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Hobie Sailing Tips

Safe and sane guidelines for the beginner and a review for the experienced:

BALANCING THE BOAT

When sailing, sit on the upwind side of the boat (wind on your back) just in front of the tiller, facing the sail. Balance your weight further outboard as the boat begins to tip or heel over with the wind in the sails. Tuck one foot under the hiking strap for balance. Use your hand that is forward to hold and control the mainsheet. Use your hand that is aft to steer.

STEERING

Steer the boat by pushing the tiller away from you to turn towards the wind. Pull the tiller towards you to turn away from the wind. Keep the movement of the tiller to a minimum to prevent over-steering. This will help you keep the boat moving in a straight line as you pay attention to other watercraft and sail adjustments.

SAIL POWER

Face the sail in order to pay close attention to the trim or adjustment of the sail. When the front of the sail, just behind the mast, luffs or flutters in the breeze, you lose power. To start moving, pull the sail in just enough to stop the sail from luffing. There are also short ribbons hanging on either side of the sail. Follow the diagram of sail and course adjustments using the "tell tails" to get the most performance out of the sail for all angles of sailing. The tell tails react to air flowing over the sail and will help you see that the sail is pulled in too tight or too loosely. If you pull the sail too tight you will stall the sail power. Ease the sail out until it luffs, then pull it in just a little until it stops luffing. You will adjust the trim whenever the wind changes direction or you change course.Refer to the sail trim diagram for approximate sail settings for the different points of sail or directions you will be sailing. Note the "can't sail zone". You cannot sail in this direction due to the fact that the sail will luff constantly when pointed into the wind. If you get stuck in irons (or stop pointed into the wind) you will need to reverse the rudder and push the sail forward to back-wind it. The jib should be back winded by the crew to assist. This will back the boat up. Reverse the rudders and let the sail out until the boat is positioned more across the wind (close reach). Then you can correctly trim the sail and start moving forward.

TURNING

To tack or turn the boat into and across the wind to the opposite direction (also known as "coming about"), follow the points of sail guide and take the boat to the close hauled point of sail. This is when you are nearly 35 degrees from sailing straight into the wind. With the boat moving forward and not stalling, push the tiller away from you slowly. When the boat is pointing straight into the wind the boat will become level. Ease the mainsheet trim out just a little. At this time move your body to the other side of the boat, switch hands with tiller and mainsheet and begin to bring the rudder back to straight. The crew should move across the trampoline at the same time. The crew is responsible to ease the jib sheet just after the main sail is released and sheet the jib onto the new course before the mainsheet is trimmed. This action by the crew will prevent the boat stalling head to wind. As the boat comes across the wind and falls off onto the opposite, close hauled point of sail, bring the tiller all the way back to the straight position and pull the mainsail back in for the proper sail trim. If you stall pointing into the wind and you cannot steer the boat, refer back to the sail power description concerning getting stuck in irons.When sailing downwind, the turn from one point of sail across to the other is called a jibe. The jibe is completed by turning away from the wind (falling off) to the opposite point of sail rather than into the wind as when tacking. Care must be taken when attempting a jibe as the boat will be at full power and you cannot easily de-power it without turning back into the wind. Also, be aware that the boat will be less stable in this maneuver as the sail will now have to swing clear across from fully out one side of the boat to fully out the other.To start a jibe, turn the boat away from the wind and let the sail out slowly. Keep the turn going at a steady rate and begin pulling the sail back in as the boat nears the straight downwind direction. This will help prevent the sail from slamming all the way across when the sail fills from the opposite side. Duck below the sail to avoid getting hit as the wind fills the sail from the opposite side and swings across the boat. Attempt to control the speed of the sail while it crosses the deck by maintaining some tension on the mainsheet. Then ease the mainsheet out quickly as the boat turns past the downwind direction onto the new point of sail. Trim the sail correctly for the desired point of sail.

LAUNCHING THE BOAT

Launching the boat is easiest when the boat can be pointed into the wind to keep it de-powered and floated into deep enough water to lower the rudders. It is possible to launch in shallow water with the rudders partly up. Try not to steer with too much force on the rudders until you lock them in the down position. Keep the sail loose and trimmed out completely until you can power up and steer away from any obstacle. Trim the sail in quickly to get the boat moving forward and steer away from the wind slightly to prevent stalling into the wind.When launching from a beach where the wind is blowing from the beach towards the water you simply keep the boat pointed into the wind. Drift backwards with the rudders in the up position and your weigh towards the front of the boat. Stay forward as the boat drifts into deeper water.You can hold the sail out to catch wind backwards to increase reverse speed. Then move to the rear and lower the rudders. It will be easiest to lower only one rudder while moving backwards. Then lower the other when the boat begins to move forward again. Be aware of the intended direction you wish to sail when lowering the rudder and steer the boat as the rudder drops into the water. There will be a lot of force on the rudder to turn one way or the other when going backwards. Plan ahead and steer the rudders so that they will be pointing in that direction before dropping it into the water. Steer the boat while going backwards so the bow turns away from the wind and toward the direction you wish to sail. As the sail begins to fill with wind, the boat will slow then begin to move forward. Trim in the sail and off you go.

RIGHTING THE BOAT

If you tip the boat over, stay with the boat. The boat will not sink and is easy to right. It is not necessary, but it is easier, to right the boat when the bow and the mast are pointed into the wind as in the diagram.There will be less wind resistance and better control in this position. Be sure the mainsheet is released, then swim around to the bottom of the boat. Skipper and crew should climb up on the hull and stand up. Using the righting line, skipper and crew pull the righting line that is against the upper hull and hold the line while slowly leaning back away from the trampoline. Lean to approximately 45 degrees for best leverage. As the mast and sail lift out of the water and the upper hull begins to drop back into the water, drop down to your knees then into the water. Hold onto the righting line near the crossbar or the crossbar itself near the hull that you were standing on. This will prevent the hull from being lifted into the air by momentum which could cause the boat to capsize once again. Be well aware of the hull and crossbar coming down over your head. Holding the crossbar or righting line will also insure that you remain with the boat when it is righted. Climb aboard and continue sailing.

DOCKING

Docking the Getaway properly will prevent damage. Always dock and rig on the leeward side of a dock (the side the wind reaches last). Come in slowly and always be aware of the wind direction so you can properly de-power the boat when needed. The stronger the wind the more difficult the docking will be. Until you feel confident, you may want to practice with a friend who will remain on the dock and help slow you down if necessary.

BEACH LANDINGS

Landing on a beach is simple. The idea is to reach the beach in the point of sail nearest straight into the wind as possible. This will assure that you can properly de-power the sail once beached.Approaching a beach when the wind is blowing from the beach out towards the water will require some planning so that you maintain power. Turn into shore just before the hulls or rudders touch bottom. Plan so the final tack towards the location you choose to land is the tack that is nearest straight into the wind. Get a little closer to the beach than you need on the pervious tack to account for wind shifts in direction and speed. This will give you a little room for error. This will allow you to point a little further away from the wind after the tack to gain speed before heading up into the beach to de-power at the last moment.When approaching a beach when the wind is blowing onshore, sail in towards the beach from either side of the landing spot. Sail in just short of touching the bottom with the rudders. Allow some distance to turn the boat out towards the water and into the wind just out from the landing spot. Turn sharply to head into the wind and stall the boat. Raise the rudders and drift back onto the beach.Always keep the boat pointed into the wind while beached and keep the sail trimmed out and un-cleated.

The Hobie Cat 16- still the one!

Everyone talks about what is the fastest boat. On the really windy days when all the wussy boys are sitting on the beach with their fancy contraptions safely tied down on their trailers, the Hobie 16 sailors start getting excited. They rake the masts back until they look like they will fall over backwards and they hoot and bellow as they smoke out to the start. The Hobie 16 is a quick boat and it loves the breeze!

  • Once you have the boat set up correctly (see below), getting the best boatspeed is a matter of feel. My old mate Bad News, many years ago, convinced me to throw away my tape measure and texta pens and concentrate on basic rigging and technique to get the right feel in the boat as often as I can.
  • Sailing upwind,if you are fighting the helm, you may be either oversheeted, have too much rig tension or are trimmed too far forward. If you have no height to windward, you may be undersheeted or have too little rig tension. The boat should accelerate in the gusts rather than heel over and slow down. If it feels bound up, pull a little more downhaul and/or loosen the rig a little. If it just feels low and slow, pull on the rig tension and ease the down haul. Wrongly aligned rudders can kill your pointing ability so double check them!
  • For maximum power in just double-trapeze conditions, I like the main traveller in centre, the mainsheet almost blocked out and the jib sheet blocked out in the inner position on the track. As I get overpowered, I first pull on some down haul, then pull the jib traveller out to one third, then half way, then ease the rig tension and finally as a last resort, crank the down haul and ease the main traveller but never more than to the hiking strap. If its still too hard to control the boat, GO HOME- its too windy to be sailing!!
  • Keep your crew weight together and just behind the sidestay. Avoid smashing the bow through waves and learn to steer smoothly through, around and over the slop. Don't cleat the main sheet- gently ease and tighten as you steer over and around the waves. Every time you bear away, you should ease a little main. Every time you head up, you should sheet on a little. Cleating is for weaklings! Put an extra block in the system if you can't hang on to it.

 Hobie 16 Race Tuning

The Hobie 16 has been produced for many years. Since about the mid eighties, the boats have from new, been equipped for racing. The success of the class lies in its strict one-design rules which don't allow individuals to gain an advantage by spending more money. A new boat is as good as anyone can have. All competitors have the same opportunity to have the best gear. The 16 has an asymmetric hull that is surprisingly efficient and an unorthodox rig which combine to make a very quick boat in medium to strong wind conditions. The main ingredients to handling and performance are mast rake, rig tension and rudder tuning.

Mast Rake

Plenty of mast rake is essential. A low profile mainsheet system is necessary to achieve mainsheet tension with lots of mast rake. When double trapped in 12 kts of breeze, the triple upper and lower mainsheet blocks can just be pulled to the point of touching. This means that at rest, the mainsheet blocks are about one and a half hand-spans apart. Mast rake is dictated by the position of the sidestays in the shroud chainplate adjusters.

Rig Tension

The tension of the rig is set by adjusting the jib halyard at the front of the lower end of the mast. Too much rig tension will power up the boat excessively in strong breeze and make it fly a hull rather than accelerate in the gusts. Too little rig tension results in lack of power and pointing ability. In very strong wind, too little rig tension can prevent flattening of the mainsail and jib, resulting in excessive power, hull flying and poor speed. A general rule of thumb is to pull the jib halyard to take up the slack in the the shrouds  and then about 25mm more. In the case of the rope jib halyard system with 3:1 at the hound, pull another70mm. As the breeze strengthens to double trapeze conditions, it pays to pull some more rig tension to counteract the compression bend of the mast. As you get overpowered, easing the rig tension allows the mast to rake aft and sideways to spill power out of the top of the sail, while you maintain centre traveller position. This allows the lower part of the mainsail to produce height to windward.

Rudder Tuning

To counteract the serious aft mast rake on a 16, the rudders must be tucked under the transom, i.e. raked forward to balance the side loadings. If you put a straight-edge down the transom, there should be about 25mm of blade forward of the transom line. Too little tuck-under causes weather-helm (tiller pulling against you). Too much tuck-under causes lee-helm (tiller pushing against you). A little weather helm (slowly rounds up to windward if tiller is released) is desirable. Rudder rake is best adjusted by re-drilling the bolt holes in the rudder blade. Make sure the locking cams are in good working order so that the blades stay locked down at speed. To reduce slop, keep the bolts as tight as possible whilst still allowing free movement. Finally it is important to adjust the length of the tiller crossbar to achieve 4-5mm of blade toe-in, i.e. the leading edge of the rudder blades should be narrower than the trailing edges. Toed-out blades kill your upwind speed and pointing ability!

Other Stuff

It is vital that the jib be set as low as possible whilst still maintaining sheet tension and angle. You should only just be able to block out the jibsheet blocks under load. The battens in both sails can be shaved to make them softer producing more sail shape. This is unnecessary in late model boats because the standard battens are well matched to the sails. however it does pay to shave the top two jib battens to make them softer and bend more easily. Downhaul is an effective adjustment. Usually, if you set the downhaul tension to achieve the maximum draft in the sail, you can leave it there. In strong wind conditions, pull more downhaul  tension to flatten the mainsail.

Above all, in light air, it pays to avoid excessive  tension on any of the adjustments. In stronger breeze, when the settings are right, the boat just flies along, accelerating with every puff. Those who know the correct feel and can maintain it most consistently, go the fastest. Only practice with other 16s can help you develop the correct feel.

Top Ten Tuning Tips

1. mast rake
2. rudder rake
3. rudder cam adjustment
4. rig tension
5. jib position on the forestay chainplate
6. good sails
7. tight tramp
8. epoxy-glued tramp frame
9. downhaul
10. low trapeze wires

Mal's Maintenance Tips

Keep your Hobie out of the sun whenever possible. Under cover of a good quality tarp or better still,  in a garage, will ensure long life in the Queensland environment. The $10.00 cheapie tarp might keep the rain off for a while but it will not keep out the harmful UV rays which crucify everything in their path.

  • A quick hose after outings in salt water will reduce the likelihood of corrosion between the alloy and stainless fittings.
  • Spray your travellers with a squirt of lubricant before use.
  • Don't kill your sails with kindness. It is not necessary to wash them after every use. However, it is essential to let them dry before storing.
  • Don't let your sails flog when the boat is on the beach. Easing the downhaul reduces flapping and mast flogging on windy days.
  • Undo your battens after sailing.
  • If you roll your boom inside your salty sail, be prepared to deal with some heavy duty corrosion around the boom fittings
  • Ease your boat tie-downs when you get home.
  • An occasional coat of wax will keep the hulls looking shiny.
  • Orange juice is the magical remover for the unavoidable Lake Cootharaba tea tree stain.
  • Ensure that the shroud anchor pins are firm. Coiling wires on the tramp tends to unwind the pin and can lead to failure. Do not overtighten!

Trailering

  • When towing, ensure that the rudder arms are tied firmly downwards and forwards to prevent blades dropping down and dragging on the road and reduce premature wear to the gudgeons and pivot bolts. It is also a good idea to keep bolts as firm as possible.
  • Load your mast on the trailer with the track side up. I have seen some horrendous mast damage caused when the trailer padding wears through and allows the track to rub on the mast support.
  • make sure that the mast is particularly secure at the front support. A loose mast can find its way out into the path of oncoming traffic. I've seen it happen!
  • Hook your own trailer onto the towbar of the car and when you do, connect the chain and lights at the same time. Don't rely on your memory to come back and finish the job. A few Hobies have been written off over the years when they overtook the tow vehicle and charged off into the bush.

Rudders

The Hobie rudder system works well but needs a little maintenance.

  • Keep the bolts tight to reduce side-to-side movement
  • Ensure that the cam slide plate (on top of the top casting), is adjusted as far forward as possible whilst still allowing the cam to lock fully down. If the plate is too far    back,  the cam will stay rolled over when you lift the tiller arm. If the plate is too far forward, the cam cannot lock properly and the blade will kick up too easily. Spray the plunger and put some grease on the cam occasionally
  • Worn rudder pins and gudgeon/casting holes can cause incredible weather helm (rudder pulling against you) due to the tip of the rudder blade sweeping further back than it should. Bushings are available to firm up this slop and restore helm feel.

Safe and sane guidelines for the beginner and an easy review for the experienced:

BALANCING THE BOAT

When sailing, sit on the upwind side of the boat (wind on your back) just in front of the tiller, facing the sail. Balance your weight further outboard as the boat begins to tip or heel over with the wind in the sails. Tuck one foot under the hiking strap for balance. Use your hand that is forward to hold and control the mainsheet. Use your hand that is aft to steer.

STEERING

Steer the boat by pushing the tiller away from you to turn towards the wind. Pull the tiller towards you to turn away from the wind. Keep the movement of the tiller to a minimum to prevent over-steering. This will help you keep the boat moving in a straight line as you pay attention to other watercraft and sail adjustments.

SAIL POWER

Face the sail in order to pay close attention to the trim or adjustment of the sail. When the front of the sail, just behind the mast, luffs or flutters in the breeze, you lose power. To start moving, pull the sail in just enough to stop the sail from luffing. There are also short ribbons hanging on either side of the sail. Follow the diagram of sail and course adjustments using the "tell tails" to get the most performance out of the sail for all angles of sailing. The tell tails react to air flowing over the sail and will help you see that the sail is pulled in too tight or too loosely. If you pull the sail too tight you will stall the sail power. Ease the sail out until it luffs, then pull it in just a little until it stops luffing. You will adjust the trim whenever the wind changes direction or you change course.Refer to the sail trim diagram for approximate sail settings for the different points of sail or directions you will be sailing. Note the "can't sail zone". You cannot sail in this direction due to the fact that the sail will luff constantly when pointed into the wind. If you get stuck in irons (or stop pointed into the wind) you will need to reverse the rudder and push the sail forward to back-wind it. The jib should be back winded by the crew to assist. This will back the boat up. Reverse the rudders and let the sail out until the boat is positioned more across the wind (close reach). Then you can correctly trim the sail and start moving forward.

TURNING

To tack or turn the boat into and across the wind to the opposite direction (also known as "coming about"), follow the points of sail guide and take the boat to the close hauled point of sail. This is when you are nearly 35 degrees from sailing straight into the wind. With the boat moving forward and not stalling, push the tiller away from you slowly. When the boat is pointing straight into the wind the boat will become level. Ease the mainsheet trim out just a little. At this time move your body to the other side of the boat, switch hands with tiller and mainsheet and begin to bring the rudder back to straight. The crew should move across the trampoline at the same time. The crew is responsible to ease the jib sheet just after the main sail is released and sheet the jib onto the new course before the mainsheet is trimmed. This action by the crew will prevent the boat stalling head to wind. As the boat comes across the wind and falls off onto the opposite, close hauled point of sail, bring the tiller all the way back to the straight position and pull the mainsail back in for the proper sail trim. If you stall pointing into the wind and you cannot steer the boat, refer back to the sail power description concerning getting stuck in irons.When sailing downwind, the turn from one point of sail across to the other is called a jibe. The jibe is completed by turning away from the wind (falling off) to the opposite point of sail rather than into the wind as when tacking. Care must be taken when attempting a jibe as the boat will be at full power and you cannot easily de-power it without turning back into the wind. Also, be aware that the boat will be less stable in this maneuver as the sail will now have to swing clear across from fully out one side of the boat to fully out the other.To start a jibe, turn the boat away from the wind and let the sail out slowly. Keep the turn going at a steady rate and begin pulling the sail back in as the boat nears the straight downwind direction. This will help prevent the sail from slamming all the way across when the sail fills from the opposite side. Duck below the sail to avoid getting hit as the wind fills the sail from the opposite side and swings across the boat. Attempt to control the speed of the sail while it crosses the deck by maintaining some tension on the mainsheet. Then ease the mainsheet out quickly as the boat turns past the downwind direction onto the new point of sail. Trim the sail correctly for the desired point of sail.

LAUNCHING THE BOAT

Launching the boat is easiest when the boat can be pointed into the wind to keep it de-powered and floated into deep enough water to lower the rudders. It is possible to launch in shallow water with the rudders partly up. Try not to steer with too much force on the rudders until you lock them in the down position. Keep the sail loose and trimmed out completely until you can power up and steer away from any obstacle. Trim the sail in quickly to get the boat moving forward and steer away from the wind slightly to prevent stalling into the wind.When launching from a beach where the wind is blowing from the beach towards the water you simply keep the boat pointed into the wind. Drift backwards with the rudders in the up position and your weigh towards the front of the boat. Stay forward as the boat drifts into deeper water.You can hold the sail out to catch wind backwards to increase reverse speed. Then move to the rear and lower the rudders. It will be easiest to lower only one rudder while moving backwards. Then lower the other when the boat begins to move forward again. Be aware of the intended direction you wish to sail when lowering the rudder and steer the boat as the rudder drops into the water. There will be a lot of force on the rudder to turn one way or the other when going backwards. Plan ahead and steer the rudders so that they will be pointing in that direction before dropping it into the water. Steer the boat while going backwards so the bow turns away from the wind and toward the direction you wish to sail. As the sail begins to fill with wind, the boat will slow then begin to move forward. Trim in the sail and off you go.

RIGHTING THE BOAT

If you tip the boat over, stay with the boat. The boat will not sink and is easy to right. It is not necessary, but it is easier, to right the boat when the bow and the mast are pointed into the wind as in the diagram.There will be less wind resistance and better control in this position. Be sure the mainsheet is released, then swim around to the bottom of the boat. Skipper and crew should climb up on the hull and stand up. Using the righting line, skipper and crew pull the righting line that is against the upper hull and hold the line while slowly leaning back away from the trampoline. Lean to approximately 45 degrees for best leverage. As the mast and sail lift out of the water and the upper hull begins to drop back into the water, drop down to your knees then into the water. Hold onto the righting line near the crossbar or the crossbar itself near the hull that you were standing on. This will prevent the hull from being lifted into the air by momentum which could cause the boat to capsize once again. Be well aware of the hull and crossbar coming down over your head. Holding the crossbar or righting line will also insure that you remain with the boat when it is righted. Climb aboard and continue sailing.

DOCKING

Docking the Getaway properly will prevent damage. Always dock and rig on the leeward side of a dock (the side the wind reaches last). Come in slowly and always be aware of the wind direction so you can properly de-power the boat when needed. The stronger the wind the more difficult the docking will be. Until you feel confident, you may want to practice with a friend who will remain on the dock and help slow you down if necessary.


BEACH LANDINGS

Landing on a beach is simple. The idea is to reach the beach in the point of sail nearest straight into the wind as possible. This will assure that you can properly de-power the sail once beached.Approaching a beach when the wind is blowing from the beach out towards the water will require some planning so that you maintain power. Turn into shore just before the hulls or rudders touch bottom. Plan so the final tack towards the location you choose to land is the tack that is nearest straight into the wind. Get a little closer to the beach than you need on the pervious tack to account for wind shifts in direction and speed. This will give you a little room for error. This will allow you to point a little further away from the wind after the tack to gain speed before heading up into the beach to de-power at the last moment.When approaching a beach when the wind is blowing onshore, sail in towards the beach from either side of the landing spot. Sail in just short of touching the bottom with the rudders. Allow some distance to turn the boat out towards the water and into the wind just out from the landing spot. Turn sharply to head into the wind and stall the boat. Raise the rudders and drift back onto the beach.Always keep the boat pointed into the wind while beached and keep the sail trimmed out and un-cleated.

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