Book Review: Mine’s Bigger

Every active skipper takes at least a little pride in their sailboat. That is, if you exclude the owners of those few derelict, abandoned sailboats you can find in any year-round marina. A sailboat is a beautiful, graceful, piece of moving art that almost everyone appreciates.

But what happens when pride goes over the top, into the realm of the absurd, almost to beyond belief? Mine’s Bigger is the account of billionaire Tom Perkins’ $130 million quest to build the Maltese Falcon that was for a few years the biggest, fastest, most luxurious sailboat ever built.

Reading this book will make you feel like your production-built pride and joy isn’t fit to share the same harbor with Perkins’ megayacht.

Each of the tenders stationed on the bow are bigger than the average recreational sailboat

But the sheer ambition that went into building the Maltese Falcon is fascinating reading:

  • 289′ length overall
  • 41′ at the beam
  • 1,240 tons displacement
  • 2,400 square meters of sails furled in-mast and electronically deployed
  • Three 200′ tall carbon fiber, computer-controlled, rotating masts

And that’s just the beginning of the list of extraordinary specifications of this amazing vessel. The list of onboard toys alone is impressive:

  • Two 32′ Pascoe RIB tenders
  • Two Laser sailboats
  • Two Jet Skis
  • 14′ Castold Jet tender
  • Two Sea-Bobs
  • Two windsurfers
  • Two kayaks
  • Two stand-up paddle boards
  • Inflatable water slide
  • Inflatable swimming pool,
  • Banana boat
  • Private submarine
  • Assorted water skis, wake boards  knee boards, fishing rods, scuba diving gear, and snorkeling gear

As impressive as the sailboat he built, the story of Tom Perkins is just as compelling to read. Perkins started one of the first venture capital firms to finance Silicon Valley icons such as biotech pioneer Genentech, Netscape, and Google. After amassing billions of dollars and becoming one of the captains of high technology, he turned his sights to leaving his mark in history for building the largest privately-owned modern clipper ship ever.

Views of the Maltese Falcon bridge

Mine’s Bigger is expertly told by Newsweek senior editor David Kaplan, who weaves in-depth research, interviews, and in-person accounts to tell this larger than life story that is a mixture of ego, vision, and power. Yet even through all the wealthy hyperbole, you can’t help but feel a certain authenticity about Perkin’s quest. He wasn’t just another billionaire on an ego trip, he was also a life-long sailor who wanted to push the envelope of sailing itself by redefining what a sailboat could be. He took a very personal, hands-on approach to every detail of how the Maltese Falcon was built and how it performed.

The Maltese Falcon is no longer the biggest sailboat in the world and he has since sold it to pursue other challenges but it will stand in history as a unique accomplishment.

Reading Mine’s Bigger gives you an unprecedented look into the world of the rich and famous with a focus on the subculture of luxury among the sailing elite. If you enjoy reading about high tech entrepreneurship, if you enjoy reading about sailboat design and manufacturing, if you enjoy reading a good story well told, get your own copy of Mine’s Bigger.

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