Iconic yachts: Maltese Falcon
by Roger Lean-Vercoe
Tom Perkins created one of the most sensational three-masted sailing yachts of the past 100 years when he built the 88 metre Maltese Falcon with Perini Navi. Launched in 2006, the project took nearly six years to complete. With her radical unstayed masts made of 'weapons-grade' carbon fibre, computerised sail and mast control system and fast hull, Maltese Falcon, and in particular her FalconRig, was hailed as a triumph of design, development and engineering.
Her long and relatively narrow hull was designed be very fast through the water, and her very long waterline 78 metres assures stability against heeling.
The sails, made by Robbie Doyle, are stored on individual in-mast mandrels and set and furled using a complex but brilliant system that makes use of a large number of electric motors within the masts and on the yards. The great idea of the clipper rig is that a huge sail area, 2,415 metres square in this case, can be spread over 15 sails, thus greatly reducing the loadings. On Maltese Falcon there are a total of 25 sails, giving her 10 spare.
One of the most exciting aspects of Maltese Falcon is her upwind performance. Tom Perkins commented, "We sail as close to the wind as any yacht, of any design, that has more than one mast."
Perkins described the mast and sail control system as almost trivial in its simplicity. "I can teach any sailor how to handle the yacht in five minutes. To the best of my knowledge this is not the case with any other big boat with reel winches."
The superyachts luxury machine interior - a marriage of industrial chic and high tech - was designed by Ken Freivokh around Tom Perkins' striking modern art collection, and features leather, glass, wood and steel. Her layout includes a master suite and five further guest cabins, and her crew of 16 is accommodated in eight cabins.
In 2009 Tom Perkins sold Maltese Falcon to hedge-fund manager Elena Ambrosiadou, who uses the yacht for only a few weeks a year, otherwise chartering her. Maltese Falcon is available for summer charters in the Mediterranean and winter charters in the Caribbean from €350,000 per week.