Mareinoa: a proa for cruising

02 January 2016     Editor    6 Comments.

A report on a new cruising proa build by Manfred Meier, designed by Othmar Karschulin of Thanks to Manfred and Othmar for the submission! —Editor

I became aware of the proa when reading a book about multihulls, named “Mehrrumpfboote” (multihulls)  written by Klaus D. Kurtz. I expected that this book would deal with catamaran and trimarans only. But instead it started with a report of William Dampier, one of the earliest European circumnavigators. He described that already in 1686 proas sailed 1200sm within only four days.

I was and I am still fascinated from the principle of a flying proa that under wind load the ama is lifted and so the draft is reduced.  Because I have always been an enthusiastic boat builder I built the P5, a 5m proa designed by Othmar Karschulin. I made exciting experiences and trips with this boat and so I designed and built a second proa.

However, the experience with these boats told me that the design (asymmetric hull, no daggerboard, crabclaw rig) is not appropriate for a modern cruising yacht. So our idea, Othmars and mine, was to combine the advantages of the typical proa characteristics with modern assets. Beside the innovative material it was the leepod, the daggerboard and the rig that considers modern technologies and the mentioned requirements.

The composite construction allows the low displacement, the leepod provides good interior space (standing height 2m, double berth 1.95mx2m) and also protects from capsizing. The daggerboard enables us to point upwind well, and the rig to handle it very easily. After almost two seasons I am happy to say that our expectations have been met.

Beside the fact that a proa of this size is not a normal boat, the A-mast situated lengthwise is, at least to my knowledge, unique. The reason to build the mast in this way is to get a large cockpit without an annoying mast in the middle.

When sailing I am always impressed by the course stability. I remember one trip when I did not touch the tiller for more than one hour. Furthermore it is incredible how quiet and calm is the boat’s motion while underway. On one of the photos you see a post card. I put it there at the beginning of the season and it did not fall over during the whole summer and under all weather conditions.

The boat leads to a lot of new contacts. If you are not communicative by nature, you will become so with this boat. Almost always people stand in front of the boat and ask what this exotic thing may be and how all the features may work. One time a couple walked the whole harbor in order to visit. They first saw only the strange form of the A-mast in the forest of masts, they could not imagine what this could be but in any way it must have been very exciting. Another time a sailor asked us when we would be departing, because he wanted to follow us to see the boat in action and take some pictures. 

Right from the beginning of the project it was clear that shunting would mean some effort. You have to roll up the genoa then to turn around the main, to lift the first rudder, to lower the second rudder and to roll out the second genoa. At the moment this maneuver takes almost one minute. With two well skilled people I guess it might be possible to come down to 30 seconds but still it is not comparable to tacking of a monohull. Especially when you take into consideration that the boat comes to a stop. So sailing in narrow waters will not be the preferred trip with this boat (which is no real surprise). That is a pity because there are some nice sounds around our home port Boltenhagen in the southern Baltic.

In light winds the speed is quite considerable. I measured 4.4 - 5.6 knots at 1.8 - 3.1 knots true wind. At 5-6 knots true wind the boat speed was between 6 and 9.3 knots. All this data were taken on a course close to the wind. But because of the relatively high speed this means 90 degrees to the true wind.


  • LOA: 11.95 m
  • Beam: 6.9 m
  • Draft, board up: 0.45 m
  • Draft board down: 1.5 m
  • Sail Area: genoa 27.5 m², main 27.5 m²
  • Displacement: 2.2 t, load 0.6 t
  • Accommodations: two double berth 195×200 cm
  • Auxiliary: 15 hp outboard
  • Construction: composite
  • Youtube video of proa sailing.
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    04 Jan - 15:17


    Beautiful boat

    10 Jan - 17:47

    Rafael Francke

    Fast and good looking boat.

    21 Jan - 05:39

    Mark Thomasson

    Manfred, Great to hear that she is sailing well. I had wondered how the rig would perform (it easier to understand now we see photos). Do you manage to get good tension in all 3 roller reefing stays? Have you been out is stronger winds? Have carried out a lee-pod immersion test, or whilst sailing? Where is she based?

    23 Jan - 01:23


    Hi Mark, thanks for your interest. Regarding the tension of the stays that is a really good question because the system is obviously statically overdefined. I was worried quite a bit in before also, but it turned out to be no big problem. The tension of the main stay could be a little bit more but with the tension of the forestays I am absolutely satisfied. For several reasons we did not sail in strong winds. What we do have are some shallow areas close to our home base (by the way Boltenhagen, Germany, in the south west baltic) which create really unpleasant waves. Highly at the wind at low speed sailing became quite uncomfortable because the small hull pitched heavily in the waves. But what it made uncomfortabel was not the movement (note the post card in my report), only the noise. No, we did no lee-pod immersion tests. Also whilst sailing the lee-pod was always far away from dipping. What I heard from tests of a similar boat is, that even at 90 degrees there is still a righting moment. You are right, it would be really interesting to test this.

    25 Feb - 03:22


    She is a great looking proa ,very neat. Great size cockpit and how it comes apart. I've started my own project building a Pacific proa and am interested if you have advice now you have finished and tested her .Did you use composite for your cross beams ? They look great . thanks from Dean

    26 Feb - 12:12


    Hi Dean, yes, for the cross beams we used composite. Only for the flanges we used steel. Which advice could I give? Well, regarding the A-mast it is to early to come to a final assessment. Therefore I would like to gain more experience. Beside of that I would build the boat in the same manner, which is, by the way, the biggest compliment I could pay Othmar, the designer of the boat. That even more because it is a prototype. Just some details I would change. The hulls and the crossbeams are removable. That was because the boat was built far away from the coast. But this makes it more complex and heavier. The main stay I would place more to windward, to reduce the backwind from the genua into the main. Last but not least I would place the controller of the main on a rack in order to mount a boom vang. Good luck with your project