PRIME Megayacht Platform: the future of semi-custom superyachts?

Written by Gemma Fottles

A conversation with Barin Cardenas, co-founder of the newly established PRIME Megayacht Platform, will leave you with a feeling ready to take on the world. He is a man who simply oozes passion, initiative, a definite sense of direction and, to be frank, it’s contagious. With PRIME the second company with Cardenas currently at the helm, the South Floridian entrepreneur is determined to propel the superyacht industry out of stagnation and into the bright lights of the future.

Though one of the pioneers of the future of the industry, yachting wasn’t on Cardenas’ radar at all upon returning to South Florida from college almost 20 years ago. Taking up a position with a luxury events firm, he explains how this position at the beginning of his career naturally lead to where he finds himself today: “I was exposed to things that I had no idea existed when I was growing up when I was working in luxury events. I immediately connected with this side of life - when the budget allows, you can do so much more. It was the experience of luxury that lead me to yachting, but more specifically, how to enjoy luxury. Not how to have money, but how to enjoy your success.”

It wasn’t long before Cardenas made the transition to the field of superyacht brokerage. Explaining his personal progression, he elaborates: “I’ve been involved in 52 new builds of varying sizes throughout my career which has really helped me to become very well rounded - I have the experience necessary to really get projects off the ground. I decided to really focus on new construction because that is what I am really passionate about. Creating new brands, creating new projects - I’ve been a part of 28 first hulls.”

Perhaps nothing epitomises this philosophy of passion, creativity and celebrating your success better than the PRIME Megayacht Platform concept. A truly collaborative effort between co-founders Cardenas and Lucas Silva and a selection of designers and shipyards, the PRIME platform offers owners the opportunity to, basically, redefine what constitutes a semi-custom build. With a pre-engineered platform with several innovative space saving features, clients are presented with a (current) collection of four very different superyacht concepts from the drawing boards of Azure Naval Architects, Reymond Langton and DeBasto Designs, with the opportunity to build at one of two shipyards, the American Burger Boat Company, or the Dutch Bloemsma.

Explaining PRIME in more detail, Cardenas says: “PRIME is a sailboat and motor yacht hybrid. Our main focus is comfort and stability. On the platform, there is no visible engine room, and everything is one continuous deck so there are no steps, either. This gives us space to include a beautiful sky lounge area on the main deck forward where the master cabin would usually be. We did that by moving the engine room down to tank level. We raised the tank level to a comfortable height, put the engine room down there with a ton of technical spaces for crew needs and such… so now we have this basement, if you will, on the yacht. That also means we are able to raise the decks a little bit, and we have this fantastic 2.2 metre height on all decks.”

“We of course made it hard on ourselves by putting the engine room below” he continues, “So then we had to get very technical in order to figure out how to manage that. We’ve done a very good job: we had Azure Naval Architects helping us with this, as well as the shipyards Bloemsma and Burger. It’s good to get feedback and have conversations with people who tell you that you’re crazy and it’s not going to work. Then I ask, ‘Why not?’ And then we push, push, push until it does work. Everything has been very well thought out before we ever brought PRIME to the market.”

Clients are not limited to the collection immediately presented to them, and are invited to reach out to other designers, as Cardenas enthusiastically details: “If you want to take one of these and build it, fantastic. If you want to build something different, fantastic!”. The thinking behind this? To eradicate the more irksome technical planning and preparations and pull the client into the creativity process to really get them excited - not just about their own finished product, but about the broader scope of the superyacht lifestyle. “We’re inviting people to build on our platform, so we create the hard part, and we let the client create the part that’s fun. We have the technical specs, the hull defined, the sound, the generation, the vibrations… it’s all done for you,” Cardenas explains. The logic is simple: provide a soon-to-be superyacht owner with an experience so enjoyable, so fulfilling and so engaging, that not only will they be totally enamoured with their own boat, but their enthusiasm will be passed on to potential superyacht owning peers, creating a snowball effect of good recommendations and positive experiences.

Although the PRIME concept will inevitably not be to everyone’s taste and there will undoubtedly be those with criticisms of the company, one of the most interesting things about PRIME is that Cardenas and Silva are going full throttle: they are throwing themselves into something they believe in, something they perceive as a tool to bring about wider industry change. Talk of how to appeal to the next generation of superyacht owner - the dot com millionaires, the heads of the tech giants, the children and grandchildren of current UHNWI’s who have grown up in a tech-saturated world - is abundant, but actions speak louder than words: “I don’t think that the superyacht industry is keeping up,” Cardenas states. “I think there’s still a school of thought whereby people think they should just continue to do what they always did before. We need to a stronger push forward. There is a lot of new technology being adopted by our industry, but a lot of the time when we say are we being innovative, we’re lacking. Our original tagline at PRIME is, ‘The confidence to create.’ That’s really what we believe in. We have the confidence to get the job done and create something exciting and new.”

So, are more platforms such as PRIME what the industry needs to survive in the long-term? Time will only tell, but what can be certain is that people like Cardenas - brimming with enthusiasm and with a willingness to work almost unstoppingly - are given the chance to succeed and, well, change things for the better. Agreeing, Cardenas concludes our conversation with as much fervour as we started: “It’s fun to talk about what will, we hope, catch on in the industry. We’re not trying to make this just our thing, I think innovation as a whole is what drives superyachts in the first place. It’s very exclusive and very interesting, and we’re making it available to more people. There is more wealth in the world today and people have the means to enjoy more. It’s our job in the industry to create more. Keep creating, keep bringing out new and exciting products, and think about why people want boats in the first place. My take on it is that as boat builders and designers and creators, we’re entertainers. We’re the most interesting entertainers in the world and we have a responsibility to make our audience happy.”

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