On boats prior to 1973, the number stamped on the front pylon is a serial number. There is no "date code." It's just the number (presumably sequential) that the factory stamped on the pylon to identify the boat.
#808 would be a very old boat, circa 1972 (the year Hobie 16s were first manufactured).
In 1973, the federal government mandated "Hull Identification Numbers" - HINs - in a specific format (similar to Vehicle Identification Numbers - VINs) for all boats manufactured in the US. Your boat predates that.
Thanks so uch for the reply. Here is where I get confused. (Got to love the internet) This information is taken from the Wikipedi sight and contradicts the 1972 date. Can you explain or direct me to more information.
The company founder, Hobart Alter, began as a surfboard manufacturer in the late 1950s. According to another source, Alter's focus changed in 1961 to designing an easily beached fibreglass catamaran. The impetus of this shift is attributed to a 1961 boat show in Anaheim, CA which placed Alter in a booth selling surfboards, next to Art Javes, the designer of the new (1961) AQUA CAT 12 sailboat. That sailboat featured lightweight fibreglass hulls with an aluminium tube structure supporting a trampoline style deck for seating. The AQUA CAT catamaran did well in shallow water, but relied on dagger boards to reduce slippage sidewise under sail. Dagger boards were also used by the much heavier Pacific Cat from 1960. That design featured a solid fibreglass deck on a 19' x 8' boat, giving it a weight of almost 500 pounds. Following the 1961 boat show, Alter contacted Arthur "Art" Javes, designer of the AQUA CAT to tell him he was also entering the fledgling catamaran market. The first Hobie Cat is credited with being first built in 1965 and featured a structure similar to the AQUA CAT, but slightly heavier with rockered hulls that did not rely on dagger boards. This design was more readily beached than the AQUA CAT or Pacific Cat.
From 1967 on, the new Hobie Cat Company went on to become the largest manufacturer of small catamarans in the world. In 1967, Alter designed the Hobie 14 Catamaran. Alter wanted to make a boat that could be easily launched into the surf. In 1969, Hobie released the Hobie 16, the most popular catamaran ever and the most competitive catamaran class in the world. Over 135,000 Hobie 16 Cats are sailing around the world. The Hobie 18 in 1976, Hobie 17 in 1985, Hobie 21 in 1987, Hobie 18SX in 1989, Hobie 17 Sport in 1990, Hobie 20 in 1991, Hobie 21 Sport Cruiser in 1992, Hobie Wave in 1994, Hobie TriFoiler in 1995, the Hobie Getaway in 2000, then the Hobie Bravo in 2002.