Russell Brown, Proa Pioneer
Russell began his personal multihull design and construction saga by designing and building a 30-foot Pacific proa when he was 14 years old for a grand total of $400 of materials.
Fast, unsinkable, and durable (after Russ rebuilt it the first time, adding another $800 to the cost, for a grand total of $1,200), his proa Jzero (note single “r”, we’ll come back to that!) was a landmark advance in modern multihull design and construction.
Jzero gave an amazing performance in the St. Maarten Tradewinds race on a leg from Virgin Gorda, around St. Croix, to Martinique, about 350 miles; which was essentially upwind, the most difficult type of sailing. Jzero finished third in this race, less than 2 hours behind the two leaders. This type of performance was unheard-of because the two lead boats were the 60-foot long Rogue Wave sailed by Phil Weld and a 60 ft Peter Spronk racing catamaran; both of which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and were crewed by professional sailors.
Russell then went on to design what many consider to be the fastest, most wholesome, and safest modern adaptations of that ancient design, the Pacific Island proa: Kauri, Jzerro, and Cimba, all in the 36 to 38-foot long range. Russell Brown’s boats speak for themselves; all the boats in the following photos were not only designed by Russ but also built by him:
(Below) Russell Brown in his boat shop in Port Townsend, Washington, with a rebuild project in the background and the “Ultimate How-To-Work-With-Epoxy” manual for boat builders that he wrote on the bench in front of him. Russell’s work has made boats more understandable, more affordable, and easier to build; just as his father’s work in the SeaRunner trimaran series made those “cruising machines” more accessible to the average person. Thanks Russ!
(Below) Russell’s 30-foot long Jzero early in her career.
(Below) Russell’s 30-foot long Jzero about 30 years later in her career, renamed Lazarus by the current owner. This kind of longevity is a testament to the amazing durability and value inherent in these boats.
(Below) Video of Jzerro sailing 17.8 knots on autopilot (note the two “r’s”):
(Below) Russell’s 37-foot long Cimba.
(Below) Russell’s 38-foot long Kauri
(Below) Russell’s 36-foot long Jzerro flying across San Francisco Bay
Russell currently operates Port Townsend Watercraft with his wife Ashlyn, offering custom boat construction, dinghy and skiff kits, and custom-made marine hardware. Click on the blue link text to visit them and see their operation. Russell and Ashlyn can be contacted for boat building quotes, marine design, and advisory projects at [email protected] : remove the SPAM!
(Below) Russell and Ashlyn just WON the single-handed category of the 2017 Race To Alaska (R2AK) with this special 32-foot catamaran they recently rebuilt. Russ was the “single hand” onboard, and Ashlyn was the on-shore support crew (essential for single-handed sailor’s morale). Because the Race does not allow any vessels with engines to participate, one of the additions they made to this 32-footer was a pedal-powered propulsion unit, This unit allowed Russell (who was the pedal power) to keep making progress even when there was no wind.