Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history
That is rather Eurocentric. While Europeans were coast hugging on the other side of the planet the Polynesian's ancestors were sailing out into the wide, wide Pacific ocean (1/3 of the earth's surface).
Initially they sailed east on the early season trade winds then returned on the late season reversal telling what they'd found. But the point is they sailed off into the horizon in a huge ocean in open dugout catamarans with pounded bark sails.
After a time they learned to sail into the wind so they were not so tied to the trade winds and could make deliberate voyages in the central Pacific. But a cultural drive to find new unpopulated islands and colonise them evolved. They reached the far edge and interacted with the locals. They transmitted coconuts and received sweet potatoes (edited). But we know those who later colonised Hawai'i, Rapanui and Aotearoa carried sweet potatoes as standard.
Later those three cardinal points of the Polynesian triangle were found and colonised after the ability to sail across the wind was developed. You cannot sail to or from the Central Pacific and those places without being able to sail across the wind.
Note Aotearoa/NZ was settled in about 1200ACE.
One of Cook's lieutenants noted in his diary their astonishment watching a native boy in an outrigger zip across the bay 'as though the wind direction was inconsequential'.
Cook sailed a square rigger. By the time of the mass European colonisation in the early mid 19thC the ships were lanteen rigged with triangular sails placed along the hull. The influence of that change is rarely acknowledged. Europe learned to sail properly by watching the Polynesians do it.