What is a true Panga?
 
Almost 50 years ago, the World Bank and Yamaha Motor Co. of Japan and got together and Yamaha designed a low cost skiff for poor island fishermen all over the far east.  The design made of fiberglass by Yamaha almost 50 years ago; had originated in South America where they were made of timber for fishing shallow water with nets.
 
Why is the bow so high?

The bow is high simply because net fishermen stand on the bow to pull up their nets.  The bow has to be high out of the water to compensate for the man in the bow pulling up heavy nets.  It also makes for a dry ride as a side benefit.

Hull ViewThe structure for most traditionally built Pangas does not use longitudinal stringers as in V bottom boats.  Instead, they have transverse  ribs that are the traditional method for boat building.  Also, in addition, true traditional Panga boats have transverse ribs and no deck because they use the floor and ribs to lay their nets in.
 
The transformation from the island fisherman netting fish in shallow waters in their pangas has brought the design to be appealing for fishermen all over the world.  The unique design of the true Panga boat is made to skip along the top of choppy waves instead of plowing through them like a V hull.
 
Over the past decade or so, the Panga design has been westernized to where it is not a true Panga any more; or a Panga in name only.  Some boats today call themselves a Panga but in reality they only share some of the profile from the waterline up.  To determine if a boat is a real Panga design or a modernized version, is to see how it is powered.
 
The original Yamaha design from Japan was designed specifically to use the minimum amount of horsepower in order to make the boat light and affordable to the village fishermen.  It must also be light enough to travel in shallow water.  Another true feature of the original Panga is the rim of the gunwale.  A true Panga has structural foam around the entire rim cap of the boat.  This is designed so that in case the fisherman found himself in truly rough water and capsized the boat; the boat would right itself into it's upright position.
 
The Panga's ride. 
Hull Design
It is a unique ride due to a pad that starts at the bow.  The bow does not have a sharp entry but is two inches flat that tapers wider to 14 inches at the rear and protrudes down from the center of the semi V hull about one inch or so.  It is this pad that the boat rides on and is one reason that it needs very little horsepower.  Once the boat planes, it rides on this pad and skips along the top of the waves using minimum power and getting maximum speed riding on it's rails.  This is what gives a true panga it's efficiency and speed.