Considering the importance of the role that they play, classification societies, perhaps more so than most other stakeholders within the buyer journey, receive fewer column inches then they are perhaps due. Indeed, some market detractors still bemoan what they feel its class’ role in the stifling of innovation, given the rapid development of various technologies. However, at its very core, class ensures a level of reliability and safety buyers should ignore at their peril.

“In an industry where luxury is already taken to the extremes and the pursuit of perfection and innovation never wavers, yachts still have to be designed, built and maintained to the highest standards,” explains Engel-Jan de Boer, yacht segment manager at Lloyd’s Register. “Selecting the right class society can add value at every stage of a yacht’s life, ensuring the safety of the vessels, its crew and the environment while also helping to improve its operational performance. Close collaboration between the yard, the buyer and class, from the innovation and concept design through to operation, is key.”

Traditionally, the role of class has been to ensure a vessel’s structural integrity and safety, and this has not changed. However, over the last 15 years, in particular, the superyacht industry has gone through a period of unprecedented change that has seen vessels grow vastly in terms of their size and complexity. As such, as the vessels themselves has changed, so too has the role of class, evolving far beyond structural and safety considerations.

“As regulations are normally prescriptive and experience-based, new innovative solutions will often not comply with the written rules – or at least not initially. This applies to, and can be a challenge for, all ship sectors, but because the superyacht industry is always pushing the boundaries for the latest technology and design idea, it will frequently challenge the rule book,” explains Martin Richter, ship type expert yachts, DNV GL. “Projects are becoming more and more complex: special customer requests, unusual design ideas, innovative and novel technological solutions and applicable regulations must all be reconciled to ensure the future owner will be fully satisfied when the vessel is completed.”

In order to ‘be in class’ a vessel must be approved, constructed and maintained in accordance with a given classification society’s rules. While it is a pre-requisite for superyacht wishing to operate commercially, it is not a requirement for private vessels. However, almost all superyacht projects today are at least built to class. While some owners may opt-out of being in class once the vessel has been delivered and began operation, doing so will mean greater responsibility for the vessels administrators and management teams. Furthermore, it is generally accepted that a vessel in class will almost certainly retain its value more effectively on the brokerage market and appeal to a larger spectrum of potential buyers.

The Superyacht Buyer Report provides a comprehensive reference tool for any client and their advisory team throughout the buyer’s journey. The report features 16 sequential chapters that outline this journey, with respected experts from every sector advising on best practice at each stage of the ownership process. Above are a selection of extracts from the seventh chapter – ‘The importance of class’ – which clearly highlights the benefits of working closely with class.

To read a complimentary version of The Buyer Journey: The importance of class, please click here.

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