Aloha. The first sailing canoes emerged in ancient Polynesia over 1,000 years ago and
were as important to ancient Polynesian culture as the invention of the wheel was in
early Asian and European Civilizations. In Oceania, Polynesians used catamarans and
outrigger canoes to settle some of the world's most far-flung islands.
There are various forms and types of sailing canoe. The most basic type is known as
the “vaka”, a single hull fishing canoe. Often an “ama” (or pontoon) is attached to the
vaka to provide stability. Today’s catamaran comes from the “wa’a wa’a”, which literally
means in Hawaiian “two canoes tied together”. The wa’a wa’a had one or two sails and
could be wind or paddle driven.
Both the vaka and wa’a wa’a were met by a degree of skepticism from Western sailors
who were more accustomed to "traditional" mono-hull designs. The concept of a multihull vessel was completely alien and strange to them with its balance based on
geometry rather than weight distribution. Over time, multi-hulled vessels have arguably
become the best design for faster ferries, because of their speed, stability and large