Maltese Falcon

AMSTERDAM – If this is the age of smart yachting _ fuel saving hulls, hybrid propulsion, foils, hi-tech sails, hull vanes, power regeneration etc. _ then why did it take 12 years for the 2nd computer-steered Dynarig to appear on a yacht?

Because yacht owners can be such spineless traditionalists, says Chris Gartner, ex-skipper of the 88m (289ft.) Maltese Falcon (upper photo) and current captain of the 106m (350fr.) Black Pearl (lower photo).

A baffling 12-year-drought separates the launches of the Maltese Falcon (2006) and that of the Black Pearl (2018). That’s odd given the good performance data generated by the Maltese Falcon. Dykstra Naval Architects, the rig’s designer, highlights the evolution of the Dynarig in an interview with Black Pearl captain Chris Gartner in a recent newsletter of the Amsterdam studio.

On the Black Pearl, Gartner says, “everything is newer and more advanced” than on the Maltese Falcon. “The carbon-fiber masts are bigger, better, stronger and rotate faster. The sailing controls are much the same, but the controlling software is much more sophisticated. We can set all the sails in 7 minutes. Another difference is that she was designed by Dykstra from the hull up to be very slippery through the water whereas Maltese Falcon was based on an existing hull.”

In sea trials, the Black Pearl has achieved 21 knots “I’m confident we can go a lot faster than that,” adds Gartner. The yacht’s performance in light airs especially is excellent. The Black Pearl has various propulsion options: sail, full diesel, diesel-electric. The yacht can also generate electricity by dragging its variable pitch propeller through the water to recharge the batteries.

The Black Pearl uses very little fuel. In sea trials, says Gartner, “ she sailed for a few hours using almost a full house load without burning any fossil fuel. That’s amazing on a yacht of this size! We have to maintain pretty good boat speed to generate enough electricity to run the house loads.”

So why are there so few Dynarig yachts?

“To be frank, because most sailing yacht owners are traditionalists and lack the courage,” says Gartner. “The more I work with these rigs, the more I’m convinced of their efficiency and safety. It’s also worth bearing in mind that SY Black Pearl’s sails are made of Dacron, which is not an exotic or expensive material. Because each mast has five sails, they’re also smaller than a conventional mainsail, so if a sail blows out you’re not talking megabucks to replace it.”