WestlawnMasthead27_Sept2013H.pub - page 5

The Masthead
A Brief History of Sailing Multihulls
sand miles off New Guinea.
This model is chosen from a drawing by
Piercy Brett, twelve meters in length,
featuring one double-ended dugout hull
with two side boards and with two sym-
metrical bows on either end. The boat is
sewn over with a watertight fabric (a
skin) that covered the side boards and
the bows. The mast was maintained
upright by a strut stepped where the
longitudinal stringers meet on the wind-
ward outrigger. The mast was also held
in position by a shroud fastened in the
same place. During tacks (or conversely
gybes), the sail was moved from forward
to aft by swiveling the mast, and the
paddle on the opposite bow would then
serve as a rudder. The hull could be
made of several parts and overlaid side
planks. According to navigational needs,
they sometimes featured a platform on
the crossbeams. In other cases, a sec-
ond outrigger was used opposite, with a
wider platform. The asymmetry of the hull and outrigger was remarkable in its improvement of the craft's upwind perform-
ance. The outrigger was held in position by a vertical peg bound by a lashing to each crossbeam. George Anson pointed out
that these pirogues, "are able to sail close the wind better than any other known vessel," an astounding observation given
that the design of these boats was 3,000 years old!
The diversity of the rigs found on sailboats in
the Bismarck and the Louisiade Archipela-
gos, illustrated above and below with two
large proas, indicates strong influence from
These sails can also be found on ancient
sculptures on Java. Without bringing up any
controversy on the original inventor of the
rigid wing sail, these particular ones were
made of braided leaves, and therefore were
rather stiff. The whole sail could swivel
around its fastenings at the top of the masts,
creating optimal lift depending on strength
and incidence of the wind.
These proas typically measured 10 to 15
meters in length, but larger ones between
18 and 25 meters were also built, serving
mainly for long passages or for ceremonial
use. The masts were also held in position by
rounded buttresses and by forestays fas-
tened upwind on the outrigger. A Louisiade
“Lia-No,” with a distinctive elliptical sail, also
featured flaring and clinker-built topsides
that greatly reduced deckwash. The semi-
circular sections of the hull were also a per-
fect example of wetted surface reduction.
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