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10/10/06   Views 5660
Perini Navi’s unique expertise in sail handling and control systems makes this possible. The Falcon’s 2400 square metres of sail is made up of 5 panels per mast, each with 1 furler and 4 outhauls. Perini knew that by evolving the systems already deployed in more traditionally rigged Perini Navi yachts, one sailor could manage all the sails individually and they could endow the Falcon with unrivalled levels of control and manoeuvrability.

Perini Navi’s unique expertise in sail handling and control systems makes this possible. The Falcon’s 2400 square metres of sail is made up of 5 panels per mast, each with 1 furler and 4 outhauls. Perini knew that by evolving the systems already deployed in more traditionally rigged Perini Navi yachts, one sailor could manage all the sails individually and they could endow the Falcon with unrivalled levels of control and manoeuvrability.

The furlers working in conjunction with the outhauls, can open or close a sail in 75 seconds, and the full sail plan in 6 minutes. The control panel is a masterpiece of ergonomics. Packing great complexity into an elegant and intuitive layout reflects a key principle in all Perini design which is to make things simpler, yet safer, to use. A hand held version will allow each mast and its sails to be controlled from anywhere on the boat, or even from on-shore. By adopting this sailing system, the team clean up the deck - there are no sheets, winches and cleats – and reduces the sailing crew compliment to 1.

So how has it been achieved? The Falcon has followed a classic R&D pattern. Set challenge,
examine options, develop proposed solution, test. Repeat.

For example, once the Dynarig sail plan had been chosen, and the Perini team had established the viability of the electric control systems, a mast had to be built that could handle the torsion forces involved. The challenge was unprecedented. Dijkstra load tested the sail plan above 100 knots in wind tunnels and knew the forces involved would be in line with conventional sail plans. But normal masts don’t have to be able to rotate against the wind with sails up; nor are they free standing. To meet this brief, carbon composite material was chosen. With Insensys on board to manage the mast build, carbon fibre was shipped from Japan (in quantities that had only previously been required for military aircraft), woven into rolls and meticulously laid and glued in Perini Navi’s Turkish facility, Yildiz Shipyard, to create three 55-58m long masts of extraordinary strength.

These were lowered into the 9 tonne heel bearings which houses the mast rotation system comprising four 75cc hydraulic motors for total installed power of 30 kW -plus 30 kW for back up- for each mast in order to deal with a maximum torque moment of 1000 kNm (the equivalent of 1000 Bentley Arnage engines, the car with the highest torque on the road.)


This must be one of the most heavily tested boats ever built. Compared to a normal mast,the added complexity of a rotating, bending mast of this size, with weakening slots running pretty much the full length is exponential. But extensive use of fibre optic monitoring (fibre optic threads are interwoven in the carbon fibre) by Insensys has allowed thousands of readings to be made and tolerances to be calculated. The team is comfortable with the idea of the top of the mast bending 11 feet from centre in heavy conditions. Such new techniques and materials, plus the applied engineering significantly update the original studies from the 60’s at Hamburg University where the Dynarig concept was originated as an idea to offset possible fuel crisis for commercial shipping. One of the problems it encountered then was the lack of a material strong enough to maintain torsional stiffness. But also the project was dogged by funding worries and never made it beyond the desk stage. It would probably have remained in the archives had Gerry Dijkstra not re-opened them and the Maltese Falcon team has put theory into practice. After initial calculations a 1/6th scale single sail was built to check the sail handling system. Thereafter tank tests were performed on a 1/30th scale model of the Maltese Falcon at Delft University of Technology and then wind tunnel tests were performed at Southampton University.

Next the team built a full-scale test rig which stands at the end of the Yildiz dock and has been used to endlessly tinker with all aspects of the design - for example the details of the tracking for the sails.

The 88m hull has also undergone modifications under the same regime of test and adapt. More visibly, steel octopus-like mast supports have been added at deck level. These are the stunning external signs of the hull re-enforcements that have been built into the Maltese Falcon to spread the loads from the 1000kNm torque generated by each of the rotating masts. The base of the heel bearing has two anti-torque bars attached to the hull to anchor the hydraulic motors that rotate the masts. Without these modifications the hull would burst apart.

The results of the first sail trial, which took place on the Bosphorus on June 7th, fully confirmed the expectations and this was the Owner’s first comment: “Everything worked as engineered and the yacht achieved some remarkable numbers: hard on the wind in 15.8 knots true, at 38 degrees relative wind angle, we sailed with no fuss or strain at 10.5 knots. (These results were achieved with the topgallants and the royals furled) On a close reach at 60 degrees relative angle, the speed (still at knots 16 true wind) climbed to 14 knots. The balance is, essentially, perfect – with weather helm never exceeding 0.6 degrees on the wind, or 2.5 degrees on a fast reach. The angle of heel was around 15 degrees, but in a puff, once touched 20 degrees. The leeway angle was well under 5 degrees (without the dagger-board in place). Since it was our first day out, and we wanted to be careful, these results were achieved with the topgallants and the royals furled – so we expect even better numbers in further tests. The maximum loading on the masts never much exceeded 50% of our (very, very, conservative) limit, so, we have plenty of room for some even better results.”

Tom Perkins, Mr and Mrs Perini, Giancarlo Ragnetti, Katrina Arens, Mr and Mrs Gokbayrak
The astonishing sailing performance of the Dynarigged Perini Navi Maltese Falcon has been confirmed during her “maiden” cruise from Istanbul to Malta, her home port: four days of voyage 100% under sail. With the wind forward of the beam, varying from force 3 to force 8, the Maltese Falcon sailed upwind most of the time. The average speed during the passage was 10 knots, occasionally touching 16, when the wind permitted her to bear off a little onto a close reach.

“The Maltese Falcon has written a new page in the history of yachting, the Dynarig is no longer an experimental concept.” These are the words that the Owner chose for describing this tremendous achievement. Perini Navi CEO, Giancarlo Ragnetti’s, comments on the largest Perini Navi sailing yacht: "With the Maltese Falcon we reached a milestone in the yachting industry. Her sailing system is a true revolution and it will have a big impact on the global large sailing yacht business. The technological achievements together with the overall quality of the manufacturing have set a new benchmark for the rest of the yacht-building community. This result has been achieved thanks to the commitment, dedication and know-how of Perini Navi’s Turkish workforce. The work that they have been able to do has outclassed any quality requirement. The Maltese Falcon is a clear and evident example that the Turkish yachting industry is today among the finest in the world." Fabio Perini’s thrilled words about the latest big accomplishment of his Shipyard: “The Maltese Falcon is a real sailboat, and a very practical one at that. The technology developed for this yacht is unique. The Maltese Falcon was created thanks to Perini Navi’s acquired experience and especially due to the owner, Tom Perkins' extensive experience in yachting and his commitment to this project. With him and for him we have created an incredible sailing machine. The sail control system and human interface that were developed allow him to manoeuvre the 88m Maltese Falcon in total security, autonomy and achieve remarkable sailing performance. ”
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Perini Navi, Viareggio, Italy
Cristina Bernardini – Sara Gioanola



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