/kat'euh meuh ran"/, n.
1. a vessel, usually propelled by sail, formed of two hulls or floats held side by side by a frame above them. Cf. trimaran.
2. a float or sailing raft formed of a number of logs lashed together, used in certain parts of India, South America, etc.
3. a quarrelsome person, esp. a woman.
4. Canadian Dial. a wooden sled.
[1690-1700; < Tamil katta-maram tied wood]

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Twin-hulled sailing and engine-powered boat.

Its design was based on a raft of two logs bridged by planks used by peoples in the Indonesian archipelago, Polynesia, and Micronesia. Up to 70 ft (21 m) long, early catamarans were paddled by many men and used for travel, in war, and in recreation. Especially after the sail was added, voyages as long as 2,000 mi (3,700 km) were made. In the 1870s they sailed so successfully against monohulled boats that they were barred from racing. The modern catamaran, which averages about 40 ft (12 m) in length, has been produced since 1950. They are very fast craft, achieving speeds of 20 mph (32 kph).

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      twin-hulled sailing and powered boat developed for sport and recreation in the second half of the 20th century. Its design is based on a raft of two logs bridged by planks that had earlier been used by peoples in the Indonesian archipelago and throughout Polynesia and Micronesia. Early catamarans were up to 21.3 m (70 ft) long, originally paddled by many men, and used for visiting, in war, and in exploration. Especially after the sail was added, voyages of more than 3,704 km (2,000 mi) were made.

      The U.S. designer of America's Cup boats Nathanael Herreshoff (Herreshoff, Nathanael Greene) designed and built catamarans in the 1870s that sailed so successfully against monohulled boats that they were barred from organized racing. Production of the current form of catamaran, which averages about 12.2 m (40 ft) in length, began in the 1950s. The early catamarans tended to have difficulty coming about when sailing to windward, but later designs overcame this. The catamaran remained difficult to right after capsizing, however. Smaller catamarans raced successfully against monohulled boats in 1959, and international competition began in 1961 between the United States and Great Britain, the latter winning through 1968. Thereafter, Danish and Australian boats also competed, the Australians dominating. Catamarans are very fast boats, achieving speeds of 32.19 kph (20 mph). The addition of engines also made the catamaran a popular motor-cruising boat.

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Universalium. 2010.

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