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Sunseeker violating CE design rules?

Discussion in 'Sunseeker Yacht' started by lobo, May 24, 2013.

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  1. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    In August 2011, on flat water and with perfect visibility off Neustadt on the German Baltic coast, a Sunseeker Predator 74 ran down a windsurfer. It is a miracle that he survived, although with very severe injuries.

    The BSU, German equivalent to the British MCA, has now released the accident report: [URL="http://www.bsu-bund.de/SharedDocs/pdf/DE/Unfallberichte/2013/UBericht_326_11.pdf?__blob=publicationFile"/URL] Only available in a German version at this time, but with some instructive photos and graphs.

    Key findings:

    • Excessive speed (36kn) close to the shore (0.6nm) in an area with small craft traffic off the beach.

    • Sunseeker, although CE certified by RINA, does not comply with CE regulations regarding unobstructed visibility from the helm station. The max. obstruction allowed by CE (fwd. 112,5 deg port & stbd) is 30deg - the expert witness measured 52 to 64 deg field-of-view obstruction on board the Sunseeker, flat water / even keel. "Extensive design and build modifications would be required to comply with CE requirements."

    RINA and Sunseeker have been notified. Prosecutor and lawyers are working on the case.

    Finally someone taking on those unsafe, purely design-driven helm stations …. ?
  2. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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  3. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    Sure this is another very sad case of reckless driving, by an owner-operator. And in the course of an official Sunseeker "Baltic Cruise" promo event for clients and potential ones ….

    But beyond that, for Sunseeker (and other builders with similar helm station designs), and RINA, the now published findings raise a few more questions:

    ? How could the builder manage to convince the RINA surveyor, that on their yachts 30 equals 64? Will RINA react?

    ? Are vessels still legal to operate in the EU, if their certification was gained by a blatant violation of CE regulations, directly related to the safe operation of the vessel?

    ? Will insurance companies and ship registers take action, or turn a blind eye to the report?

    BSU is an independently operating federal agency with a view only to preserve life and avoid accidents in the future - no chance to "settle" with them, or hide their findings via secrecy agreements. Their published reports are carefully reviewed and valued in criminal and civil courts.

    We'll see what comes out of all that …
  4. Chasm

    Chasm Senior Member

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    In this case is that it's not property damage but loss of limb, also both the Owner and Sunseeker have lawyered up significantly. Their high end lawyers appear to be doing their job, delaying everything.
    A lengthy thread about the accident in one in one of the German forums has disappeared, it is unclear if this was an internal decision or not. This particular forum has a significant amount of fast boat owners so it may be internal.

    The investigative report issued by the German Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation has pretty much the disclaimer as the MCA reports. "...not assigning blame..." "...may not be used in court..."

    Still, the recommendations to RINA are pretty much unprecedented. "Investigate within your quality assurance program whether or not you vessel surveys meet the requirements set in DIN EN ISO 11591."
    The report previously showed that the vessel violates the field of vision rules and obviously should not have been certified.

    Not too surprisingly scuttlebutt is that RINA also has lawyered up.

    It will be interesting to see if and how this case continues.
  5. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    No doubt the angle most will take is that it was being operated at an unsafe speed within 600m of the shore.

    We can therefore expect to see the Captain turned into Biltong at some distant time in the future.

    As for RINA being lawyered up I would expect that they are that way with anything pending or not.
  6. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    The owner = skipper will go down anyway. His defence is that he was going 22kn when the AIS shows him going 36kn, and that the windsurfer was trying to overtake him, or surf his stern wake, upwind in a wind speed where a board will not even get on a plane.

    The relevance beyond previous cases of reckless driving comes from the report's findings relating to Sunseeker design and build practice, and RINA certification policies, under CE regulations.
  7. kughi_s

    kughi_s New Member

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    Hy to all,
    what I know from my experience is that to be under CE at least one of the helmstation need to be compliant with the visibility CE requirements, the Predator 74 has an helm station where I guess there is no dubt that it is compliant. The situation describe above is very common in the world wide boat industry. The capt is the only guilty on this.
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It takes 2 to tango, And collide.

    Unless the SS skipper made a sharp unexpected turn into the WS, the WS shares some of the blame. My 3 years of high school German isn't enough to read the report but the AIS data doesn't show any sharp turn, just a course correction of 10 to 15 degrees.

    I think we all have come across boneheads who decide to force the issue and get way to close, whether jet skis, kayaks, and especially windsurfers. My home waters have what is without a doubt the highest rate of idiot per square miles of navigable waters and sometimes you just end up shaking your head mumbling "what is this guy thinking"

    I routinely find myself on both sides of the fence, either running 60 tons of boat at 23kts or sailing a small slow 12' cat boat and you can bet that I NEVER put myself in a position where my life relies on the other guy seeing avoiding me.

    I really hope the report is not all about blaming the builder for the helm layout... Although in this age of nanny state bureaucrats regulating everything in hope of protecting everyone, I wouldn't t be surprised... Is this a lousy helm ? it sure is, And I have no tolerance for lousy designs... But responsibility to avoid a collision eventually rests on both operators.
  9. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I run a 62' Sunseeker Predator (which is an express). Helm visibility is on poor side, but not as bad as some other yachts I've driven and there are many things blocking you're view. I don't know how any of the express builders could get CE certification on most all of them.
  10. franzmerenda

    franzmerenda Senior Member

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    It's sad to be said, but at the end of the day CE has been introduced by the European Community to protect European Manufacturers from world rising competition.
    I got mad to get the post-production declaration of conformity, for a few inches shorter bow-rail, in spite of a huge number of European Boats, running all over without any hardware at all!
  11. Chasm

    Chasm Senior Member

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    At this time not much should happen. If you have one maybe talk to your lawyer. First and foremost try to avoid collisions. ;)
    If something happens in regard to the CE cert of the Predator 74 you'll get mail, most likely at first from your insurance company. They have insured a vessel with CE cert, no one without.


    The report states that the flying bridge is an option on the Predator 74 and that this particular Predator (Hull 2511174) does have one.

    Anyway, RINA has been asked which configuration and which helm station, if the type vessel had more than one, has been surveyed for the CE certificate. RINA answered that the certificate has been issued based upon the inner helm station.



    Here is some background and what will happen:

    A CE cert is required to operate boats in the EU, alternatively an exemption (grandfathered, etc) is necessary.
    The various norms contain the technical descriptions how a product has to be made in order to obey the underlying laws. For some products (here ships) Certification agencies (here RINA) have to certify that a product meets the requirements, based on this the CE certificate is issued and the product can be sold and operated.

    The commercial certification agencies are subject to oversight by the various product safety authorities on both national and EU level.
    Now that the BSU has issued the report the German authorities have reasonable doubt that the Sunseeker Predator 74 meets the requirements and must start their own investigation.

    Sunseeker then has the opportunity to prove that the product meets the norms or alternatively that their product meets the requirements of the underlying law. (Again, the norm is the technical description how to meet the law. If you can convince the authorities, and probably courts too, that you meet the law - good for you.)
    Just as with any other product (toxic toys, highly flammable hair dryers, ...) the Product Safety Act offers several tools to protect the public, here including mothballing the vessels until the situation is solved. The ultimate option would be to issue an EU wide recall.


    One of the interesting questions is if additional CE certs issued by RINA get investigated should the first be proven to be spurious.
  12. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    CE certification

    We are just having gone through a complete CE certification for the 24 Meter one off fast boat for my son. Remember, the one with the 4 Volvo IPS. Having done that at a northern European yard under a northern European certifying agency, the yard, the designer and the naval architects did a great job. The agency was tough (really hard a....) on all of us, but fair. The outcome is a real high quality, well designed, safe (in all aspects) and seaworthy boat. And it even looks good.

    Will say, the CE rules are generally good. The are supposed to put all builders and sellers under the same regime of safety, quality and effort. They are mainly tought for production boats but as you can see, they work also for one offs. And the warranty rules are also the same for everybody.

    So far for the theory. We have a saying in Europe. "In Europe, rules and laws are invented in Italy or France, sorted out in Brussel, legislated in Straßbourg and put into practise (only) in Germany". I would not been so hard. I would say put into practise in Germany, Netherland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and Finnland plus most of them in Austria :). But thats it.

    If you have the chance to go to the Düsseldorf Boat Show, have a look at an average production boat in the 30 to 45 ft range) from Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherland and then compare it to an Italian, French or even some British boats ( I say, some British, because there are also some very high quality boats build on the island), you will see the difference. They are all CE certified, but.... Look behind the panels, the electric, into the engine room, there is a difference. But like said before, if you want northern European quality, you have to pay a northern European price.

    But their must be a minimum standard. At least for safety and seaworthiness. If cheating is tolerated by the certifying agencies, the CE Certificate gets worthless and is only used as an alibi.

    I say again : "Mediterranean way of life is no substitude for safety!!!" I am sick of this matter.:mad:

    But on this case, the full blame has to go to the skipper of this 74 SS. If I cut my finger with my kitchen knife, its not the fault of the knife, because it is sharp, its my fault, because I am to stupid to handle it.

    Cheers
  13. Laurence

    Laurence Senior Member

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    Two Parties

    Pascal has a valid point on this. Any trip thru the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon includes running a gauntlet of aggressive windsurfers.
  14. MountainGuy

    MountainGuy Member

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    The court in Kiel now found the owner of the Sunseeker responsible for the accident and ordered a 8 month suspended sentence and € 10.000,- fine to be payed to the "German society for the rescue of castaways".

    Read the (german) article here:

    Seeunfall: Strafbefehl gegen Sunseeker-Skipper - Panorama|YACHT.DE

    and also follow the link at the bottom of the article with a detailed description and suggested consequences...
  15. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    The German TV channel NDR 3 will air a documentary about this case tonight at 21:15 local.
    Should be free to view on their internet pages later as well.

    lobo