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Published on Jan 16, 2011
Sri Lankan fishermen using a wind powered PROA for their work on the Indian Ocean. Thanks to the large sail and good winds this boat is fast gliding over the sea. A proa, prau or perahu (also seen as prahu) is a type of multihull sailing vessel.While the word perahu and proa are generic terms meaning boat their native language, proa in Western languages has come to describe a vessel consisting of two (usually) unequal length parallel hulls. It is sailed so that one hull is kept to windward, and the other to leeward, so that it needs "shunt" to reverse direction when tacking. The English term proa most likely specifically refers the South Pacific proa as detailed by the analysis of a Micronesian proa by the British ship The Centurion..The perahu traditional outrigger boat is most numerous in the various islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. These differ from the South Pacific vessels. Traditional proas superficially resemble outrigger canoes, but have a buoyant lee hull and a denser, ballasted hull to windward for stability.The modern proa exists in a wide variety of forms, from the traditional archetype still common in areas described, to high-technology interpretations specifically designed for breaking speed-sailing records.The word proa comes from perahu, the word for "boat" in Indonesian (paraw in similar Borneo-Philippine languages), which are similar to the Micronesian language group.Found in many configurations and forms, the proa was likely developed as a sailing vessel in Micronesia (Pacific Ocean). Variations may be found as distant as Madagascar and Sri Lanka, as far back as the first century. Such vessels go by many names, and "perahu" is a generic umbrella term for any boat smaller than a ship.The so-called "proa" was documented by the Spanish Magellan expedition to the Philippines circa 1519 CE. It entered English lexicography later. The use of the term proa in English with reference to the Micronesian craft dates back to at least 1742.The first illustrations known to Europeans appeared around the middle 19th century in Europe, ushering in a period of interest in the design. Working from the drawings and descriptions of explorers, western builders often took liberties with the traditional designs, merging their interpretation of native designs with Western boatbuilding methods. Thus this Western "proa" often diverged radically from the traditional "proa" to the point that the only shared feature was the windward/leeward hull arrangementThe main hull of the proa is known as the vaka, the outrigger as the ama, and the outrigger supports as the akas. The terms vaka, ama, and aka have been adopted in Western sailing to describe the analogous parts in trimaran.(Wikipedia)