WestlawnMasthead27_Sept2013H.pub - page 4

The Masthead
A Brief History of Sailing Multihulls
Continued from page 1
The first wave saw settlers in Indo-
nesia, New Guinea and Australia
during the last Ice Age. Indeed,
between 50,000 and 35,000 BC, a
150 meter drop of the sea level
enabled the Sunda and Sahul peo-
ples to progress towards the East
and South (in green on the chart).
In 4,000 BC, other peoples came
by way of the Taiwan Sea and in-
termingled with established popu-
lations. From 1,600 BC, this popu-
lation scattered throughout Micro-
nesia (the Marianas Islands, Mar-
will Islands, etc.) and later in Mela-
nesia. In 1,000, they reached west-
ern Polynesia including Fiji, Tonga,
Samoa (in blue on the chart).
Five centuries would pass before Polynesians would resume their migrations, spreading to Tahiti and the Marquesas Is-
lands. From these archipelagos, a new migratory wave started. Settlers are believed to have reached Hawaii and Easter
Island circa 400 AD. Meanwhile, migrations in the Indian ocean reach Madagascar and surrounding lands around the year
600. Finally, settlers make land on New Zealand around the year 700 (in orange on the chart).
As the explorers of the Old World first ventured into the Pacific, they were immediately baffled by the speed of the craft
they encountered there. They were even more surprised to realize that the same craft had been used to reach these dis-
tant islands at the far reaches of the largest ocean.
If Pifagetta did not elaborate much on describing the proa he saw at the Ladrones islands (modern-day Marianas), his ac-
count is an entertaining read. Thomas Cavendish also travelled there and was impressed by the number of these craft. In
1616, Jacob Le Maire gave a picturesque description of the catamarans that he came across in the Tonga Islands. In
1686, William Dampier measured their speed, assessing that these craft, "are the fastest in the World, setting 18 knot
averages over hundreds of miles."
When William Funnell sailed about the Pacific is-
lands in 1705, he sketched a fanciful "flying proa",
while Woodes Rogers disassembled one and put it
on display six years later in Saint James Park, in
London. The first actual plans (featured above),
though full of inaccuracies, was drafted by Piercy
Brett in 1742 while serving on George Anson's voy-
age around the world. It appears that it was excep-
tionally difficult for Europeans to understand how
these sailing craft operate. François-Edmond Pâris's
works were the first to cover the subject in depth
when they were published in 1839, followed by
those of James Hornell (1936) and Jean Neyret
(between 1959 and 1976).
Here we will discuss six types of pirogues that best
describe the rich, versatile and inventive minds of
these seafaring peoples. (Pirogues are traditional
dugout canoes, with or without outriggers.)
The first of the craft to be discovered were the proa
of the Islas Ladrones (nowadays Marianas), a thou-
Sept. 2013 Page 4
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