The design of the aka depends on the forces it will encounter when sailing. For example, there are two modern variations of the proa, the traditional or Pacific proa, with the ama to the windward side, and the modern Atlantic proa, with the ama to the leeward. The windward ama provides stability by placing the center of gravity far to the windward of the sail, so it is generally heavy. Ropes leading from the mast to the ama provide the force to lift the ama, so the aka must contend mainly with compressive forces, and the weight of the crew, who generally ride on a platform running between the aka.
An Atlantic proa or a trimaran rely on an ama to leeward to provide stability. The ama provides stability by moving the center of buoyancy to the leeward side, and well designed leeward amas will also provide dynamic lift to increase the stability further. The aka for a leeward ama must be designed to handle significant amounts of torque from the lift produced by the ama. Often trimarans will have a platform between the aka, so the crew can ride out on the windward side. While this is not truly necessary from a stability point of view (the ama generally provides a tremendous amount of lift) it does reduce the drag generated by the leeward ama.
Origin and use of the term
The term waka, like the related terms aka and ama, come from the Malay and Micronesian language group terms for parts of the outrigger canoe, and waka can be roughly translated as canoe. A proa consists of a waka, the main canoe-like hull; an ama, the outrigger; and aka, the poles connecting the ama to the waka. The trimaran uses the same terminology, with a center wa'a or waka, ama on each side, and aka connecting the three hulls.