Showroom conditions can make any yacht shine and seem to promise the best of passages. The reality, though, is that peace of mind at sea hardly comes better than when construction is under the watch of the oldest name in sea safety – Lloyd’s Register. For 48 years now, Contest has delivered yachts with the surety of a Lloyd’s Register Hull Construction Certificate. Building to this standard means very much more than most might realise, and no other semi-custom sailing yacht constructor has such a continuous history, or in this sector such a high level of certification. Contest Yachts truly go further in design, engineering and build protocols than other constructors.
“It’s funny,” says contest CEO Arjen Conijn, “most times we forget what we actually do.”
Now that could be a worrying statement, yet it is not. It’s an assurance. Oblique, yes, but honest and very positive.
“We forget to tell people about the detail of what we do that others don’t. We have always built good, strong, innovative deep-seagoing boats, and when we first started to work with Lloyd’s Register in 1972 – in the time of my grandfather who founded the business – it was, I suppose, to verify this for ourselves. And that, combined with our underlying approach, involves so much more, to provide for and cover every event that we reasonably can.”
“We’ve worked with Lloyd’s Register ever since. It’s voluntary, there’s no obligation to do so, it adds cost and time and explains why we are one of few involved at this level, but it ensures very much higher standards in construction than the baseline statutory certification required of leisure yacht builders. There are holes in those safety nets. Working to Lloyd’s Register class, and at this high level, is very different.”
With the aim of preventing erroneous or dangerous design and construction, and by providing various layers of rules dependent on craft type and intended modes of operation, around the world there are a dozen classification societies. Lloyd’s Register is the oldest, most renowned, and most respected. And the result of this relationship between Contest Yachts and Lloyd’s Register delivers to Contest owners the unique surety of a Lloyd’s Register Hull Construction Certificate (HCC). But so few realise what this actually brings.
On this rung of the yachting ladder it might surprise that the only mandatory standards in fact reveal significant shortcomings, not least that constructors need only submit data to a remote party before self-certificating. Conversely, working toward a Lloyd’s Register HCC, the contracting yard must open its doors wide to full and ongoing inspection and survey of calculations, drawings, plans, materials and methods, and actual manufacture of each individual yacht to be certified.
Over and above the conventions of the industry’s ISO directives, to the standards of which leisure yacht construction must adhere as a minimum, there is a substantial upgrading throughout Contest’s entire processes. In essence, for hull construction certification, Lloyd’s Register surveyors first need to approve and stamp all construction plans for hull, deck, bulkheads, including collision bulkheads and watertight compartments, stiffeners, keel area, mast support, rudder area, chain plates, engine foundation.
All calculations, that’s 2D and 3D, and finite element analysis, must be submitted. And these include values way beyond ISO’s limited view, and far exceed requirements also of the entry level Lloyd's Register Hull Release Certification (HRC) adopted by certain builders, and at times presented rather ambiguously. HRC is based only on the moulding of the hull, not the structure.
In summary, for example, with Contest Yachts' high level Hull Construction Certificate, load cases include 90° knockdown with keel unsupported by water and hanging completely on the hull construction; and in the case of forward grounding, Lloyd’s Register requires impact resistance equivalent to three times the boat’s displacement at the lowest tip of the keel. Similarly, bottom grounding and chain plate loadings also far exceed the mandated norm. This is just the beginning.
The build of each subsequent yacht is then checked on site by a Lloyd’s Register surveyor at several significant stages of build, and visits can be unannounced. All materials must be approved and notated, while a build-log records critical data such as humidity and temperature and the individual names of workers, each approved by Lloyd’s Register, responsible for key aspects of build. Destructive tests are also run to check component parts, particularly composites to ensure a match with requirements.
As Contest design engineer Jan-Pieter Vredeveld says, “There are so many things we do that are upgrades compared with ISO standard boats. For us it’s just normal, nothing extraordinary. Take Lloyd’s Register’s stricter rules on impact resistance. By close collaboration between Contest Yachts and Lloyd’s Register, we surpass these standards under our sophisticated vacuum infusion moulding technologies and, significantly, achieve this with lighter overall weight than others attempting this.”
It is demanding and complex but the benefits are many and double-sided: as an independent professional third party, Lloyd’s Register has a neutrality that ultimately serves the yacht owner more than yacht builder. Certification is not a gift, it is earned. Lloyd’s Register does not automatically agree or continue approval.
The responsibilities are very clear. Lloyd's Register surveyor Ranko Petkovic, who has been Contest Yachts’ lead technical specialist for the past 15 years, tells the essentials as, “… shell plating and its thickness, then the weight of the reinforcement in the skins, thickness of the core, then the stiffening of the hull in general, the frames, floors, deck, deck beams, these are checked and then you go to the details like hull penetrations, keel connection, winch connections.”
Compliance with full Lloyd's Register HCC is an onerous undertaking, and one gladly undertaken by Contest Yachts with the advantage over others of the most perfect composite structures at the core of every Contest, designed, engineered and delivered for the safest and most enjoyable performance bluewater sailing.