Moana: Disney Joins the Outrigger Revival

December 18, 2014

The latest entity riding the outrigger revival, and probably the most well known, is none other than Disney. Word broke on the upcoming computer animated feature, Moana, a new musical film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, with concept art of the project complete with the heroine sailing an outrigger.

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    Concept art from Moana, Disney’s 56th animated film. Credit: Disney
Due in theaters in November 2016, Moana is set to be the 56th film to join the Disney animated canon, and has been described by Disney as a “mythic adventure set around 2000 years ago and across a series of islands in the South Pacific.” Title character, Moana Waialiki, a Polynesian princess and born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island to complete her “ancestor’s quest.” Along the way, she teams up with demi-god Maui (rumored to be voiced by The Rock) to help her traverse the seas where they encounter monstrous sea creatures, and explore the underworlds and ancient folklore of Oceania and the South Pacific.
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    Detail of the outrigger in Moana. Credit: Disney
The concept art (detail pictured above) caught our eye, not just for the amazing visual, but that sea-going vessel. Representing a traditional outrigger setup, we couldn’t help but notice the similarities with the Pacific 16, a modern day revival of the ancient sailing vessel coming from the combined shops of Makai Projectand Offshore Catamarans. Though the Moana representation looks to be constructed of wood, probably koa, with traditional rigging of the times, the similarities with the Pacific 16 are quite striking. Which brings us to the larger outrigger revival.
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    The Pacific 16 - Moana’s modern-day outrigger equivalent.
Over the past few decades, multihulls have gone from a relative oddity to a common sea-going performer, especially among ocean racing ( America’s Cup is strictly multi-hulls now—flying ones at that), cruisers and charter trips. Which is no surprise: when just looking at the evolution of sea exploration through history, the Polynesians, who covered unbelievably large swaths of ocean in the South Pacific millennia’s ago, were staunch multi-hullers, while the single hullers of the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East took centuries to explore just their own backyard at roughly the same time. And now, it looks like there is a renewed interest in outrigger canoes. Kuddos. These small little sailing/paddling vessels are a blast to captain, catching the wind and letting things fly as the ama skips off the water when conditions are just right. Its about time for an Outrigger Revival!