Visionarry Cruiser 50

The Visionarry Cruiser developed from the need of a boat with good performance like Visionarry Sport but with longer trips in mind. The ‘Cruiser’ is the ‘Sport’ with the added comforts of a longer windward hull, extra motor, large airy saloon and a covered cockpit.


Leeward hull length: 15 m / 50′
Windward hull length: 10 m / 32’8
Beam: 8.3 m / 27′
Empty weight: 3.0 tonnes / 6,720 lbs
Payload approx: 1.7 tonnes / 3,808 lbs*
Sail area: 72sq m / 774 sq ft
Draft: Rudders Up 400 m / 1’5″
Draft: Rudders Down 1.5 m / 5’
Righting Moment: 18 tonne metres
Berths: Master Cabin 1 x queen size,
Second Cabin 1 x queen size,
1 x single in the windward hull;
2 x pipe cots in the leeward hull; also the option of converting saloon table to double berth.
Approximate Building Time: 4,500 hours. the cost price of materials for the Visionarry Cruiser Rare Bird including freight, wastage, taxes, motors, electronics, etc was $Aus85,000). Complete materials lists on new boats are notoriously difficult to calculate as each owner will have their own final specifications. Please check with Rob for the most current price.

*Note: additional payload (water/fuel tanks, small generator, batteries, stowage, personal gear, etc) can be added to the lee hull at the expense of speed.



The Visionarry Cruiser developed from the need of a boat with good performance like Visionarry Sport but with longer trips in mind. The ‘Cruiser’ is the ‘Sport’ with the added comforts of a longer windward hull, extra motor, large airy saloon and a covered cockpit. It also has more hard deck space and a very handy dinghy ramp. The master bedroom is separate, the second cabin houses a queen size berth, and the large galley has a 200 litre fridge/freezer. There is also a generous bathroom with a stand up shower, and a head complete with holding tank. The saloon seats seven at a dining table, and there is a large navigation table with a chart storage locker. Plenty of storage is provided out on the deck with lockers for anchoring gear, mooring lines, fuel, gas bottles etc. Two retracting 15HP outboards push the boat along at 8 knots and provide easy maneuverability in tight situations.

The Cruiser and the Sport models have the same leeward hull, rig, rudders etc. The windward hull on the Cruiser has greater buoyancy to carry the extra weight of cruising.

For further options on the Cruiser, please see the new Harryproa Cruiser series.

Visionarry Sport 50

The Visionarry Sport Blind Date specifications are correct, though difficult to believe. The materials list for a boat to sailing stage (not including freight, wastage, taxes, motors, electronics, etc) is approximately $Aus50,000.


Leeward hull length: 15 m / 50′
Windward hull length: 10 m / 32’8
Beam: 8.3 m / 27′
Empty weight: 2.2 tonnes / 4,928 lbs
Payload approx: 1.5 tonnes / 3,360 lbs*
Sail area: 72sq m / 774 sq ft
Draft: Rudders Up 400 m / 1’5″
Draft: Rudders Down 1.5 m / 5’
Righting Moment: 15 tonne metres
Berths: 2 x queen size and 1 x single in the windward hull; 2 x pipe cots in the leeward hull
Approximate Building Time: 3,500 hours

*Note: additional payload (water/fuel tanks, small generator, batteries, stowage, personal gear, etc) can be added to the lee hull at the expense of speed.

Design Details:

The Visionarry Sport Blind Date specifications are correct, though difficult to believe. The materials list for a boat to sailing stage (not including freight, wastage, taxes, motors, electronics, etc) is approximately $Aus50,000. Complete materials lists on new boats are notoriously difficult to calculate as each owner will have their own final specifications. Please check with Rob for the most current price. 

Blind Date, the first Visionarry Sport is the result of a very specific set of requirements. Jan Schippers, the boats owner, took blind people sailing in his Iroquois cat as well as using it extensively to take family and friends cruising along the Dutch coast. The Iroquois is a great boat (Rob Denney owned and cruised one for 5 years) but Jan needed something bigger, easier to handle and roomier. It also had to be fast. Blind people don’t like sailing slowly any more than sighted people.

The full list of specs and how they were met follows. Many of these are normal for harryproas, but some of the requirements and their solutions for unsighted crew required a fair bit of lateral thinking for which much of the credit goes to Jan.

Fast: Speed in light air is primarily about the ratio between wetted surface and sail area, in heavy air the important ratios are the Bruce number (power to weight ratio) and the sail carrying power (ratio of sail area*righting moment divided by the vertical distance between centre of effort and centre of lateral resistance).

Blind Date has a fully loaded wetted surface to sail area ratio of 4.2, which makes it very fast in light airs. A Bruce number empty of 2 (higher than an empty Formula 40 cat) and fully loaded with 8 people on board of 1.7 It has a sail carrying ratio of 53%, a very high ratio, making it more stable than a clunky cruising boat, yet with the performance of an out and out racer.

Easily handled: The Easy Rig and a central steering station mean that Jan is able to sail the boat single handed. There are 2 winches mounted close to the wheel to assist with sheet loads when the jib is not used. These can also double as anchor and halyard winches if required. Because Blind Date is so light, it is tremendously responsive. Blind and sighted sailors are be able to notice immediately the effect of sail trim or course alterations.

If it had a conventional stayed rig, Blind Date would lift a hull when the breeze hits 25 knots. Sensible cruising sailors would reef at 20 knots or less. However, because the rig is unstayed it bends considerably and at 25 knots the ww hull will still be firmly in the water. This element of safety makes an enormous difference in gusty conditions.

Spacious. The cockpit seats 8 people and has a cover over it to keep them dry. With a zip on plastic door to seal it completely and a removable table, the cockpit effectively becomes part of the accommodation. There is a huge shelf area behind the seats and around the hatch for mounting instruments and storing items necessary for sailing which must not get wet (charts, binoculars, radios, sandwiches, cups of tea etc). Inside is typical harryproa, with 2 big double bunks, a toilet and shower at one end and a single bunk at the other. Two shelves run the length of the hull on the windward side with storage between them. The galley is opposite the hatch so the cook stays in touch with the crew, and is in a well ventilated, minimal motion area. There are hatches over the bunks and toilet, and windows along the ww and lw sides of the hull.

Structure. Jan employed Rudolf van de Brug to build Blind Date. The boat had to be as light as possible, strong enough to withstand North Sea gales and easily built. Where the structure has to take significant fore and aft loads (the lee hull) it is cedar strip. Where there are large unsupported areas with little curvature (ww hull decks, bridge deck and sides) panels are built from foam and glass. These were made off the boat, using foam cut exactly to shape to minimise the large losses associated with buying ready made panels. Jan and Rudolph also built the rudders, mast, boom and beams, using carbon where applicable. They built all the fittings, mast, beams and boom using the low cost and easy techniques harryproa have developed, following the very easy to follow plans drawn by MarineCad Services. Blind Date took approximately 3,500 hours from start to bareboat launch.

Shallow draft. A lot of sailing in Dutch waters is done in very shallow water. It was essential that not only did Blind Date draw as little as possible (400mm/16″) but it had to be steerable at the same time, and the rudders had to kick up without damage in the event of running aground. Jan and Rudolph did not want a rudder protruding through the bottom of the boat. Hitting something at speed should not mean tearing the bottom out of the hull! The design meets all these specs and is cheap and easy to build.

Steering. The actual steering is done from inside or outside the cockpit depending on conditions, using one of two wood/glass wheels mounted either side of a pedestal. The wheels are lighter and cheaper than stainless ones. The steering lines are spectra and run outside the boat from rudders to wheels, to make maintenance easier. Many Dutch harbours are very small and very crowded. It was important that BD be able to maneuver in and out of very small spaces. For this reason, the two rudders can be used together if required at low speeds, giving the ability to crab the boat almost sideways.

Usability: This was an unusual requirement, but absolutely necessary for a crew of blind people. As well as all the normal Harryproa attributes, we added things like a walkway between cockpit and lee hull, and extended it along the lee hull between the beams; a rail down the middle of this walkway; a cut out in the cockpit cover providing full standing headroom in the cockpit, yet still keeping the wind and rain out; huge flat decks on the ww hull to make it easier to hang out fenders and raft up; flat topped beams for sitting on to fully enjoy the speed and spray; on deck stowage of anchors, lines and ropes and a totally uncluttered interior.

The motion is predictable and minimal. By keeping the crew near the fore and aft centre of the boat, the affects of pitching are minimalised. This is aided by the very high (0.76, compared with most cats in the 0.6-65 range) prismatic coefficient, which not only makes for higher speeds, it also minimises pitching.

Demountability: The cost and inconvenience of hard standing is well known. Far better to be able to take your boat apart, load the bits on a truck and take it home, or to a shed for the winter, or to work on it. Blind Date has tapered beams, pinned in place. To disassemble the boat the trampolines and walkway are removed, and the two hulls slid apart. This is a relatively simple operation on a boat that always has the weight to windward and is available on all harryproas.

The Harryproa Concept

It has long been observed that the main requirements of any boat are space, speed and low cost, and that while any two of these are possible in a particular boat, all three are not. However, if you are prepared to sail a boat that looks different, and requires a slightly different tacking technique, it can be done.

Harrys are definitely different! They are also the least possible boat for a given length, which also makes them potentially the fastest and lowest cost.

A quote from one of the guys who skippers Blind Date, a 15m/50′ harryproa that takes blind people sailing:
‘Once you sail a good multihull, you never want to go back to a monohull. Once you sail a good proa, you find other multihulls somewhat limited.’ 

As soon as we pulled in the sail and the Blind Date accelerated, these sailors were convinced that they were on a good ship. They enjoyed the shelter and the view, a combination that no other boat offers like the Blind Date. They see the ‘logic’ and the simplicity.

We talked about the feeling of space and freedom that is in the Visionarry design. The spirit of the designer, I’d say.
Harrys consist of two unequal, double ended hulls joined by a pair of beams. The rig and rudders are in the longer, slimmer hull which is always to leeward. The shorter, fatter hull contains the accommodation, galley, cockpit and other home comforts and is always to windward.

To sail one, you need a rig and rudders that will go in either direction. Instead of tacking, you shunt. Release the sheet and when the boat stops, rotate the rig and rudders through 180 degrees. The stern becomes the bow and you sail off in the opposite direction. The crew does not have to move.

Proas and shunting are not new, Pacific islanders have been shunting their proas for thousands of years. What is new, is applying it to a western style boat, and placing the accommodation in the windward hull. When I started playing with proas in the 1990’s, this was considered impossible, as the experts were convinced it would have uncontrollable weather helm. My first harry was 12m/40′ and it sailed like a dream.

Features that make harryproas superior to cats and tris:


They are lighter: A cedar strip/fibreglass 15m cruising harry with 2 queen size bunks, 2 singles, galley, toilet shower, table for 6, sheltered cockpit and nav table weighs less than 3 tonnes. A similar cat weighs twice as much. The result is that a much smaller rig and motors are required, the materials cost is almost halved and everything becomes smaller, lighter and cheaper. The latest boats are built from infused foam/fibreglass. The skins are lighter, stiffer, and there is less of them as the hulls have flat bottoms so can be lower and don’t need fitted floors and the frames and stringers associated with them.

The hulls each have a specific task and are designed accordingly. The lee hull supports the rig and rudders and is long and sleek to provide speed and pitch resistance. The windward hull needs no structure to support rigs, daggerboards and rudders, so can be much smaller and lighter with a much wider choice of layouts.

The rig is unstayed and made from carbon fibre. This is about the same cost, weight and windage as a stayed alloy mast, but there are no chainplates, travellers, jib tracks, turning blocks, seagull strikers, spinnaker poles or all the beefing up and fasteners these things require. Instead, the area around the mast and between the beams takes all the rig, beam and leeway loads so is built very strong, and the rest of the boat, which has no rig loads, very light. By contrast a cat with forestay, sidestay and traveller loads has to be strong from fore beam to traveller, plus an immense main bulkhead to resist all the compression loads.

No daggerboards, keels or centreboards. Leeway is resisted by oversize rudders, usually mounted on the beams. This solves all the problems inherent in a bi directional boat and many of the problems of mono directional ones. The rudders kick up in a collision or grounding and can be raised for shallow water or downwind. There are no holes in the hull to grow weed, leak or be damaged in an impact. To quote Nol from Blind Date again “Upwind I usually sail with the rear rudder at less than a 5-10 degree angle. There is one point when you can feel the boat is hard as stone: no drift because of the rear rudder, hulls moving straight through the water. The front rudder is used only to make very small corrections. Sometimes minutes go by without any correction. It is like meditation.”

Very shallow draft. The 15m/50’ter mentioned above draws less than 300mm/12”. The rudders will steer the boat at slow speeds at this depth.

No extra sails. The only sails required are the two mainsails on a schooner rig or the main and jib on the ballestron rig. These provide enough sail area for light air and downwind, while the auotmatic depowering of the rig keeps the upwind loads managable.

Very little metal. What fittings there are, are made from composites, usually carbon tow. The same material is used to make very stiff, strong and light beams, rudders, masts and booms. Tow is a very cheap form of carbon, which helps keep the costs down.

The lee hull is only for storage, so needs no internal finishing. Bunks and cockpit seats are included in the windward hull building process. Therefore they do not need to be built, bonded and tabbed in place.


They are very safe and easy to sail. The crew sits in the sheltered cockpit on the windward hull, able to see most of the horizon, including the danger zone which is usually blanketed by deck sweeping genoas. They never have to venture outside the beams onto pitching, wet foredecks.
The full ends, no rocker, centralised weight and location of the crew makes for a much more comfortable ride. The skipper, crew and passengers are all able to sit together, with very little effort and no movement required for gybes or tacks.
Sails on an unstayed rig can be hoisted lowered and reefed on any point of sail in any wind strength. This is safer, and much easier than having to luff head to wind.
Shunting is not only easy, it is low stress and can be reversed at any stage. There is no chance of getting in irons, no flogging sheets or traveller cars to catch unwary fingers, no picking the right time or surfing uncontrollably down a wave.
In a person (or hat) overboard situation, the boat can be stopped in seconds and sailed back to them, then stopped again to get them onboard.
There are two types of capsize for cats and tris. Sideways, usually when an unexpected squall hits and no one is on the sheet and pitchpoling, when the boat surfs uncontrollably down a wave. On a harry, depowering in a squall is automatic as the mast bends, feathering the sail and lowering the centre of effort. This allows you to set enough sail for the lulls and let the rig depower in the gusts. Conventional rigs are set up the opposite way and/or require constant attention to the sheets. Downwind, the sails can be eased all the way forward to slow the boat in big waves.
More righting moment: Harrys typically have 60% of the total weight in the ww hull. Cats have 50%. So, a 3 tonne harry has the same righting moment as a 3.6 tonne cat or tri.


Harryproas are much less prone to pitching than cats as the rockerless hulls have very high prismatic coefficients (the ratio of volume in the ends to volume amidships) and all the weight is concentrated amidships, which is also the pitch axis and the location of the crew. The rig also has a lower centre of gravity than a stayed rig. Sailing upwind, the bows of the hulls tend to meet the waves at the same time. This results in a monohull like motion (without the heeling!) rather than the corkscrewing motion typical of a catamaran.


Because harrys don’t have to tack, the hulls can be optimised for speed and reduced pitching, rather than turning ability. This has resulted in rockerless hulls, which are also far easier to build.


Harry prototypes have been built from everything except steel and aluminium. The first non prototype harrys were built from cedar strip, a well proven method of building light, stiff strong boats with lots of curves. However, it is very time consuming, and requires huge amounts of fairing. The latest boats are built from infused foam, either from flat panels on a table, or in a simple mould. (See FAQS)The time savings over strip planking are from 50-75%. The costs are lower (less waste, able to use vinylester resin) and the boat is lighter for the same strength. But the biggest gain is the lack of mess and sticky, toxic materials. Infusion keeps the fun part of boatbuilding, while removing the drudgery.

The unstayed rigs could be used on catamarans to achieve the handling gains, but for reasons unknown, very few of them are. Equally, catamarans could be built from infused panels, but apart from KSS boats, none are. The advantages are not quite so clear cut in this case, as the cat hulls have rocker, so need to be cut and forced into shape, then glassed, filled and faired.

The Proa History

A proa is a double hulled vessel with all or some of the following attributes:

  • The rig is mounted in or on a hull.
  • The hulls are frequently different lengths and shapes.
  • Steering and leeway prevention are also in one hull, generally but not always, the same one as the rig. Steering can be achieved by rudders, paddles, oars, crew movement and fore and aft movement of either or both of the centre of effort, or centre of lateral resistance. Leeway resistance can be provided by hull shape, leeboards, daggerboards or oversize rudders.
  • They are able to sail in either direction. This generally involves shunting (the equivalent of tacking or gybing, see diagram), although as with most things proa, there are numerous variations of this as well.

All these variations indicate that the ultimate proa is yet to be built.

Proas were probably the first improvement made to a floating log by early sailors. A second, smaller log was lashed to a cross beam to stop the main log capsizing. Rigs were added later when technology allowed. These boats have been scattered through the Pacific and Indian Oceans, where they have been undergoing development for hundreds of years. Consequently they are very highly developed for their conditions of use, and the materials they are built from. They sail in generally warm, trade wind conditions with crew who are not only fit and agile, but are superb seamen. They range in size from small models ballasted by baby coconuts up to large ocean crossing vessels capable of carrying a dozen people and their supplies for many weeks at sea.

However, they are by no means the end of the story. Our ancient Polynesian cousins had no access to epoxy, fibreglass and carbon plus they seldom had to sail upwind in less than idyllic conditions crewed by the wife and kids and driven by the need to be back at work by Monday morning. If they had, then their boats would be far different to what they are.

Western sailors have been slow to adopt proas. This is partly because until now they were difficult to manoeuvre, and partly, I suspect, because many people are unhappy with boats which are not symmetric fore an aft. They received a brief burst of publicity after the 1968 Singlehanded TransAtlantic Race (OSTAR) when the 12m/40′ proa Cheers achieved 3rd place. Cheers was designed by the legendary Dick Newick and was a masterpiece of elegant simplicity. It was sailed by Tom Follett, arguably the best, if not the highest achieving, yachtsman of his time. Cheers was different to traditional proas. It had the rig, rudders and accommodation in the windward hull and looked like a double ended trimaran with the windward float missing. The benefits of this set up are reduced weight, windage and stress of a second set of beams and a third hull and the weight of the rig and foils are all in the best place to enhance righting moment. To differentiate between traditional and Cheers type proas, Newick coined the term Atlantic Proa for proas with rigs, rudders and accommodation in the windward hull. By default, traditional proas scored the prefix, Pacific.

Cheers was schooner rigged, with heavy, wooden, unstayed masts. She was narrow by today’s standards at 4m/13′, had a conservative sail area and was a pig to shunt (more later on this term). She also had inadequate freeboard at the bow, making for dangerous running in big seas or strong wind. Despite these faults, Cheers showed what could be done and started a rush of proas, mainly by the French singlehanded crowd. These 2nd generation boats suffered a rash of misfortunes, mostly caused by sailors running before they could walk. After numerous capsizes and DNF’s, they were banned from short handed yacht races in Europe.

This was similar to the experiences of early cats and tris, although compressed into a much shorter time period, and with the added pressure of very rapid development of other multihulls making the proas look relatively slow. An exception to this was Crossbow, the 60′ proa which held the world speed sailing title of 31 knots in 1975. Crossbow was very specialised. It only sailed in one direction and had to be towed back after each high speed run. There was also an 18m/60′ long by 24m/80′ wide aluminium proa built for the Rhoute de Rhum singlehanded transatlantic race in 1982 . This boat had a single beam supporting a waterballasted windward hull. The beam could be raked aft to keep the bows up in hard reaching conditions. The maiden voyage was out to the race start, and the skipper inadvertently (possibly with an eye on the gales forecast for the first night) released the rope which held the beam in place. It folded in against the lee hull and the boat capsized.

Cheers has been refitted by some French enthusiasts and is sailing in the South of France. I have no idea what happened to Crossbow, but suspect it is sitting in a shed somewhere in Eastern England. The French monster has, unfortunately, probably been melted down for scrap.

After the ban, interest in proas died out apart from the Pacific Islands where life carried on much as before, although outboard motors replaced sails on a lot of boats. Recently however, there has been an upsurge in interest, mostly people building replicas of traditional proas using modern materials. These tend to be more efficient than the traditional boats, but still have many of their shortcomings. They lack righting moment without large crews, their crabclaw sails tend to be lousy upwind, and because the masts need to be moved from one end to the other, they are slow, cumbersome and dangerous to shunt.

A few people have appreciated and used the reduced stress and materials inherent in proas to build and cruise cheaply. Among them are a couple of French cruising proas sighted in various locations around the tropics, but information on them is hard to come by. Russ Brown (Jim of Searunner trimaran fame’s son) has designed, built, and cruised extensively in Pacific proas, although he is loathe to sell plans or to encourage others, perhaps less skilled, to follow in his footsteps. His current boat, Jzerro spent a winter in Brisbane after being cruised from Seattle via Tahiti and Noumea. It was then shipped back to Seattle.

One of the most travelled proas is in fact Australian. Designed and built by Blaz Kokor in 1980 , About Face cruised the East coast of Australia, before being bought by it’s current owner, Ted Lamont, who cruised, frequently singlehanded from Tasmania to Perth, a journey of some 5,500 miles.

One of the theorists who appreciated the advantages of a proa was Joe Norwood, who wrote about them in his book High Speed Sailing. Norwood appreciated that Atlantic proas placed relatively high stresses on both the masts and the beams, and that these stresses could be reduced by placing these components in the lee hull, as in the Pacific proas. Unfortunately, he confused the issue by adding the complications of hydrofoils which worked in both directions, and the theoretically impressive, but practically very draggy, pyramid rig. None of his proas were built.

What all these proas had in common was that to a greater or lesser degree, they were slow (frequently built to trimaran specs, not appreciating that the loads on a proa can be far lower), and had rigs and steering which made shunting far slower than tacking on a conventional craft. Until these obstacles were overcome, proas were never going to be taken seriously.


I built my first proa in 1992 using stitch and glue ply, an alloy mast and a bewildering variety of steering combinations. At 5m/16′ long, this was competitive with Lasers and slow beach cats, and taught me many lessons about sailing proas. It was followed by U, a 7m/24′ proa with carbon/foam hulls, carbon mast and beams and again, a bewildering variety of steering combinations. Weighing only 150 kgs/330 lbs in sailing trim, U was quick, but was never developed anywhere near it’s potential as I kept experimenting with different ideas. U suffered from 3 different rigs, 3 beam arrangements, 2 windward hulls and a chopped down leeward hull, none of which were ever seriously optimised.


Both the 5m prototype and U used a ballestron rig. This is a rig where the boom is extended forward of the mast and has the jib tacked to it’s forward end and sheeted to a track just in front of the mast (see photos). The forces of the jib and the main balance each other out, resulting in a rig whose angle of incidence is adjusted by one lightly loaded sheet. Known as the AeroRig in the UK and USA and the EasyRig in Australasia, this rig is excellent for any boat, but for a proa is the difference between a 2 minute shunt with lots of hard work and an almost effortless 10 second one.

The steering/leeway reduction conundrum was far harder to solve, but eventually simplicity prevailed, and two balanced rudders were used, of a size which eliminated the need for centreboards. They have very low steering loads, and can be used individually or together.

These boats were both Pacific proas, and sailing them required a fair bit of body movement to keep the windward hull just airborne for maximum speed. This was obviously not the answer for a cruising proa. But then, nor was an Atlantic proa with a highly loaded rig and beams the answer for a lightweight, cheap, easily built boat. The solution had to be to combine the two, by placing the rigs and rudders in the lee hull, and the accommodation in the windward one. The masts could then be stayed to the ends of the beams, thus reducing the bending loads in both, the lee hull could be as long, low and narrow as possible, and the windward hull could be, within limits, whatever size and shape was required to fit the accommodation. Thus evolved the Harry proa, after a lot of sometimes heated discussion with traditional proa aficionados who wanted nothing to do with boats which were ballasted to windward by anything other than crew.

This perfectly logical solution was undoubtedly thought of by many people, but never tried, mainly because of a conviction that the added weight in the windward hull would cause the boat to luff head to wind as soon as it started to move. This has not happened, a trait I attribute to the 2 large rudders, the hull shapes and the balanced rig. Even under main alone, all my boats have been able to shunt and sail successfully.


To test the theory, I built Harry, a 12mx 6.5m proa with full standing headroom, 2 double bunks, galley and toilet in the windward hull, rig and rudders in the leeward one. Built of bending ply * and epoxy/glass, Harry was an incredibly easy boat to build and sail. I could shunt single handed in 8 seconds. It was also fast, easily achieving wind speed, despite, once again, never being optimised. Harry was another experiment, on which I tried various rigs, hulls, beams and rudders. Despite only weighing 650 kgs, it was incredibly tough, withstanding being blown off 500mm high blocks in the boatyard, and later being washed up onto a beach by waves ‘too big to launch a dinghy through’ and pounded for three hours.

Just after I modified Harry to try a single beam layout, we moved to Perth and a trailerable version became necessary to sail in the river and the ocean. Harrigami (Harry + origami) was designed as a folding, trailerable proa with accommodation for up to 4 people for weekend cruising and racing, with the potential to race offshore. It also had to be very cheap and, due to my rudimentary building skills, easy to build.

Mark Stevens and I drew a 15m/50′ harry for Australian, Dutch and Finnish clients. This boat was named Visionarry, for the Dutch boat which was designed to take blind people sailing. These boats were all strip planked timber and had very curvaceous shapes. They required a huge amount of filling, sanding and fairing.

In 2005, we were looking for a better way and hosted 2 KSS workshops with Derek Kelsall. These were a real eye opener about what could be done with foam infused on a flat table. I built a couple of hulls using this method and further developed it to use cheap flat panels moulds which cut the work required and the weight of secondary laminating for joins, fit out, etc.


One of the first clients to use this technique was Steinar Alvestad, a Norwegian building an 20m/65′ harry. Turns out Steinar is a stylist of some repute, so I employed him to redraw all the boats using the new methods.

Why a Harry proa?

Quite simply, proas are the best possible boats for their speed, weight, cost, building time or accommodation. For example Harrigami in sailing trim weighs 550 kgs/1,210 lbs, contains $20,000 worth of materials, was built in a leisurely 450 hours and has room for comfortable weekend cruising with reasonable amenities. Time and cost details are in the accompanying spreadsheets. With 31 sq m/334 sq’ of sail, it easily achieves wind speed up to 16 knots of breeze, despite less than perfect sails, which have been recut numerous times for the various rigs.

Harry proas have the minimum possible amount of structure. Cats and tris both tack. Therefore they see loads from both directions, and have to be built to withstand these. On any given tack, both are carting around a lot of extra boat, solely so that, on the other tack, they will work. Eliminating all the extra bits of boat results in a substantial weight loss. This means that a proa can have a far smaller rig for a given power to weight ratio, which further reduces the loads.