An exclusive interview with Umberto Marco Filippini, Electrical Supervisor at Pride Mega Yachts 

An undeniable mystery has shrouded Pride Mega Yachts ever since its opening. Based far from the traditional yacht-building hotspots, many have wondered about the kinds of projects it will produce, and ultimately how its successes will impact the European superyacht market. And with China one of the leading global producers of tech, no one was more curious than Superyacht Technology News. We thought it was time we found out more about the shipyard behind the serious rejuvenation of the Chinese yachting market.

Umberto, can you tell us a bit about the background of Pride Mega Yachts?

Pride Mega Yachts is the specialist mega yacht brand of CIMC Raffles Yachts, based in China’s Yantai Peninsula in the Bohai Gulf. With more than 17 years of experience in the world of shipbuilding and mega yachts, we design and build our yachts to European standards, with an experienced, international team of world-class consultants and designers. The use of tested, state-of-the art technologies allows for an unwavering focus on innovation and sustainability.

Since re-launching the brand at the 2013 Monaco Yacht Show the company has gone from strength to strength. The yard has also invested heavily in its facilities. In 2014 a state-of-the-art 4,500sqm facility was completed including building sheds, offices, workshops and stores. Then, in 2015, further investment was put into a fully climate-controlled warehouse covering a surface of 2500sqm. Set over two floors, this includes a mezzanine to store yacht equipment and owner’s supplies.

Pride's R&D centre

Pride’s R&D centre

What is your role at Pride Mega Yachts?

I joined the Pride Mega Yachts team in November 2014 as Electrical Supervisor. A key part of my role is dedicating special attention to the lighting and entertainment systems, given the previous lack of experience with these kind of systems & installations in the shipyard.

How different is yacht building in China compared building in the more traditional shipyard areas such as Germany and the Netherlands?

We must first distinguish between the different types of yachts. In the Fully-Custom and Semi-Custom sectors, the differences are substantial due to the lack of both production expertise and a network of local suppliers able to provide the quality equipment demanded by this type of vessels. These deficiencies typically restrict Chinese shipyards when manufacturing mega yachts.

It should be said that with the construction of Illusion Plus, Pride Mega Yachts have filled part of this gap. The 88.5m vessel includes renowned Dutch naval architecture by Azure and a six-deck exterior deigned by London-based Rainsford Saunders Design. Currently under construction, it is due to be delivered later this year and is up for sale for $145,000,000 USD.

It seems Pride is certainly not afraid to look further afield to Europe when sourcing out the best suppliers for its projects. What exciting projects is Pride currently working on? And what have been your highlights from the past?

There was the 90.1m MY Nero, launched in 2007. That was exciting as she was fitted with an ultra-modern stabilisation system, reducing roll motion effect for a much smoother and more enjoyable cruising experience.

Pride Mega Yacht's Nero

Pride and Joy: Nero

The Asean Lady was another very impressive project – a 88.15m luxury yacht, built by Pride Mega Yachts and delivered to her owner in 2004. With a top speed of 15.0kn she boasts a maximum cruising range of 10000.0nm at 12.0kn, fuelled by a 2000.0hp Caterpillar 3516B diesel engine. She had a very interesting and unusual design (with naval architecture developed by Ian Mitchell), based on the ‘Proa’ concept mastered by sailors in the Pacific over two thousand years ago.

And of course, the aforementioned Illusion Plus, currently under construction. Coming soon!

Do you think that currently, every piece of tech created for yachts is both wanted and useful? If not, how do you think shipyards and tech companies can work together to better establish which technology is needed?

Each piece of technology is nothing more than a selling point. We should take care not to propose overly-futuristic solutions which sound amazing, but that often are transformed into problems for the frustrated owners when they don’t work as well as promised. And remember that all clients are different; the real goal is to understand their desires and consequently design the systems accordingly.

Pride's Illusion Plus in construction

Pride’s Illusion Plus in construction

What has been your favourite piece of superyacht technology released this year so far?

It’s hard to say which one is my favourite as there are different areas that excite me in equal way. For naval Engineering I would say the DynaRig design of the SY Maltese Falcon. Speaking of Tech-toys, my favourite is definitely the R.O.V. installed on MY Serene. Hunting sea treasures has always been my dream and for me, driving the R.O.V on-sight through the yacht’s glass bottom is pure fun.

Which areas of yacht technology do you think have come a long way in recent years?

Integrated wiring and LED technology. The boundaries of these advanced scenarios have been pushed in exponential way in the last years. In the most extreme cases we now see eight or more different systems interacting simultaneously at one touch of a button. With the advent of LED technology, Interiors Designers have been able to create new visions that, thanks to the technical expertise of Lighting Engineers, have realised products unimaginable just 10 years ago.

Pride Shipyard

Pride Shipyard

Which areas of technology could still be improved? If you and your colleagues at Pride had a wish list for tech improvements, what would be on it?

I think that today the real problem is getting a fast and reliable wireless connection to the web; I am sure that all the ETOs are of the same opinion. Pride Mega Yachts is pushing its partners to find new solutions for this.

We are also developing a new architecture for House Lighting System in collaboration with a Chinese Partner. In our latest project we have more than 3,000 LED drivers, which is a nightmare in terms of design, production and programming. Our target is to cut 60% of the drivers without modifying the Lighting Design. We have already done the same for AV and entertainment; using the innovative system “SOLSIS” we have been able to eliminate 30% of equipment used whilst keeping the high quality of the 4k installation. We hope to keep making improvements like this, which make life easier for the ETOs onboard but retain the truly luxurious design opportunities that our clients deserve.

Thank you, Umberto. We can’t wait to see what’s next from Pride Mega Yachts.

By Colette Flowerdew-Kincaid


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