Hobie 16

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File:Hobie Cat 16.jpg
A Hobie 16 'The Pig' in action on Pittwater, Australia

See Also: Hobie 16 subsection of Hobie cat entry

The ISAF International Class Hobie 16 (H16) is a popular catamaran manufactured by the Hobie Cat Company for racing and day sailing. The craft was the driving force behind the popularization of beach cats and was recently inducted into the Sailing Hall Of Fame.

Introduced in 1972[1], the Hobie 16 is the second largest boat fleet in existence with over 109,000 boats built to date.

The boat is distinctly recognized for its asymmetric "banana" shaped hulls, designed to work without the need for daggerboards so the catamaran could be run up the beach without worry. The rudders kick-up automatically by lifting up on the tiller crossbar.


A de-rigged Hobie 16

The Hobie 16 is manufactured in France by the Hobie Cat company, and by the Hobie Cat of America company in the United States. Historically the French boats are preferred as they are perceived to be built to tighter tolerances.[citation needed]

The Hobie 16 normally carries two sails, the mainsail and the jib. There is a kit to allow an H16 to fly a spinnaker but this is not class legal for racing.

Each hull has two pylons (the forward ones are vented to allow the pressure inside the hull to equalise) and the frame fits onto these pylons. The frame consists of four aluminium alloy beams which slot into four aluminium alloy corner castings and are secured with rivets. The trampoline slots along the inside of the beams and is tensioned by rope or shock cord. Racers commonly epoxy the beams into the castings to boost rigidity because the flexing of the boat as it rides over waves saps power.

Earlier masts were one-piece aluminium alloy, but were changed to two-piece ones with a non-conductive composite fiberglass tip (known as "comptip") not for performance reasons, but after a few people in the United States of America were electrocuted trying to raise masts under power lines and their families sued Hobie Cat.[2][3] The mast foot casting forms a ball which steps into cup-shaped shoe riveted onto the forward crossmember and there is a Teflon disk separating the two. The downward compressive force from the mast is partially carried by the crossmember and partially by a stainless steel compression post and tensioned tie rod assembly called a "dolphin striker".

The H16 may be equipped with two trapeze wires either side to allow both the helm and crew to trapeze. "Cat seats" can be fitted to allow disabled sailors to sail the H16 without too much penalty.

The rudder assembly consist of a rudder on each hull fitted to a (Hobie patented) automatically releasing stock comprising a casting, a cam and spring-loaded plunger, so that the rudders spring up when they hit ground to avoid damage. The system can be troublesome until the correct tension is set on the spring. The rudders are connected to two short tillers which are in turn attached via a ball and socket joint to a connecting rod called the tiller bar. The tiller attaches to the centre of the tiller bar and is typically extendable for operation while trapezing.

The mainsheet has a maximum of a 6:1 purchase and has a traveller that allows movement over the entire aft crossmember of the frame. The jib sheets are of a 2:1 purchase and attach on the front beams with their own two travellers.

The boat has a 3:1 purchase downhaul (upgradable to 6:1) to tension the mainsail and an outhaul (standard 1:1, upgradable to 2:1) to flatten the mainsail along the boom. Both the mainsail and jib are fully battened.


In most situations, the H16 mast is raked back as far as possible. You are limited by the distance between the boom and the rear crossmember and the distance between the clew of the jib and the jibsheet blocks. The cut of the jib was changed (date?) to allow further rake and low profile jib and mainsheet blocks are essential.

For maximum speed, the windward hull should be flying and skipping along the surface of the water. H16s do not beat particularly well, nor do they sail directly downwind particularly well. They, however, are proficient at reaching, so if in doubt, sailors are encouraged to sail at more reaching angles.

H16s at speed in choppy waters are prone to "pitch-pole". This is where the leeward bow digs into the back of a wave and if the main is not de-powered immediately and the crew's weight isn't back far enough, the boat is liable to trip over head over heels.


When an H16 capsizes, it will normally lie on its side as the mast is sealed and positively buoyant. It is imperative that at least one of the crew immediately gets onto the righting line to prevent the boat turtling completely upside down as it is far more difficult to recover from that position. With all sheets released, the crew stand on the lower hull. The bows of the boat should be pointing into the wind and the crew can facilitate this by shifting their weight forwards along the hull which will allow the wind to push on the trampoline and 'windvane' the boat head to wind. Both crew then lean back on the righting line ready to grab the bottom of the boat as it comes up to prevent it from capsizing to the other side.

It is far more difficult for one person to right an H16 without using additional equipment such as a righting bag or some device to slacken the shrouds.


Length 5.05m (16' 7")
Beam 2.41m (7' 11")
Mast Length 8.08m (26' 6")
Weight: 145 kg (320 lb)
Maximum Load: 362 kg (800 lb)
Mainsail area 13.77m² (148.22 ft²)
Jib area 5.12m² (55.11 ft²)
Spinnaker area
15m² (161.5 ft²)
Racing Crew 2
EC homologation category C

See also


  1. http://www.sailamerica.com/halloffame/hobie16.asp
  2. St. Petersburg Times - Sep 28, 1977, "Electrocution Lawsuit is Settled Out of Court", Neil Skene, Staff Writer
  3. Sunday Times-News - Feb 22, 1986, Henderson, NC, "Negligence Ruled in Lawsuit", Wilmington-AP

External links

de:Hobie 16