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A New Era for Superyachts

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Yacht owners, designers and builders are rightly focused on a more sustainable future for the sector and, while the industry is still not fully regulated, there are ambitious targets in place for 2050. There are also advances in digital technology to support the operation of these vessels and new standards for safety and environmental protection. To harness the opportunities available and succeed in its sustainability targets requires focus on several areas, some of which are unchartered waters for the industry.

“Yachts made from steel or aluminium and over around 40 meters (131 feet) are different from traditional production and series boats. The size of these custom yachts means they must comply with a different set of regulations and often have cutting-edge and innovative technologies onboard. This requires specialist support and understanding of market requirements,” comments Fiorenzo Spadoni, Global Yacht Co-ordinator for RINA and head of the new RINA Maxima brand, which is focused on the support of large, custom yachts.

But what does the superyacht sector need from companies such as RINA?

Specialist expertise through the design and build process

Building yachts over 40 meters (131 feet) requires not only technical expertise, but understanding of processes and production timing for these customised vessels. Training programs with major Flag Administrations further leads to stronger relationships with inspectors and a sound understanding of the very latest procedures and codes to ensure faster and simpler flagging of vessels.

Digital tools also offer a modern and more efficient way to collaborate during design phases. By uploading 3D models or 2D drawings onto a digital platform, designers and builders can literally build a “digital twin” of their yacht and gain from the benefits of rapid reference facilities and efficient approval processes. This not only significantly cuts down on the time and costs involved in the design and approval process, but the digital twin can also be updated throughout the lifetime of the yacht with details of any modifications and logging of metadata, such as technical details of the system and brands utilized, to give a comprehensive reference for future owners, designers and engineers.


Harnessing further benefits of digitalization

Latest digital tools offer solutions to make life easier for clients, captains and management companies with real-time performance management, paperless electronic logbooks, and inventory of hazardous materials maintenance tools to digitize and mitigate the risk of human error for onboard administration tasks. Fleet optimization software collects data on ship performance and provides operators with the information they need to make strategic adjustments to operations to ensure efficiencies and costs are optimized and, as a result, emissions lowered.

Management software can also be used to integrate all aspects of ship management. It can incorporate security, procurement management, crewing and HSQE modules to provide deeper insights into operations and enabling effective monitoring, control and cost savings and integrate hazardous materials maintenance software, and fleet efficiency optimization tools into a single, powerful, tool to provide management companies with complete control of every aspect of a vessel.

Of course, together with digital transformation comes the challenge of cybersecurity. With operational (ship) and personal (passenger and crew) data in digital form, security is essential. In line with this need, RINA has released the additional class notation, “Cyber Resilience,” which considers the protection of data from both an operational technology and information technology point of view and its cyber experts are a new and essential part of services to the superyacht sector.

Safety and comfort, always

To reflect the need for safety and comfort in a modern age, a new range of certification and other services are designed to support the design and operation of superyachts. COMFORT LARGE YACHT & DOLPHIN notations reflect the level of noise and vibration onboard, and the noise radiated into the water. Noise and vibration assessments can assist with both measurement and prediction of levels to ensure comfort is factored into the design of large, custom projects.


Meeting decarbonization and sustainability targets

More than ever, the yachting sector requires support from a broad range of expertise. Decarbonization is not only the remit of yachting, or indeed the marine industry as a whole. It relies on collaboration and a global, multi-sector approach, transferring knowledge, technology, and expertise from sectors such as mobility, energy, infrastructure, space and defence.

Decarbonization requires a multifaceted approach, considering technology, fuels, infrastructure and digitalization. The digital tools that will optimize ship performance and operational processes are a first step that can be fully engaged today. However, alternative fuel expertise and their supporting technology are also required to meet targets.

Alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and methanol, are quickly becoming commonplace in a new era of custom-yacht designs. Using expertise from other sectors, for example energy, enables companies to advise clients from both and engineering and design standpoint, through RINA Marine Consulting, as well as providing rules and guidelines for the eventual yacht certification.

The latest Sustainable Yacht Notation provided by RINA assesses both environmental and social targets. It is a result of combined compliance against GREEN-PLUS, COMF LARGE YACHT, DOLPHIN, MLC DESIGN, BIOSAFE SHIP and other sustainable targets. The notation covers a wide-reaching set of targets including pollution, welfare and comfort onboard, noise emission underwater, and protection against the spread of viruses.


There is a new era in the design and build of custom superyachts that requires a change to the services provided by classification, and engineering support companies.

Spadoni concludes, “The creation of the RINA Maxima brand reflects the modern demands of custom superyachts, bringing together broad and in-depth expertise to specifically the needs of this sector. It is designed to help owners, designers and operators meet the challenges for the future and deliver the skills required to embrace the benefits of a new approach which incorporates digital and future-ready technology.”

Fiorenzo Spadini
Global Yachting Commercial Director – RINA
M. +44 7741643176