Tom Perkins' high-tech clipper, the Maltese Falcon, is completely over-the-top. The 74-year-old venture capitalist — founder of Kleiner Perkins, backer of tech giants such as Compaq, and master of corporate intrigue — spent $130m on the yacht. It's as long as a football field, 20 stories high to the top of its three masts and, unlike most sailing boats, which require an army of deckhands to turn, it's ultramodern and largely automated.In short, writes David Kaplan in his forthcoming book on the Maltese Falcon, the "greatest sailing machine ever built", and its insane creator: "If Darth Vader had an intergalactic yacht, this is what it would look like ." Darth Vader, though, with a sense of humor. When the Maltese Falcon launched, last year, Perkins had the pennants semaphore this self-aware message: "Rarely does one have the privilege to witness vulgar ostentation displayed on such a scale."