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“ The Design Categories for Boats ”


In June 1998, the EU has enacted a CE Directive to harmonise safety characteristics of recreational craft between 2.5 and 24 meters in length in all EU member states („that the product is in conformity with the applicable requirements”). Since then, this directive has been amended repeatedly (four times in 20 years), the last time in 2016.

This directive is based on a classification following the so-called design categories, which are used to make a distinction between classes of recreational craft according to their seaworthiness. The seaworthiness is defined using wind force (speed on the Beaufort scale) and wave height.

design categories for boats

The following four categories are listed:
Wind force (max)Wave height (max)
Design category Aforce 8 to 94m
Design category BForce 84m
Design category CForce 62m
Design category DForce 40.3 to 0.5m

Since this directive has been implemented, every boat (no matter whether sea-going or not, new or used) that has been placed onto the market or put into service in the territory of the EU since June 1998, must comply with this CE directive, which also means that it must have a classification according to the design categories.

For recreational craft with CE marking the following documents must be available :

- A declaration of conformity : an official document of the manufacturer, confirming that the fulfilment of the requirements has been demonstrated
- An owner’s manual : information on the boat and its equipment
- A builder’s plate : firmly fixed to the boat, containing the CE marking
- A type, batch or serial number : a number on the hull, not identical with the builder’s plate​







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