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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 8:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 6:56 am
Posts: 822
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Even though I grew up close to Hobie Alter's old SoCal stomping grounds, and we are about the same age, I never met him, never surfed with him, nor did I know anything about his kayaks until much later when I got interested in kayak fishing in late 2003. At that time I joined the KayakFishing Stuff.com Board, as well as this one, shortly thereafter. A great indicator to me of how Hobie has taken the bit and run with it regarding kayaks, and especially Mirage Drive kayaks, is the number of posts on KFS.com that have been recorded for many of the major kayak manufacturers in the world.

So, what if we were to use the number of forum posts on the biggest kayak Internet site (KayakFishingStuff.com) as an indicator of the top kayak manufacturer? Back in early 2004 when I first started researching yaks and yak companies, Hobie not only was NOT among the top manufacturers of kayaks (in terms of number of posts on the KFS Forum), but had only about half the number of posts as the leading company had. Today, that has completely reversed itself. Here are the posting stats as of 2300, 23 August 2006.

1. Cobra kayaks: 58 topics, 415 posts
2. Emotion kayaks: 136 topics, 1382 posts
3. Heritage kayaks: 77 topics, 592 posts
4. Liquid Logic: 24 topics, 235 posts
5. Malibu: 136 topics, 1153 posts
6. Ocean: 334 topics, 2587 posts
7. Wilderness Systems: 261 topics, 2386 posts
8. Other yak manufacturers: 137 topics, 1650 posts

AND then, there's Hobie who completely blows away all the competition when it comes to topics and posts on KFS.

9. Hobie kayaks: 918 topics, 9313 posts.

That works out to be 3.6 times as many posts as their nearest competitor, Ocean Kayaks-pretty remarkable! Now, we can argue about how valid such an indicator as post number is, but I personally think it is a testament to Hobie's commitment to building a quality product, and then following up that commitment by having world-class support for its products that has paved the way for them to attract this much world-wide attention. I think it is safe to say that we are all proud to use, and to be associated with Hobie products. Sooo--to answer my own question above, I would have to say that would be an affirmative! Way to go, Hobie, and well done!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:46 pm
Posts: 2424
Location: Escondido
That's a very interesting comparison, Dick! Not only more topics, but more posts per topic than any other single brand!

Not only does this indicate the comparative number of Hobie kayaks on the market, but the recent changes you mentioned point more specifically to Hobie's growth in sales volume.

These numbers also tell another story -- Hobie is single handedly leading the industry in design and product innovation. This reminds me of how the development of mountain bikes completely revolutionized the entire cycling industry; only there it was done by several companies. One of the local dealers who went to the recent OR show commented that Hobie was singularly the star of the show with their new products.

Think about it. During the past year, Hobie has produced new hull designs, continual cockpit refinements, new sail developments, new drive fins, new accessories. The rest of the industry combined hasn't even come close. They did the same thing last year! This has got to generate a lot of enthusiasm!

So let me echo your final comment: "Way to go Hobie"!! 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:28 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:32 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Out There
Being a lifelong surfer in San Diego county, Hobie Alter is a well known figure, almost all of us have owned a Hobie surfboard in our lives. Not far from where I live is a beach known to longtime locals as "Catamaran Beach"; a small, semi-secluded beach where it is said that Phil Edwards, the guy generally regarded as the man who invented what would later be known as the "Hobie Cat", built his first catamaran. Edwards, known around here as the original "Tamarack Kid", was the first man to surf the famous "Banzi" Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu.
For years my friends and I had a "community" Hobie cat built from parts that we sailed and surfed around the Tamarack Kid's former stomping grounds, running over out of town surfers with the Hobie in five foot waves when they figured they could "drop in" and outrun a 16' Hobie. We used to break a lot of parts, especially rudders, and would always be able to find a fellow sailor/surfer at Hobie Oceanside or Hobie Dana Point to "bro deal" us a rudder or some other hardware to keep the boat in the water.
As far as kayaks go, I would think that Ocean Kayaks up in the Pacific NW was probably the first big "mass production" kayak company. While Hobie's background is surfing and sailing, Ocean Kayak's background would be traditional sit inside kayaks used mainly for white water kayaking and inland water touring. Some companies made "sea touring" kayaks, but these are mostly long, skinny boats designed for Nanook of the North.
I think the sit on top kayaks are a new branch of kayaking(and watercraft in general) that is more "open", available to more people of different physical abilities, can be used in a wide range of water and weather situations, easy to own and maintain, and easy to quickly throw the kayak and gear in your vehicle(as opposed to "trailering up the boat"). I believe SOT kayaking is now in it's formative days and will quickly grow. I've seen this happen with surfing, snowboarding and mountain biking; sports that started as a few people outside the mainstream that are now "extreme" and Olympic sports. We have always considered surfing as the original "extreme sport".
Were Hobie may have an edge, aside from the sailing and surfing background, which is a big asset in itself, is their willingness to listen to the people who own their watercraft and use that feedback to improve the designs of their boats. Team riders gave Hobie surfboard shapers the feedback needed to make better boards, racers throughout the world provide data to improve Hobie's sailboats and now kayakers(as you can see in this forum and others) are letting them know what they like and dislike about their kayaks. It appears that they have been listening to what their kayak users are saying by coming out with new models that seem to be in line with what current boat owners would want to buy next and by fixing any design or production defects that become apparent in widespread use.
Hobie, as well as the other SoCal kayak manufacturer, Cobra, both have great customer service and take good care of the people who use their kayaks. I applaud both these companies for this and wish more businesses would abide by this philosophy.
All in all, Hobie is a very good company in a great new sport.

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