First of the 500

28 February 2018     Editor    5 Comments.

The 500 Sails Project has launched their first wapa. The Sakman Neni is a modern recreation of a traditional Mariana sailing canoe - or flying proa - as documented by Anson in 1734. It employs a Derek Kelsall KSS method fiberglass composite hull combined with bamboo connectives and lashings.

The name “500 Sails” was inspired by the arrival of the Spanish galleon San Pedro at Guam in 1565, when it was met by the Chamorros in their sailing canoes:

We were no more than two leagues from [the island] when fifty or sixty proas under sail surrounded the fleet. These proas were furnished with lateen sails of palm mats and were as light as the wind…The day had scarcely begun when a great number of these proas appeared about us…more than four or five hundred around the ships…”
- Legazpi aboard the San Pedro, 1565

It is curious that the reconstruction apparently continues the error first recorded by Anson, that of maintaining a vertical mast. It is all but certain that the Mariana islanders followed the custom of the other proa building islanders - of canting their masts forward or aft during shunts.

I have to say I love the image of the launching ceremony with the Hobie Cat pulled up on the beach in the background. Full circle.

Thanks to Derek Kelsall for the link on the MHML.


 proas / pacific / boatbuilding 


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02 Mar - 12:01

Gary Dierking

I noticed on their latest photos of Neni that the mast is now tilted. No doubt on the advice of local sailors from the Caroline Islands.

03 Mar - 14:56


Nothing to do with the 500 Sails Project, per se, but thanks for setting up the photo gallery so that we can now scroll through the images. Appreciated!

03 Mar - 16:42


Gary: Thanks for the update. Aerohydro: Thanks for noticing. Proafile strives to to remain abreast with the latest in website user enhancements. *cough*

29 Mar - 06:12

Wade Tarzia

What a lovely hull. What is the function of the upswept ends?

29 Mar - 13:41

Gary Dierking

It gives great confidence when you slide into the trough of a long Pacific swell.