This clip was taken about 15 minutes after the first launch, from Andreas’ lancha. (See the previous post “Launch!” for a full description of this momentous day). There is hardly any wind yet just after shunting sail for the very first time she made 10.2 kmph, or so said the GPS.
You may find it puzzling that instead of using the steering oar to turn around I move the sail from one end of the boat to the other and start going ”backwards”. This is the big peculiarity of the Pacific flying proa, and the reason is that it is important when sailing this type of vessel to always ensure that the wind comes in over the ama, or outrigger float. If the ama was to leeward (on the downwind side) it would be pushed under water by the force of the wind on the sail; it does not have the buoyancy to cope. So why not just have two large hulls and navigate in the normal way? Well, three main reasons: Firstly, weight. Two large hulls would weigh much more than one big, one small. Secondly, with the one big hull, one small hull arrangement, the maximum stress on the cross-members linking the two hulls is only that which is required to lift the ama out of the water, or to push it beneath, both easily done. On a regular catamaran, with both hulls in different waves, the stress on the connection is very large: it is speculated that the Polynesians avoided the catamaran arrangement because they lacked metal fastenings and it was very difficult for them to secure the cross-members adequately using lashings of coconut fiber. Thirdly, with a Pacific flying proa it is easy to “fly the ama” ie. sail the boat balanced with the ama out of the water, thus reducing drag and increasing speed.The Pacific flying proa is the fastest of all traditional sailing boat types. And it’s just plain funky.