When the late Tom Perkins of Belvedere launched his 289-ft blue-hulled Maltese Falcon in 2007, she was the most talked-about sailing yacht of her time.
Obviously length was one big reason. Only Jim Clark’s 292-ft Athena and Barry Diller’s 310-ft Eos were longer, although in all other respects Falcon was bigger than both of them.
Then there was Falcon’s unique Dynarig, which employed three unstayed masts and a unique way of setting 18 sails. The Dynarig had been proposed years before but never tried. Dykstra Naval Architects of Amsterdam refined the concept and tested a small-boat version of it on the canals of Amsterdam.
Falcon’s builder Perini Navi wasn’t willing to take the risk of building the masts and systems, so Perkins had to form his own company to do it. It was a very ballsy and expensive move by a guy who had a long history of taking successful risks in the world of venture capital.
In the years since, several other Dynarig yachts have been proposed, but to our knowledge none has been built — until now. A few months ago the 347-ft Solar, designed by Dykstra Naval Architects and built by Oceanco, came out of a shed near Rotterdam and is now being fitted out and getting sea trials. Falcon was big, but Solar is much larger than an additional 60 feet would suggest.
An unusual feature of Solar is her bow, which is indented for “wave slicing.”
Depending on how you define the term, Solar is now the world’s largest privately owned sailing yacht. The other contender is the 468-ft sailing yacht A. There are two differences between the two yachts. First, Solar is designed to travel under sail power, while A is classed as a ‘sail assist’ vessel. Secondly, and this has nothing to do with length, Solar is a beautiful yacht in the classic sense, while A is stone-cold ugly. As we’ve mentioned before, this is a shock because the owner’s previous A is the most innovative and perhaps best-looking motoryacht we’ve ever seen.
The owner of Solar has not been identified, but it is supposed to be a very ‘green’ boat. As green, we suppose, as a 347-ft boat for the owner and 11 guests can be.
Perkins once told us that it had taken him seven years to have Falcon built. He would only own her for a couple of years before selling her to a woman from Cyprus, who charters Falcon to the likes of Tom Hanks and other actors.