockalorum whatsoever.
I loved the materials used for ship´s side covers and the colour scheme. That´s something completely unseen on boats so far for me, just like transferring a New York City-loft to the seas. The cabins do not tell you that you are actually aboard a boat. It´s the understating design of a neat Hotel room. For my taste it´s too much of it but I can clearly see the point why this may attract many people. When for example people tell me that the wooden fittings on a Hallberg-Rassy are too much of a ship for them, I can imagine these people feeling perfectly fine aboard the CNB here which appears totally “un-shiplike” in this manner.
I liked the working area in the owner´s cabin with a small (but again very cosy chair) facing a small table. It´s not too big so maximum is a laptop fitting here, but I assume that most owners will work that way nowadays. All the other elements like size of the beds, stowage and stuff are beyond expectations, this is a multi-million Euros yacht and believe me, there´s more than enough space for finding a good night´s sleep here.
A Dream Made in Bordeaux
CNB yachts are said to be seaworthy and fast sailing boats. The tradition of CNB is a long one and I´ve heard up until now no contradicting arguments. The yard output isn´t that high so CNBs might be seen seldom. The hull looks sleek, the rigging of the lines and the layout of winches refers to a serious sailing yacht.
The stern is moderately chined and the double rudder configuration is state of the art. A fixed shaft engine with a very nice folding prop might propel the boat when there´s no wind at all and there´s also a sufficient garage down under the cockpit area for the obligatory jet tender. Although the CNB 66 bears lots of elements of a pure luxury cruiser made purely for mooring and serving as a party location in the lush nights of the Cote d´Azur I can also spot elements which hint the sailing performance of this beauty.
All in all the CNB 66 was a very interesting yacht to visit. The boat seems to try a balancing act between a modern luxury superyacht bristling with all amenities imaginable and a true performer when it comes to sailing. It would be such a treat being able to witness this yacht unfurling the sails and getting the mighty main up and jumping to life, being heeled and cutting majestically through the blue waves – because this is what the CNB 66 surely is able to perform very well, I am sure.
You might read all articles on the Boat Show Duesseldorf by clicking on this hashtag #boatshowduesseldorf
Read more about other Dream Yachts here:
The ultrafast Pogo 12.50
Berckemeyer 49 – an aluminium marvel made in Germany
Sailing a Rolex: The “small” Oyster 575