Thursday, November 1, 2018

Happy 50th Birthday, Hobie Cat!



This year, the Hobie Cat turned 50 years old. Developed by surfer Hobie Alter, who was credited with building the first one in 1965 with a design that could be easily beached. Since 1967, the company has been building a variety of sizes and styles, but it's the Hobie 16 that really revolutionized sailing. The Hobie 16 was easily trailerable, easily beached and didn't cost a fortune. It took a rich man's sport and made it accessible to all. Over 135,000 Hobie 16 Cats are sailing around the world. They were fun, they were fast, and they were accessible.

Me and my Hobie 18
The Hobie 18 was the first boat I owned back around 1982. I was sorry we didn't go with the Hobie 16 as the 18 had a few issues the 16 didn't. With it's plumb bow it tended to submarine into waves, causing the person out on the trapeze to go sailing through the air around the forestay. It was also about 100 pounds heavier than the 16 which made dragging it up the beach a bit more challenging. And forget about dumping it. To right it, I had to tie a plastic bag full of water around my waist to get enough ballast to flip it over. It was a b___ch!

But I loved it. There was such exhilaration being suspended out over the water at breakneck speed. We trailered that boat all over the East Coast, dropping it into lakes and ocean beaches wherever we went. The only problem was, if the wind died, you were really stuck. I remember many times walking the boat along the shores for miles to get back to the trailer. But it was worth it.

Hobie Alter died in 2014, RIP. But he gave many people a chance to experience the thrill of sailing.

My next boat was twice the size, a Sabre 36. My cruising life had begun.