That's Newsweek's David Kaplan describing the Maltese Falcon, a $130 million dollar high-tech sailing yacht as long as a football field, with free-standing carbon fiber masts that go 20 stories high.
When people talk about mega-yachts, they're usually talking about powerboats. To make this boat sail without compromising its luxurious attachments like leather-and- steel-filled staterooms, plasma TVs, speedboats and Jetskis, they had to make the 1,367-ton boat extra long (289 feet). And come up with a crazy way to power it, by wind.
If the...Falcon were anchored in New York Harbor, its masts would nearly reach the tablet in the arm of the Statue of Liberty.
The square-rigged ship uses a new rigging system called the DynarRig, designed by Gerald Dijkstra, which uses hollow, freestanding masts of carbon fiber to control 26,000 square feel of surface on 15 sails. The CEO of Perini Navi, the boat builder, saw the plans and said "whatever that is, it's not going to sail." The masts, at their base, are only 5 inches thick, toward the top, only half an inch. The stress in the masts is monitored by fiber optics in the masts. When sails are unfurled and stowed, it's done by 75 motors.
But the ship isn't completely computer controlled. David closes a Wired feature on the boat by quoting Tim saying, "No way Bill Gates is controlling my boat...I don't ever want to have to press Control-Alt-Delete to restart..."
I gathered a lot of these images from around the Web, and from a Wired Magazine feature and a Newsweek piece. But you can find out a hell of a lot more by reading David's book, Mine's Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built.