Orthogonal: Design-Build-Sail with a dash of anthropology

Orthogonal is a transdisciplinary research project involving anthropology, hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, design prototyping, experimental structures and materials science, traditional and contemporary artisanal practices, sustainability and ‘critical technical practice’ (Agre)

Micronesian and other Pacific island communities have a long (and almost lost) tradition of fast asymmetrical multihull sailboats (generally referred to as proa, or in french, prao), upon which both local and long distance ocean journeys were undertaken. These boats were recognized by the early European navigators as being much faster than European designs, but the principles of their design and operation were quite orthogonal to European methods and ideas.
Orthogonal is a project to build a modern proa, exploiting some of the special qualities of traditional proas – such as lateral asymmetry and shunting – while using modern materials. Othogonal diverges from traditional designs in significant ways, such as the use of rotating masts and aerodynamic wing-sails. All design and construction is custom, combining handcrafting techniques with computer-aided design. .

Simon Penny has been designing Orthogonal since 2014.  Building Orthogonal has underway since fall 2014, supported by the UCI CALIT2/UROP Multidisciplinary Design Program in 2015/16 an again in 2016/17 – and by the the Dean of CTSA who has provided building space in the Arts Annex. Students are encouraged to take part in this long term project via the MDP program or in other ways.