“We had a serious technical challenge to meet our customer’s expectation of a quiet yacht,” Christophe Kloeckner, Couach’s CEO explained to SuperyachtNews.com exclusively. “We knew when we signed an agreement with him in February 2013 that it would be difficult for us to achieve what he wanted, but we are a team of engineers, and felt that this was exactly the kind of challenge we needed to win.”
According to the penalty-backed contract for Belongers, sound and vibration was measured throughout the yacht at three different speeds: Hull speed, 12 knots and 18 knots. During sea trials last month, Couach surpassed the client’s expectations by five decibels in some cases in the 40-decibel range—a significant technical achievement and a major victory for the yard, which has cleared a series of financial hurdles—including with the client directly—to deliver the project.
To gain an advantage, Couach initiated a rapid learning programme so they could develop the skills in-house to solve what they saw as a primary technological feature that would benefit not only Belongers’ owner, but all future Couach clients. Though they started their sound and vibration studies with the Dutch experts at Van Cappellen, the yard quickly realised the benefits of its parent company ownership structure. Kloeckner refers to an anonymous engineering guru from Couach’s corporate parents via Nepteam, who they called upon to help realise advances in sound and vibration attenuation.
Silent Cab is Couach’s name for their floating cabin construction, which separates all interior surfaces from the structure of the yacht. It’s not rocket science but implementing it correctly was a particular challenge for the yard. “We had to start from scratch on these matters,” Kloeckner said, referring to loss of personnel the yard suffered in recent years.
The second advance for the yard involved mastering the components that drive noise and vibration. “We developed an analytical capability to identify which wavelengths were creating the noise and then put in pace countermeasures.” They call their VRS: Vibration Reduction System.
“I truly believe we have a soul in this company that gets excited about technology and engineering solutions,” Kloeckner said. “Silent Cab and VRS are the two pieces of Couach’s technological comeback.”
Kloeckner said that he and the yard’s key investor Florent Batistella have researched technologies that could be brought into yacht construction from industries otherwise unrelated to yachting. “Our only concern is the comfort of the owner,” Kloeckner said. “We’re not interested in technology for technology’s sake. Whatever we decide to develop will be focused entirely on building a yacht and a brand that uses technology intelligently to serve the customer.”
Kloeckner says the next challenge for Couach’s engineers is the issue of smell and fumes. “We’re investigating solutions that could be implemented which would avoid the fumes when you’re in port or out at anchor,” Kloeckner said. “There are means that exist today in other industries that we’re looking at bringing in that will help us address both the small and the sight of engine exhaust.”
“Apart from the lines and styling of the yacht, we believe we really need to offer our customers something that others cannot,” Kloeckner said. “When a customer pays €35 million for a yacht, he deserves one that is fast and silent and as clean as possible. We think that’s comfort.”