SMALL BOAT REVIEW
Hobie Wave After sailing the Wave, legendary catamaran sailor Rick White was converted. Now, 12 years later, there are fleets of Waves racing both in the Keys and throughout the country. Rick hosts several Wave events annually. Photos Courtesy Rick White, Catamaran Sailor Magazine. www.catsailor.com.
erhaps you have seen this little catamaran on the beach at the resorts in Florida or the Caribbean. We used to see Hobie 16s—and later, Sunfish were all lined up ready for rental. Today, it is likely to be Hobie Waves. Why Well, they are nearly indestructible. They don’t flip easily, and if they do, there is a float at the top of the mast, cleverly called a “Hobie Bob.” The rudders kick up for beach landings, and there is no dagger board at all. There is no boom to clunk resort guests on the noggin and they have the requisite colorful sails. Rather than fiberglass, like other Hobies—indeed most all catamarans—the Wave is Rotomolded Polyethylene. If there is an abrasion or ding, either ignore it or buff it out. No—these boats cannot be “welded” with plastic filler. But since it is a quarter-inch thick at minimum, it is unlikely that even rocks will cause a hole. Oh, and it is not advisable to bang the side of the hull with the side of your fist. You’ll damage the fist. Just to go with the theme, the deck profile has a wavy profile. It sits high enough that guests feel somewhat secure on the trampoline. Yet it has decent speed. Naturally, if there are two of them on the same body of water, even if at a fancy beachfront hotel, a race may ensue. Legendary catamaran sailor Rick White, who really did “write the book” on multihull racing, reports that when his wife bought a Wave and suggested that they be used in their Florida Keys Wednesday evening racing, he was dead set against it. “What a dumb-looking little rubber duck!” But after sailing the boat, he was converted. Now, 12 years later, there are fleets of Waves racing both in the Keys and throughout the country. The company putting out Hobie Cats has many offerings in the sailing branch of the business. Nearly all of them are for racing, and some are very high performance. The Wave is the entry-level boat. There is one version offered specifically configured for the resorts. So simplicity was part of the design. For example, there is no dagger board. A skeg is molded into the shape of the last quarter of the boat’s hulls. Racing sailors rake their masts aft to load up the rudders for
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upwind work, just as a savvy Hobie 16 sailor does. Big rake downwind is slow. But since the shrouds are loose, the mast flops forward downwind. Newer Waves have a re-designed kick-up rudder system that does away with the old familiar cam system that needed care and maintenance. You cannot sail with one rudder up with the new system, but most agree that it doesn’t make any speed difference on this boat. As mentioned, there is no boom. The clew of the mainsail is attached to the mainsheet system that simply goes to the middle of the aft cross beam. Yes, some have added a traveler, which Hobie Cat will gladly sell them for $215. But they are not allowed for racing. One quirk is that there is no tiller extension. Simplicity —and it’s for novice sailors, remember? So what does a sailor who wants to get weight forward do? A new version of the Hobie “laid back” style is seen, with skippers lying down and steering with their feet. It is good to look around once in a while to see what’s coming, of course. As the wind increases, weight goes aft, and steering is done from the ends of the connector of the tillers. With hands, of course. While a rental fleet stays on the beach in really strong winds, the Wave can be sailed in gnarly conditions. The top of the mainsail twists off, automatically de-powering the rig. The only problem can occur in extreme conditions when bearing off from close hauled, a recurring spot of danger in all multihulls. Since the Wave is so short, it is easy to stuff the bows into the drink, and on occasion, a spectacular pitch pole, end-over-end capsize, can happen. But it is easy to right, with a righting line attached to aid in the operation. Getting back aboard is a problem for some. Usually getting up from the stern area, not necessarily from the back of the boat, but alongside back there, is the easiest. There is no dolphin striker at the bow cross beam that many other boats have that can serve as a step. Naturally, many sailors have souped up their Waves. A jib kit and even a small asymmetrical spinnaker are available from Hobie Cat. Others, like Rick White, have put a long sprit with a furling “hooter,” in addition to a small jib, on theirs. Reportedly he finishes within a fleet of Hobie 16s www.southwindsmagazine.com