Extreme Sailing: The Biggest Boat in the World
(images: Guiliano Sargentini/Emilio Bianchi)
Tom Perkins had done it all. He’d made a fortune, conquered Silicon Valley, even been Danielle Steel’s fifth husband for a time. His venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was an early backer of Genentech, Netscape, and Google. But when he turned 70 a few years ago, Perkins decided to do something even grander and a bit crazier: He would build the biggest, riskiest, fastest, most technologically advanced, single-hulled sailing mega yacht in the world. The 289-foot Maltese Falcon, launched in spring 2006, is that engineering dream come to life.
There’s no official definition of a megayacht, but every one agrees they’re longer than 250 feet and tend to be triumphs of excess, with opulent staterooms, stainless steel and leather galore, plasma TVs — even their own speedboats and jet skis. To accommodate these toys, all mega yachts used to be powerboats, for the simple reason that sailboats must be reasonably svelte. But Perkins insisted on sail power — and refused to compromise on speed or lavish appointments. The solution was to go long, since (other things being equal) the longer the hull, the faster a sailboat can go. The result is the perfect blend of ego and utility, a $130 million wonder that represents the most daring advance in sailing technology in 150 years.
Continue reading at Wired