Hobie Island Sail Controls are relatively simple when compared to other sailing vessels. On a normal yacht you would have around 5 control lines connected to the mail sail to control its shape. A Hobie Island basically has 3 controls, the downhaul, the furler and the mainsheet all of which both are adjustable.
We will start with the main sheet which controls the able of the sail and to an extent the shape of the sail, full or flat. It is with the main sheet that we set the angle of the sail in comparison to the angle to the wind we are sailing. We can also control the sail shape when sailing up wind by over sheeting the main sail till it is pulled in so tight the sail becomes flat. This de-powers the sail and allows you to sail higher into the wind at a loss of boat speed.
The second control you have that is used a great deal is the furler. This is the system that rolls the sail up. We use this to set the amount of sail out we need for the right type of wind conditions. For example if the wind reaches 18 knots you may want to roll the sail up one full turn to reduce the power. Too much power is slow as the Islands can only go so fast through the water as the hull shape allows and any additional energy simply over powers the boat and she will start to dig the aka’s in the water or try to turn the boat into the wind of which you will need to counter act the force with rudder control all of which is slow. This is the most common way people break the rudder pins.
One important point you need to note to avoid the whole sail rolling out when you are trying to set the right amount of sail area for the conditions is to have both the furling line and the main sheet in your hands. One in each hand, this way you can control the way the sail furls out rather than just letting the wind take the whole sail out and over powering you when you don’t want it. Keep tension on both ropes and allow one to ease as you pull the other in. So if furling the sail in, you need to ease the sail out so that you have enough slack to roll the sail up. If you just let the main sheet fly it will be hard to roll up and may roll out completely.
The third control which is rarely used is the downhaul. This is the control line that connects the bottom of the sail to the collar on the mast base. It’s use on a Hobie Island is really to connect the sail to the mast and hold it in place but you can make some adjustments here before you head out. The way it works is by increasing the tension you will flatten the sail which de-powers it. Effectively you will reduce the curve of the sail. This control is very hard to adjust when sailing and should be set for the conditions prior to leaving. To be honest this does not make a great deal of difference on the islands and should not be of too much concern.