N.B. For your information, a more recent article was published on 24 Oct 2022 on the same subject, click here for direct access.
Demystifying yacht classification : Class A, B, C and D
Since 1998, CE certification is required for all recreational boats entering or being sold in Europe obliging boat manufacturers to respect certain building and security standards. Therefore, yachts ( boats ) are classified into four categories depending on their aptitude to confront navigational conditions taking into account both force of the wind and height of the waves. The categories are not to limit the area and distance of navigation (that is defined by security equipement onboard) but to sensitize the owner and/or captain of the boats capacities to navigate in complete security.
Let us start with the Beaufort Scale. A scale for classifying the force of the wind ranging from 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane). It was devised by an admiral in the British Navy, Francis Beaufort, to uniform the description of the effect of different winds at sea.
There is a direct link between the Beaufort scale and boat classification. For discussion purposes, we will use only the 6, 7 and 8 forces.
A Class A yacht ( boat ) is a vessel that is built to navigate the open ocean and surpass a force 8 on the Beaufort scale and surpass waves higher that 4 meters. These yachts are constructed to be self sufficient in hostile seas.
A Class B yacht ( boat ) is a vessel built to navigate on the offshore waters (200 miles and less) and can substain UP TO force 8 and waves UP TO 4 meters.
A Class C boat is a vessel built to navigate inshore such as lakes, rivers, bays and close to the shore and can sustain UP TO force 6 and waves UP TO 2 meters.
A Class D boat is built for protected or sheltered waters such as canals, rivers, small lakes and sustain a force 4 and waves UP TO .3 meters (less that 1 ft).
With this said, you can understand that the Class A yacht ( boat ) respects a rigorous building code more so than a Class B and so forth. But regardless of the class, it is strongly discouraged to navigate in a force 7 for the reasons of safety and comfort as « pleasure » should always be on the agenda. Always consult the weather forecast prior to leaving any port and check hourly the weather situation.
Classification is very important and should be on your question list before purchasing any boat or yacht.
Classification rules are developed to assess the structural strength and integrity of the essential parts of the hull, the reliability and function of the propulsion, steering systems, power generation and all the other features installed on board which contribute to guarantee the main essential services of yacht.
Also for a class A, the portholes will be more resistant against a sustained wave, the drains to evacuate the water more abundant and of good size, the joints of the hull more hermetic, in short everything is in place to prevent water from s’ infiltrate on board.
By way of information, let us quote for example all the Ferretti yachts (60 to 96 feet), Pershing (60 to 115), the Riva (44 to 122) are all of class A just like the Magellano range at Azimut including also the 66 Flybridge.
Ferretti yachts (500, 550, 670 fly and over), Pershing (7X and over), Azimut Yachts (62, 64, 66, 68 Fly and over, the Sport Series 7X and over, all Magellano) are Class A. There are also other classifications such as RINA and American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, Lloyd Register, that are more precise regulations and we will cover this later in another article.
Below is the graph of the Beaufort Scale along with photos.
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