Catamaran pioneer passes away aged 89

Francis Prout, who with his brother Roland created the world’s first production catamarans, has died aged 89.

The two brothers began building Prout catamarans more than 40 years ago in Canvey Island, Essex, pioneering cruising multihull production.

Their ideas grew after the duo canoed for Great Britain in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and decided to tie two of their kayaks together with bamboo poles to produce a efficient, high-speed vessel.

Their father Geoffrey founded Prout Folding Boats in 1935, shipping folding dinghies and canoes worldwide.

Francis and his elder brother Roland, who died in 1997, grew the business after their successful kayak experiments into possibly the most famous catamaran builders in the world.

They scooped a Queen’s Award for Industry and in 1964 a Prout catamaran became the first multihull to circumnavigate the globe.

More than 4000 boats were built and designs ranged from 26 to 70 feet.

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