More on the P5 Proa

The P5 proa is a small outrigger sailboat. It is 17 feet long overall, measured along its longest hull. It is nine feet in width overall, but each hull itself is only a foot and a quarter wide. This boat is approximately 160 pounds without passengers or cargo. It is steered by bodyweight and a steering oar, which can also be used to scull in light air. Because there is no leeboard or daggerboard the P5 can be sailed in very shallow waters.


The proa traditionally is a multihull vessel with a main hull, waka, outrigger, ama, and rigging. The larger main hull has an advantage over a catamaran because a greater speed can be reached while maintaining a comparable weight and cost. As the windward hull lifts up the leeward hull is able to provide a comfortable ride with minimal wetted surface, reducing drag and allowing the boat to travel at extremely high speeds and handle large ocean waves well. The two hulls of a proa are connected with crossbeams that are less stressed that the beams on a traditional catamaran of the same displacement. However because of the nature of the windward hull to lift the proa is slightly less stable than a traditional multihull boat.


The P5 proa is designed to be constructed from plywood in a stich and glue method as opposed to the strip plank construction of the T2. Its small size and low weight allow this boat to be transported on top of a car. The main hull has three parts: lee plank, luff plank up and luff plank down. Every plank can made from mirrored halves of 4mm plywood. For more stability a keel batten can be used as a backbone. Both hulls have a very hard chine. The two hulls are connected with lightweight crossbeams while stringers in the hull sides provide weight and stability. A windsurfing mast with tarp sails could be used with this boat because the proa can use sails that are smaller and don’t require any shaping unlike a catamaran, and would be able to sail with better performance. Crab claw sails are typically used with Pacific proa boats. The P5 proa is steered by moving the human ballast along the sitting plank to change the displacement. A steering oar can also be used when body movements aren’t enough to change direction. The rig functions like a seesaw. By changing the bow after shunting you pull down the yard with the sail to the new bow.


The P5 proa is a very fast and light boat and although its length in a regular catamaran would be able to have accommodations, even the larger main hull of this proa would not be able to fit anyone comfortably, or not comfortably. This design could also only carry up to two passengers at a time and it is not designed to carry heavy loads, but the two people would be able to sail very fast. Because the shape of the hull doesn’t require any boards or foil it is able to sail in very shallow waters. This would work well for sailing in the bay and other extremely shallow bodies of water.


This boat is very pleasing to look at. It is more interesting than a standard multihull and has a lot of history. The boat is pointed on both ends because it shunts when it changes tacks; the stern becomes the bow and vice versa. Proas will sometimes have a leeboard for resistance but they don’t traditionally have a daggerboard or centerboard because there isn’t an effective place to put one. The P5 doesn’t have a leeboard because of its relatively small size.


The P5 in action


4 sheets 4×8 plywood – $100

Lumber for seat and rails – $30

Fiberglass tape and cloth – $60

Epoxy – $100

Peel ply – $15

Microballoons – $20

2 gallons of paint – $70

Windsurfer mast and tarp sail – $200

1 oarlock and oar- $45

Sailing line and hardware – $40

Total: $690

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