The traditional ppao of Tonga.
Hawaiiloa, a double hull sailing canoe built as a replica of Polynesian voyaging canoes.
Outrigger canoes were originally developed by the Austronesian speaking peoples of the islands of Southeast Asia for sea travel, and were used to transport these peoples both eastward to Polynesia and New Zealand and westward across the Indian Ocean as far as Madagascar during the Austronesian migration period. Even today, it is mostly among the Austronesian groups (Malay, Micron 00004000 esian, Melanesian and Polynesian peoples) that outrigger canoes are used.
Outrigger fishing canoes are also used among certain non-Austronesian groups, like the Sinhala in Sri Lanka, where they are known as oruwa, as well as among some people groups in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The ethnological significance of this spread has been studied by James Hornell.
When Magellan's ships first encountered the Chamorros of the Mariana Islands in 1521, Antonio Pigafetta recorded that the Chamorros' sailboats far surpassed Magellan's in speed and maneuverability.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society has two double hull sailing canoes, Hklea and Hawaiiloa, and sails them between various islands in the Pacific using traditional Polynesian navigation methods without instruments.
The technology has persisted into the modern age. Outrigger canoes can be quite large fishing or transport vessels, and in the Philippines, outrigger canoes (called bangka, parao or balanghai) are often fitted with petrol engines. The links between seafaring and outrigger canoes in the Philippines extend through to political life, in which the smallest political unit in the country still called Barangay after the historical Balangai outrigger proas used in the original migrations of the first Austronesian peoples across the archipelago and beyond.
Modern sport use
Outrigger canoe racing has become a popular canoeing sport, with numerous clubs located around the world. Outrigger Canoe Racing is the State sport of Hawaii and an interscholastic high school sport. In Hawaii entire families participate in summer regattas with age groups from manini (children as young as 6 with an adult steersperson) and age 12 through age 60+.
Major races in Hawai'i include the Molokai Hoe (43mi/69km men's race from the island of Molokai to Oahu across the Kaiwi Channel), Na Wahine O Ke Kai (same race for women) and the Queen Liliuokalani Race held near Kona on the Island of Hawaii.
Racing outrigger canoes. The canoe in the front right, with a narrower hull and smaller body, is a single person outrigger canoe, or OC1. The other canoes are six person outrigger canoes, or OC6.
Six person outrigger canoes (or OC6) are among the most common used for sport use; single person outrigger canoes (or OC1) are also very common. Two and four person outrigger canoes are also sometimes used, and two six person outrigger canoes are sometimes rigged together like a catamaran to form a twelve person double canoe.
Modern OC6 hulls and amas are commonly made from glass-reinforced plastic. However, some canoes are made of more traditional materials. In Ancient Hawaii, canoes were carved from the trunks of very old koa trees. These canoes, although rare, are still very much in use today. The iako are usually made of wood; the iako-ama and iako-hull connections are typically done with rope wrapped and tied in interlocking fashion to reduce the risk of the connection coming completely apart if the rope breaks.
Modern OC1 hulls and amas are commonly made from glass-reinforced plastic, carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and/or Kevlar to produce a strong but light canoe. OC1 are often made with rudders operated by foot pedals. More traditional designs do not have rudders. OC1 commonly use iako made of aluminium, with a mechanism for quickly assembling and disassembling the canoe (snap buttons, large wing nuts, etc.).
Ama and Aka
^ Gerhard Kapitn, Records of native craft in Sri Lanka: The single outrigger fishing canoe oruwaart 2.2: Rowed, paddled and poled oru, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Vol. 18
^ Irenus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Land of a Thousand Atolls: A Study of Marine Life in the Maldive and Nicobar Islands, World Publishing Co., Cleveland and New York, 1964.
Gary Dierking (2007) Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes, McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-148791-7
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Outrigger canoes
Polynesian Voyaging Society
Takia Outrigger Canoe Club Fiji
Northern California Outrigger Canoe Association
Hawai'i Association and Race Links
Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association
Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race (Kai 'Opua)
Na Wahine O Ke Kai
Japan Outrigger Canoe Network
World of Boats at Eyemouth ~ Outrigger Canoes:
Tongan Pao Pao
Traditional Papuan Single Outrigger
Original Outrigger Canoe (Drua) in the Fiji Museum
An Introduction to Outrigger Canoe Paddling
Orchid Outriggers - Experience photo tours in handmade outrigger canoes on the central coast of California.
An interactive for kids featuring a traditional outrigger canoe commissioned by the National Museum of Australia