Polynesian multihull terminology

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A typical fishing canoe (va'a) of Samoa, showing a simple ama for balance.

Polynesian multihull terminology , such as "ama", "aka" and "vaka" (or "waka"") are multihull terms that have been have been widely adopted beyond the South Pacific, where catamarans and proas originated. This Polynesian terminology is in common use in the Americas and the Pacific but is almost unknown in Europe, where the anglo-saxon terms "hull" and "outrigger" form normal parlance.

"Ama", "aka" and "vaka"[edit]

The term ama is a word in the Polynesian and Micronesian languages to describe the outrigger part of a canoe to provide stability. Today, among the various Polynesian countries, the word ama is often used together with the word vaka (Cook Islands) or waka (Māori) or va'a (Samoa Islands, Tahiti), cognate words in various Polynesian languages to describe a canoe.

The Polynesian term vaka is the main hull, the ama is the outrigger, and the aka or iako (Hawaiian) is the support connecting the two (not three) hulls. The term ama and aka have been widely applied to modern trimarans.

In modern sailing, the term is sometimes used to refer to the outrigger on a proa or trimaran, or the two sections of a catamaran. However, calling the two sections of a catamaran by the word ama is not technically correct since they are of equal size. A catamaran is technically a wa'a wa'a or double canoe connected by an aka.[1]

Function[edit]

On a proa, the ama may provide lift or ballast, depending on whether it is designed to be used to leeward or windward; on a trimaran it is designed primarily to provide lift. There are many shapes of ama; those used in proas are generally laterally symmetric, as the proa is designed to sail with either end forwards, while trimaran ama are one-directional and may have no axis of symmetry.

The most advanced ama are composed of highly curved surfaces which generate lift when driven forward through the water, much like an airplane wing. This lift may be directed to the windward, used to counter slipping to leeward, or may be oriented vertically to counter heeling forces from the sailing rig. These highly curved structures are much more difficult to manufacture than traditional ama and are therefore more expensive. The Bruce foil is an example of a type of leeboard often attached to an ama to assist in producing lift.

Use of the term in other cultures[edit]

The term waka, like the related terms aka and ama, are also used in Malay and Micronesian language group. A proa consists of a waka or wa'a, the main canoe-like hull; an ama, the outrigger; and aka, the poles connecting the ama to the vaka. The trimaran uses the same terminology, with a center vaka and ama and aka on each side.[2]

The aka of a multihull sailboat is a member of the framework that connects the hull to the ama(s) (outrigger). The term aka originated with the proa, but is also applied to modern trimarans.

"A primer on proas". Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-30. </ref>

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[edit]

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. [3]

A doubled hulled vaka in Rarotonga.

The vaka is the main hull of a multihull vessel. "A primer on proas". Retrieved 2007-10-30. </ref>

The term vaka comes from the pronunciation of the word waka and is derived from Polynesian, Malay and Micronesian languages for a 'canoe', 'ship' or 'boat.'

Other parts of a traditional vaka can include the aka and ama (outrigger).

A proa consists of a vaka, the main canoe-like hull; an ama, the outrigger; and akas, the poles connecting the ama to the vaka. The trimaran uses the same terminology, with a center vaka and amas and akas on each side. [4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rāwiri Taonui , Te Ara (4 March 2009). "Story: Canoe navigation - Waka – canoes'". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  2. ^ "The Tridarka Raider". Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  3. ^ "The Tridarka Raider". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  4. ^ "The Tridarka Raider". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2007-10-30.