In 1967, Hobie designed the Hobie 14 Catamaran and revolutionized the sailing world. Hobie wanted to make a boat that you could easily launch into the surf from the beach, sail, and bring back through the surf. It was this 14-foot fiberglass single-handed catamaran that single-handedly changed the course of sailing. In 1969 Hobie released the Hobie 16, the most popular catamaran ever and the most competitive catamaran class in the world. Over 100,000 Hobie Cats are sailing around the world in huge Hobie fleets and regattas. Through the social and racing activities of Hobie fleets, members have an opportunity to participate in activities designed to enhance the quality of their recreational time, and to contribute to a spirit of friendship that has graced the sport of Hobie Cat sailing since 1967. Sailors everywhere have come to call this unique affinity “The Hobie Way of Life”. The year 2000 marks Hobie Cat’s 33-year anniversary.
Different models range from 14 feet in length to 21 feet, and beams range from 6.8 feet to 8.5 feet, mast heights range from 20 to 33 feet. The most popular model, the Hobie 16 has been available for more than 30 years. It measures 16′ 7″ in length, 7′ 11″ in beam, and has a mast length of 26′ 6″. Sail area is in the neighborhood of 218 square feet (20.25 m²), depending on style and configuration, total weight is around 320 lb (145 kg).
Rotomolded Boats: Bravo, Wave, Getaway
This series of boats is created of rotomolded plastic and is intended for casual and new sailors.
The Bravo is the smallest Hobie sailboat at 12′ and is intended for one person but can carry two. The relatively narrow beam (53″) compared to its 19′ mast leads to considerable heeling, or tipping of the boat compared to other catamarans. The Bravo has the distinction of being able to furl its sail around the mast.
The Wave is intended for two passengers, but is easily handled by one with its 13′ length, 7′ beam, and 20′ mast. This boat has proved extremely popular with beach resorts for being rugged, easy to sail, and underpowered.
The Getaway is marketed as a “social boat” and is designed with room for up to 6 people, more than Hobie Cat’s other boats. The boat has a trampoline both forward and aft of the mast, and is the only rotomolded Hobie to come stock with a jib and have an available trapeze. At 16’7″, the Getaway is the same length as the Hobie 16; the beam is 7’8″ and the mast is 25′ tall.
The Hobie 14 is a cat similar to the 16 but 14s were usually sold without a jib sail, although a jib-equipped version (known as the 14 Turbo) was also manufactured. They share many of the same parts; with the sails down, they are hard to tell apart without a tape measure. The 14 is designed to be sailed by one person with just a main sail. In the aftermarket it is possible to obtain a “turbo” kit for the Hobie 14 that adds a jib and trapeze. No longer manufactured by Hobie North America, the Hobie 14 can still be purchased from its sister company Hobie Europe
The 16 is the most popular Hobie Cat, both for recreational purposes and as a one-design racer. The boat is 16’7″ long, 7’11” wide, and has a mast 26’6″ tall, but only weighs 320 pounds. As with the 14, it is intended to be sailed from the beach through the surf, and to be surfed back in on the waves to the beach. Instead of daggerboards or centerboards, the 16 has asymmetrical hulls which act like foils and keep the boat from crabbing, or slipping sideways from the force of the wind. Both jib and main sails are fully battened and total 218 square feet. A trapeze is usually used by the skipper too in higher winds) to keep the boat from heeling too much.
This boat comes in two ‘trim packages’: the Sport has a jib and a small boomlett that is not attached to the mast and is intended for recreational use by two people, while the SE has only the main sail, a full boom, and is designed to be raced by one person. It is 17′ long, 8′ wide, has a 27′ 7″ mast and 168 square feet (15.6 m²) of sail area (200 ft² or 18.6 m² with the jib). Both models have swinging centerboards and ‘wings’, which are made of aluminum tubing that plug into the hulls and covered with reinforced vinyl or mesh covers that can be used as seats, backrests, or provide more leverage when trapezing. Both the wings and centerboards can be seen in the picture. The uni-rig or catboat sail plan allows the 17SE to ‘point’ well, or sail nearer to straight upwind than many other boats.
The FX-One is an import from the France-based Hobie Cat Europe company. Similar to the 17, this boat is designed for single-handed racing. With or without the optional gennaker, this boat is not eligible for the Formula 17 multihull class. Relatively uncommon in North America, the FX-One is 17′ long, 8′ 4″ wide, with a 27′ 9″ mast and 172 square feet (16.0 m²) of sail area (much more with the spinnaker), and weighs in at 326 pounds (148 kg) with the Formula 17 set-up.
The 18 is of a similar hull design to the newer Hobie 17, with the primary difference being the extra foot of length and an extra sail, making this a two person boat. When configured for the Hobie 18 class, the boat is equipped with a main sail and jib. Optionally the Hobie 18 may be equipped with wing seats (similar to the 17). New “Hobie 18s” are no longer sold by Hobie but a large and enthusiastic group of sailors still ply the waters. Length= 18′, Beam= 8′, Mast = 28′ 1″, Sail = 240 sq ft. Weight = 400 lb Hobie 18 Magnum Wing seats (mid 80’s style) add 39 lb
The Tiger, another Hobie Cat Europe import, is Hobie Cat’s entry into the Formula 18 multihull class. A two-person, light, high-floatation, wave-piercing platform with main, jib, and spinnaker sails, the Tiger has been very popular and successful both in class racing and Formula 18. At 18′ long, 8′ 6″ wide, with a 29′ 6″ mast and 227 square feet of sail area (452 square feet with the spinnaker), the Tiger is considered ‘underpowered’ without the spinnaker up, and thus controllable in high winds.
In contrast to the Tiger the Miracle 20 is considered ‘overpowered’ with 250 square feet of sail area and takes advantage of light winds. The 20 is 19′ 6″ long, 8′ 6″ wide, with a 31′ mast, and displaces 420 pounds.