Here are my comments. This goes for the Hobie 14 and 16 proposed changes:
The best thing about the 14 and 16 has been that they are "simple boats". Most of the proposed changes defeat this. I have personally owned 5 Hobie 16's and raced them for many years along with the 14 as well. I have also worked as a dealer before working for the factory in the USA. I have seen these kinds of changes from several perspectives and witnessed the negative response to some. From my experience, these kinds of things are not necessarily good for the class. In my opinion, there is no point in making continuous changes to the older classes that fragment them more and more. There is a thought process that says "making changes might invigorate a class", but honestly, I think it just alienates most of the class in the lower ranks. They just want to sail the boat as is. New stuff is a cost and a learning curve.
I can agree with the rotation control and perhaps the downhaul, but not the mast step ball and outhaul changes. That would be a big pain in the ass to retrofit and I don't see the need. Trying to make this mast base "upgrade" on an older 14 or 16 would cause some real headaches for the boat owners. This is not simple and would be relatively expensive. There are some real problems with a freely rotating mast if the rotation control is not properly used. Over rotation can cause batten breakage, shroud wire and mast failures. I prefer the idea of cutting the existing stops back (IF they want to) and leaving a safety "maximum" stop if someone wants to add the rotation control arm. That is simple and achieves the most important thing... rotation limit control.
It seems this is mostly being driven by Hobie Cat France. Hobie USA has not made a proposal for a major change... we don't see a need for it. The 16 sailors that I have spoken to are acting like a bunch of deer in headlights. They are somewhat confused by the process. They see this as being somehow forced on them regardless of their opinions as though we HAVE to do these things. The active 16 racers I have spoken with all agree that the rotation control is the main tem of interest. The downhaul purchase idea is acceptable and the 16 jib halyard system (not shown in this Hobie 14 based email) would require a secure cleat to back up any jaw cleat.
So, my proposal:
Leave the step system alone and allow the addition of a rotater bar. The stops can be cut back a little, but a maximum rotation angle should be determined for safety.
Allow the downhaul adjustment system.
Allow the addition of a cam cleat in the jib halyard system, but require it in-line with the existing horn cleat for safety.
The rest of the proposals (outhaul, base/ball step system) are just not needed and are difficult and likely expensive upgrades for all existing boats.
US sailors need to make their opinions known to the IHCA rules committee. Look at the proposed changes at http://www.hobieclass.com
/Rules Forum and then Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
with your comments.
I have never understood why Hobie insists on keeping the American boats so antiquated while they quickly upgrade and improve the Euro boats. >>
Hobie USA adhears to the Hobie Class rules and allows the sailors to decide what changes should be made. The basic concept of a "One Design" class is lost when manufacturers constantly make changes to the design. This concept prohibits us from just making any old change we want to make just to sell a few more boats. This has been a problem in Europe whether driven by the sailors there or not.