Understanding the Classification of Yachts A, B, C and D

Understanding the Classification of Yachts A, B, C and D:

 Since 1998, Europe (EEC) classifies yachts according to 4 categories A or B or C or D and this is a law. In order to sell a boat in the large territory of the EEC, it must be classified with a plate that mentions its classification and it must be clearly visible inside the boat, usually near the helm.

At first glance, it sounds very good when you hear class A, but what is it really, what are the differences, is it necessary to acquire a class A…

The brokers at ItaYachtsCanada have written an article on this subject in the past (click here), but here are the important characteristics to know about the subject.

The classification allows you to know in which kind of sea intensity you can safely venture, that is to say, taking into account the wind and the wave height in reference to the Beaufort index.

(At the end of this text, there is an explanation of the classes according to the Beaufort index).

Let’s say we focus on class A and B, on the major differences.

First of all, the differences are not very visible to the naked eye or it takes a trained eye to see them.

Depending on the type of water you plan to sail and if the weather guides you on each trip, a B class is also a very good choice.

Of course, you must have all the required safety equipment on board.

Ideally, a boater should always sail in rather peaceful conditions, taking into account the weather first. We always say that boating is fun, so stay away from difficult sailing situations. (Ideally, always with a Beaufort index of 6 and less, ideally a Beaufort index of 4 and less).

Many manufacturers have retained the parameters of the B class to build their boats, mainly for reasons of production costs and that boaters in general do not care much about these characteristics.

The problem is how to differentiate between the vast range of B class boats, how to distinguish those that are closer to an A class (B +) from those that are built as (B -).

How to find your way around, especially for a layman…

It is important to know that some manufacturers build their boats with an A approach, but without respecting all the mandatory specifications to be classified A.

Here are some guidelines to quickly see if the manufacturer has done things right.

– Inspect the portholes and closing mechanisms (Plastic or Metal)

– The presence of numerous drains to evacuate water (at the fly and cockpit), it is essential to be able to evacuate any water accumulation quickly.

– Height of the freeboard.

– Engine access hatch, well insulated and secured for water leaks.

– Bilge pumps (number, size and capacity)

– Mechanism to pump water from the engine room massively (e.g. possibility to use the engine water pumps with a joystick)

– The center of gravity of the boat is well balanced (rather low).

Hull joints, a very low center of gravity, excellent weight distribution, electrical system (24 V), are also part of the certification criteria especially for A boats, but difficult to assess for a yachtsman.  It is possible, but in a summary way.

The CE classification allows to differentiate yachts according to certain criteria present, we are talking mainly about structural strength, integrity of essential parts of the hull, reliability of propulsion, steering systems, power generation and all other features installed on board to help ensure the essential services of the yacht.

Therefore, it is important to understand that a Class A yacht is built to a much higher standard than a Class B. This is not reflected in the luxurious appearance of the boat.

What you have to remember is that the major enemy for a boat, besides a fire, is water infiltration on board which can destabilize the behavior of the boat, cause a stop of the engines, major electrical problems, in short which can quickly put the boat out of use and/or out of control.

A classification body such as RINA (see list at the end of this text) has been checking the activities of builders and classifying yachts for over 20 years.

If the boat is sold in the European Community, the classification is mandatory and must be visible near the cockpit. This same classification is not present when the boat is intended for North America or very rarely.

Do not hesitate to contact a professional broker, he will be able to guide you according to your needs, your criteria and especially the places of navigation.

As the CE classification is not always displayed when the boat is destined for the North American market, here are some references on this subject based on the most recent data available (subject to change without notice):

P.S. Let’s mention that as a general rule yachts over 80 ft are Class A, but according to the rules in place, the classification is no longer mandatory or mentioned beyond 79 ft.



Class A (yachts over 50 ft):


Ferretti 500, 550, 670 and up

Pershing : 7X and up

Azimut 62, 64, 66, 68 Fly and up

Azimut S8 and up

Azimut Magellano : the whole range

Sunseeker Sport yacht 65, Yacht 88 and up

Princess V78, Y78

Marquis Yachts (no longer in production)

Montecarlo MCY 66 and up

Searay L650



Class B (yachts over 50 ft):

Sunnseeker 52 fly, 55 fly , 66 fly, 68 fly, Sport Yacht 74, 76 Yacht

Azimut 50 fly, 55 fly, 60 fly, S6 and all Atlantis

Princess : all yachts under 70 ft

Princess Y72

Ferretti 580 fly

All Absolute

All Fairline

All Beneteau & Jeanneau & Monte Carlo 52

All Searay except L650.

All Cruisers Yachts

All Carver

All Galeon

All Cobrey



For more information, here is an article published by the brokers at ItaYachtsCanada, click here.

There is also the dry weight which can help determine a quality yacht.

Don’t hesitate to compare yachts of the same size based on dry weight, you may be surprised.

For example, a 52′ yacht that weighs 30,000 lbs empty compared to another one that weighs 60,000 lbs empty, ask yourself some questions.

But be careful, it is more and more difficult to get the manufacturers’ empty weights. They have understood the importance of being rather vague on the subject or of making comparisons more difficult. Indeed, we are talking about LIGHT WEIGHT, which is difficult to measure.

The manufacturer who has confidence in thier boat will have no difficulty in giving a total warranty of at least 12 months, 24 and even 36 months.  Please note the  difference here between the manufacturer’s warranty and the dealer’s warranty.

Many European manufacturers sell their boats to dealers in America without a warranty. This means that the dealer assumes the full 12-month warranty out of his profit from the sale. The engine manufacturer, on the other hand, honors its own warranty such as Volvo, Cummins, Caterpillar, MAN, MTU, Yanmar. For other major components, it will be up to you to take the necessary steps to have the warranty honored, such as for the generator, the air conditioning, the thrusters, etc…

Therefore, acquiring a boat requires a much more specialized expertise than that of a car! Contact ITA Yachts Canada Inc. to speak with a professional and independent broker with experience in the following markets (Canada, United States and Europe whether the boat is new or used).


Here is some more information about the classification, what the law in Europe says about it.

Here are some links to help you understand the Beaufort index in direct relation with the classification of yachts sold on the territory of the EEC:

Click here for the TRANSPORT CANADA website

Click here for an article on Wikipedia (more descriptive with photo).

According to the EEC rules, here is the description:

The classification of vessels marked “CE

CE marked vessels are classified into four design categories according to their ability to cope with sea conditions characterized by wind speed and significant wave height. Depending on the type of navigation practiced, the boater must choose a vessel whose design category authorizes such practice.

– Design Category A: Recreational vessels designed for winds that can exceed force 8 (on the Beaufort scale) and for waves that can exceed a significant height of 4 meters, excluding exceptional conditions such as storms, severe storms, tornadoes and extreme sea conditions or huge waves (these conditions exclude force 10 and following).

– Design Category B: Pleasure craft designed for winds up to and including force 8 and for waves up to and including 4 meters in significant height.

– Design Category C: Pleasure craft designed for winds up to and including force 6 and for waves up to and including two meters in significant height.

– Design Category D: Pleasure craft designed for winds up to and including force 4 and for waves up to and including 0.30 meters, with occasional waves up to and including 0.50 meters.

Vessels in each of these design categories shall be designed and constructed to withstand the parameters of each of these categories, with respect to buoyancy, stability and other relevant requirements, and to have good maneuverability characteristics.

The known classification bodies for the EEC:

RINA (Registro Italiano Navale),

BV (Bureau Veritas),

DNV (Det Norske Veritas),

Germanischer Lloyd,

LR (Lloyd’s Register).


Ita Yachts Canada provides the information in this article in good faith but cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information or the status of the data. It is the responsibility of the reader to instruct their agents or experts to verify and validate the information in this article.

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