Day of the seafarer

On Sailor’s Day, we remember that the art of navigation originated in Polynesia. These boats would have won any regatta not long ago.

Segeln im polynesischen Stil auf einem Proa (Mehrrumpf-Ausleger-Segelboot) vor den Deboyne Inseln, Papua-Neuguinea. Das für Polynesien typische Prau ist ein hochseetaugliches Segelboot mit Deltaflügel und einem Ausleger, der immer auf der dem Wind zugewandten Luv-Seite liegt  / © Foto: Georg Berg
Polynesian style sailing on a proa (multihull outrigger sailboat) off the Deboyne Islands, Papua New Guinea. The prau, typical of Polynesia, is an ocean-going sailboat with delta wings and an outrigger that is always on the windward side facing the wind / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Polynesians have had the reputation as the most perfect sailors for ages. Even today, they are admired by modern sailors for their talent. Sailing in a classic outrigger sailboat is an unforgettable experience. Until recently, the traditional prau boats could rival the fastest high-tech boats in the Americas Cup. The reason is thought to be the special aerodynamics of the triangular delta sail, also known as the crab scissors sail. It is hard to believe that this technology was invented 10,000 years ago in the South Seas.

Die Besatzung eines Praus besteht aus mindestens drei Personen. Eine bestimmt hinten den Anstellwinkel des Segel. Ein anderes Besatzungsmitglied steuert durch Gewichtsverlagerung. Mit einem losen Paddel kann geringfügig mitgesteuert werden / © Foto: Georg Berg
The crew of a prau consists of at least three people. One determines the angle of attack of the sail at the back. Another crew member steers by shifting weight. A loose paddle can be used to steer slightly / © Photo: Georg Berg
Das dritte Besatzungsmitglied eines Praus kümmert sich um die Spitze des Segels. Da das Boot längssymmetrisch ist, werden Heck und Bug beim Richtungswechsel ausgetauscht. Auf dem Bild wird die Segelspitze umgetragen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The third crew member of a prau takes care of the tip of the sail. Since the boat is longitudinally symmetrical, the stern and bow are exchanged when changing direction. In the picture the tip of the sail is transferred / © Photo: Georg Berg


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