Oruwa sri lanka

Difficulty to find – 1 (easy), 5 (almost extinct): 2
Why would I want to sail an oruwa: Fastest exotic sailing vessel in the world

The Oruwa is described as the ,national and dominant´ design for traditional sailing vessels from the island of Sri Lanka. It is the traditional fishing sailing vessel used by the Singhalese fishermen on the western and south-western coasts of the island. This is the furthest reach into the Indian Ocean of boats with Pacific influenced rigs. It is strictly speaking a Pacific outrigger, but with a very distinct feature: it has a rectangular mainsail.

The Oruwa has a square sail with the top corners held in place with two long bamboo poles. There are still several thousands of oru in use. Their numbers are estimated to be between three- and four thousand. There are two basic types of oru, the bala-oruwa and the palu-oruwa. The bala-oruwa has a square sail with the top corners held in place by two long bamboo poles. The single outrigger is always kept to windward. The bala–oruwa is considered the fastest traditional sailing canoe in the world.

The palu-oruwa is smaller in size and was used for fishing on the south- west coast up to recently. It has a lateen type of sail and the outrigger is both to windward and leeward, depending on the sailing direction, as in a conventional boat. Then there is the small oruwa that is rowed with paddles and poled and used for fishing close to the shore and in the lagoons and lakes.

The same type of single outrigger canoe is found over a vast area in the Pacific, Indonesia, India and as far as to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, although in many places double outrigger canoes are used.