Has anyone else had a problem with their rudder casting breaking? Mine broke at the bottom rudder pin hole. I had just changed the pin the day before. They have broken on me pretty regularly (about every 20-25 trips). I usually am only going out in under 15 kts. But, when it gets over 15, there seems to be a large side load on the rudder. Even with the down line pulled tight, the rudder will want to kick up and you lose steering. You have to stall the boat and wiggle the rudder to get it to come back down. Anyway, like I said after about 20 trips (usually I'm out for about 3-4 hours each) the pin seems to have weakened enough so that when I go out in over 15 kts it just snaps at the bottom. Sometimes I have limited steerage after it breaks, but usually I lose all steerage. I now carry a half a kayak paddle (I'm a quadriplegic and can't actually paddle with a paddle) to use as an emergency rudder. Luckily, the AI can maintain a fairly straight course without any rudder. In stronger winds, if you swing the daggerboard back a bit and furl the sail a bit, the boat becomes pretty balanced. Of course, without any way to steer (the first times I was just dragging a hand in the water), it's difficult to come about or make quick course corrections to avoid obstructions.
Anyway, the last time I went out was with the new pin and it was over 15 kts. About a half hour into the sail on a beam-broad reach, the rudder popped up like the pin had broke. I wasn't pleased, since it was a new pin. But, when I got in, I discovered it was the rudder casting and not the pin. This really concerns me because the pins are pretty weak in the first place and I figured the reasoning is that they would be sacrificial and keep other parts from breaking. I'm not happy about having to replace the pin so often (not to mention that my day of sailing is ruined since I can't do any repairs on the water), but I was resigned to accepting the inevitable. However, when the weak (and somewhat cheap) rudder pin doesn't break and the casting does, then I'm much more concerned.
Hobie would not cover the casting under warranty, because they claim it could've broken if I hit something. Now, I was in deep water and didn't hit anything, but how does one prove that. Luckily, the casting isn't too expensive (about $60 for a whole new rudder assembly since they don't sell the casting alone). But, it is a hassle getting it changed since I have to rely on help for that and you have undo and reconnect all of the rudder lines. In any case, I guess I'm just ranting a bit (sorry), but I'm curious as to whether this might be a problem others have had (especially those in high wind areas), or whether maybe I just had a bad casting.