Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Maltese Falcon & Her Freaky Masts

If you've been following the recent HP debacle (they hired a security consultant to snoop through journalists phone records) then you may have heard mention of former HP board member, Tom Perkins (of the VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers). Tom owns one of the world's largest private sailing yachts, The Maltese Falcon - a 289-foot Perini Navi vessel sporting three 57-meter tall masts.

A friend passed me this link from CNET...great pictures of the big girl underway after she formally set sail this past July 14 from a port in Italy. From a high-tech perspective the masts are her most notable features. As per CNET blogger Michael Kanellos...

The masts rotate to maximize speed and make the boat more aerodynamically efficient. The rotating mast concept was first conceived in the 1960s by German hydraulics engineer Wilhelm Prolls, but only became feasible later on with the advent of new composites, such as carbon fiber.

Insensys, which specializes in sensors for wind turbines and fiber optic cables, embedded its technology into the masts to provide the crew with data on the structural forces and other strain placed on the mast to ensure that they are not pushed to the breaking point.

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