Recently a friend came across an amazing video showing the art and culture of Marshallese Proas. These artful craft are not one of the oldest sailing designs but as of today show a level of sophistication that can hardly be matched by current foiling wing masted multihulls. Interestingly Marshalles talk about the “kindness” (or fineness ) of these canoes – which is the “responsibility” to carry people and cargo. The nobility of canoe design and building seems to be culturally linked via terminology. The skillfully built craft that have a 2500 year old tradition are what us multihull sailors call Pacific Proas with a Lateen rig. Simple paddles as steering. Just amazing – the completely asymmetric main hull and simplicity of the shunting rig.
“The Marshall Islands piece is particularly moving. Their traditional navigational arts and canoe building skills have come within a hair’s breadth of extinction. Makes me want to drop everything, head out there, and contribute to the revival of these arts before the islands are underwater. If only it were that simple! I think it’s hard for an outsider to embrace these things without diluting the culture and destroying the very things you wish to preserve”
So here comes the question: Can a 2000 year Proa sail faster than the wind ? –