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Review: Perini Navi 289' Clipper Yacht "Maltese Falcon"

Discussion in 'Perini Navi Yacht' started by YachtForums, Apr 28, 2010.

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  1. As rigged and sailing, Falcon’s impressive design allows her to sail close-hauled at 45° from the wind, as opposed to the 55° or 60° of the traditional square-riggers of old. Here they show as one complete unit, all holding or changing course as directed by the helmsman at the computer screens. Her masts do bend to a degree under wind pressure, as noted, the 3.5 meters – 11.4 feet at the tip. Sail furling mechanism is worked by the electric motors inside the masts. Perhaps one of Falcon’s greatest advantages over the old style – besides her outstanding freshness and beauty – is her lack of standing rigging; via the DynaRig, invented by the German Wilhelm Drolls.
  2. In profile view, the 'Falcon contains many of the same elements as most sailing craft, large or small. The major differences are in the rigging. Each of the three carbon masts are 190’3” (58m) long. Perkins chose Damon Roberts, a practiced Carbospars expert from Insensys, to supervise construction in the Perini yard at Tuzla. Perkins purchased this yard for the project, but later deeded it to Perini.
  3. Interview With Maltese Falcon Chief Build Engineer and
    YF Member; Jed White


    1. How did you get involved with the Falcon project? What is your background?

    I trained and worked as a Quality Engineer for 10 years, starting in a Foundry doing a basic apprenticeship then becoming a quality inspector. I moved from there to electrical inspector at a company making bomb racks and rocket launchers for the British Air Force and then about 16 years ago I realised that factory life was not for me and I would make my career from delivering yachts (a summer fun job that I’d done for a couple of years). I decided to combine my passions for yachts and engineering and become a Marine Engineer. I trained at Berkshire College and after finishing my exams was employed by the college as a Marine Engineering Instructor.

    In January 1994, I left the UK to work in the Mediterranean on sailing yachts, progressing into Superyachts by 1995 and have been furthering my career ever since. I was Engineer on the 38m motor yacht ‘Atlantide’ also owned by Tom Perkins, in St Barts in 2002 when the Perini Navi team came aboard to finalise the “The Maltese Falcon” project and I offered my help to Chris Gartner (the prospective Captain) straight away. 18 months later, at the end of 2003 Chris phoned, offering me the job as Build/Chief Engineer and in March 2004 I headed for Istanbul and supervised the build in Turkey for two and a half years.

    2. What were your initial impressions of the DynaRig concept?

    The hull was built many years ago by Perini, but never sold until TP (Tom Perkins) decided to buy and build a yacht using the hull. He asked all involved for their ideas for the rig. The other rigs considered were three masted Bermuda or gaff rig and a normal square rig. But TP wanted something to suit the modern hull that was on offer and Gerry Dykstra had an idea.

    GD was the Naval Architect chosen and his idea of the ‘DynaRig’ came from an old German design from the 60’s. It had been developed to power commercial ships during the oil crisis but had been shelved due to the ending of the crisis and the problems of building a freestanding mast strong enough. The advent of Carbon Fibre meant that the whole concept became viable and GD convinced TP that the ‘DynaRig’ could be built and would perform in the manner he wanted.

    I first saw the concept in St Barts in 2002 and was initially skeptical like most people, but talking to the team from the Architects and rig builders (Insensys) I realized that; not only would it work but also it would revolutionize large yacht sailing because it could be operated with only one person, it was efficient and was easily used and maintained.

    3. What were the biggest technical challenges and how were they overcome?

    The rig was built almost completely in Tuzla, Istanbul, Turkey in a custom built shed with a 60m oven and vacuum facility.We ordered carbon from around the world (after NASA, the 2nd largest purchase in the world in 2004) and then shipped it to England to be woven into the specific weave required.

    The Naval Architects (GDNP) built a number of models including a1/6th scale rig, 1/40th scale radio controlled model, and then in early 2004 a full sized copy of two yards and one sail on a steel rotating mast. This was used to develop the furling system with the help of Insensys (the mast builder), Perini Navi and GDNP.

    Chris Gartner (Captain) and I spent months up and down this rig, testing parts and sails to tune the setup and then to destruction to make sure that the system would perform under all conditions. Every so often GDNP, PN and Insensys would visit with new or modified parts and we would fit them and test again but always they would leave and then it was down to CG and myself to keep up the testing. We tested throughout 2004 and 2005, through the winter snow and gales and eventually GDNP, Perini and Insensys were happy with how it all worked and the final designs were agreed. We also developed the methods for working aloft and changing sails during this time.

    4. Tell us about the sea trials. Adventures? Mishaps?

    We did the first (motor) trial at the end of May 2006 and everything went great, we achieved good speed with low noise and vibration and at the end of the day had set a top speed of 19.6 Kts under full power which was amazing and gave us great expectations for sail trials. The sail trials were supposed to be over a number of days with tests in a progressive sequence and slowly increasing the number of sails and sailing angles but as usual TP decided that all was well and within the first hour we had full sail up and were racing across the Sea of Marmara. It all went so well that we only completed the one day and testing was finished.

    5. It's been 4 years since the Falcon took flight. How has boat held up? And the rig?

    After 13,000 miles I’m still awestruck. The rig has performed almost faultlessly with only a small glitch in the operating system (designed by Cacini) and a couple of damaged sails (normally due to operator error rather than design or manufacturing fault). We’ve been across the gulf of Lyon twice in a Mistral once with over 65 Kts of wind (max 68) and at one point with only four sails up we hit a record speed of 24.8 Kts. We’ve had the deck under water almost every time we sail (15 degrees of heel) and a couple of times even the capping rail (25 degrees plus).

    On my last day onboard, I went out in the tender while the ‘Falcon’ was sailing and even though I’d been aboard through all the build and all the sailing and seen all the photo’s, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the awesome sight of the ‘Falcon’ leaving her mooring or anchorage and within minutes all the sails are set and she’s charging through the water at 15 Kts almost effortlessly.

    6. What are your thoughts on the future of the DynaRig concept?

    I think the whole concept was a leap from the past directly into the future. Taking the square rig into the 21st century and proving that it could be done with the technology of today. I’m sure the technology will be used by Perini Navi and GDNP in future yachts and I hope one day to see many more yachts or ships with a ‘DynaRig’.
  4. Deck Plans; Top to Bottom -

    1. Plan View
    2. Bridge Deck
    3. Main Deck
    4. Lower Deck
    5. Bilge Deck

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  5. To follow a historical discussion on the build, launch and sea trials of the Maltese Falcon with members of YachtForums, follow this link...

    Maltese Falcon Discussion


    If you want to put the Maltese Falcon on your desktop, follow this link for a selection of wallpapers.


    Maltese Falcon Wallpapers


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