RINA's additional Comfort class notation covering noise and vibration, originally developed for cruise ships, is now available for large yachts. The voluntary notation goes above and beyond the IMO standard, "Code on Noise Levels on Board Ships", with the aim of satisfying the high expectations of today's luxury yacht owners and passengers.
The standards are high. Out of more than 60 pleasure craft to have received RINA's Comfort class notation, only one yacht so far has achieved 100%: the Genesi, a 47m superyacht with diesel-electric propulsion. Built by Italian yacht builder Wider and delivered in April 2016, it can run at 14 knots so quietly and smoothly that passengers have to look out of the window to realise they're underway. Both COMF-Y (for yachts) and COMF-LY (for large yachts over 60m) are already in high demand by yacht owners and boatyards wishing to increase the prestige and value of their vessels.
What does "comfort" on a yacht mean? One might think that reducing noise and vibration to an absolute minimum is the ultimate aim, but it's not that simple. Removing all background noise, even if technically possible, means there's nothing to filter out any unexpected noises. The first Rolls Royce prototype was allegedly so quiet that at 60mph the loudest noise was the tick of the clock. Masterful engineering for sure, but that ticking clock could quickly become annoying.
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