It was built after the Dynaship or Dyna-Rigg concept, a 1960 invention of the German engineer Wilhelm Prölss which was intended to operate commercial freight sailing ships with as few crew as possible. The ship has fifteen square sails (five per mast), stored inside the mast; they can fully unfurl into tracks along the yards in six minutes. The three carbon fiber masts, which are free-standing and able to rotate, were manufactured and assembled by a company financed by Perkins at the Perini Navi Istanbul Yildiz Gemi (star ship) yard in Tuzla, 50 miles south of Istanbul, Turkey, under the supervision of the English company Insensys and Dutch company Gerard Dijkstra & Partners. Other design was provided by Ken Freivokh Design. The Falcon was the third yacht built by Perini for Perkins.
The yacht is easily controlled and has been seen to sail off her anchor and away from berths within harbors. The yacht's sophisticated computer detects parameters such as wind speed automatically and displays key data, however Kristenson does not permit the computer to actually sail the yacht. An operator must always activate the controls, yet it is possible for a single person to pilot the yacht. In a radio interview for the BBC World Service's Global Business programme broadcast in December 2007, Perkins revealed that he personally wrote some of the yacht's unique control software.
The Falcon has two 1800 horse-power Deutz engines running at 1800 rpm with a top speed of 20 knots with minimal wave-making and virtually no vibration or noise and with a smooth and non-turbulent wake.
The yacht has a permanent crew of 18 to maintain the technical aspects including the rig and to operate the onboard "hotel", which can accommodate twelve guests plus four guest staff. The boat also includes an onboard gourmet chef and stewards and stewardesses.
As of 2006 the Falcon is registered in Valletta, Malta. It completed its trial sail in the Sea of Marmara to the Bosphorus strait on 12 June 2006, and made its maiden voyage from Turkey to Italy via Malta in July 2006. As of 2006 S/Y Perkins rents the Falcon out for between € 325,000 to 335,000 per week plus expenses.
Lusso Magazine ran a cover feature on the Maltese Falcon in their January 2008 edition where they reported that yacht brokers Edmiston and Company were the first to set up a charter – for "a piffling €350,000 per week. This price includes a crew of 16, but you still have to pay for food and wine".
In a 60 Minutes profile on November 4, 2007, Perkins suggested the yacht cost more than $150 million but less than $300 million, but refused to be more specific.
The DYNARIG owes its origin to work done in the sixties by Mr W. Prolls, at the time he believed the system could provide additional propulsion for ships. The DynaRig is effectively a square rig, the mast is freestanding and the yards are connected rigidly to the mast, in this case each mast supports six yards. The yards, unlike a conventional square rigger, have built in camber of 12%. The sails set between the yards in such a way that when deployed there are no gaps to the sail plan enabling each spar's sail plan to work as a single sail. The sails, when not deployed, furl into the mast. The sail is trimmed to the wind direction by rotating the mast. As there is no rigging the yards have no restriction on rotation and this taken together with the curved (shaped) yards, low windage and effective single piece sail combine to give the rig improved aerodynamic efficiency compared to a traditional square rigger.
The Masts are approximately 58m in height above the bottom bearing. The DynaRig concept calls for an elongated section (to reduce the drag) and this needs to be symmetrical as the rig can be tacked to allow flow in both directions, the mast rotates about deck and heel bearings.
Insensys have also incorporated their fiber optical strain monitoring system that monitors the loads on the rigs to ensure that the carbon structures are never overloaded whilst the yacht is sailing. The Fiber Bragg grating system was embedded within the rigs during manufacturing process of the carbon structure. The system monitors the strains in real time and transmits the loads to the bridge such that they are understood whilst sailing.
The Maltese Falcon is currently listed for sale on Yachtworld.com (see external links). The asking price is EUR€115,000,000. As of 2008 engine hours were listed at 1890 hours.
Recently the Maltese Falcon was involved in a collision with a 40 foot sloop whilst sailing in support of the Leukemia Cup.