The FX-1, a boat for “all the right reasons!”
As I neared 60 myself, my aging 18 was falling further and further behind the new technology found in the Hobie Miracle and Tiger. I found myself wanting the option of single-handing, was looking for a lighter & smaller cat, and wanted the higher performance capability of new sail & hull designs. On a cold day in January 2003, SUNJAMMERS’s Brad Stephens, my local Hobie dealer here in Panama City, Florida, shared with me the specs and pictures of the “new” FX-1, and I ordered sight unseen!
The FX-1 arrived in record time sporting immaculate racing hardware. It shares many of the characteristics of its big brothers, the Miracle and Tiger, but weighs only 275 lbs! When fully rigged in a stout breeze, this is not a boat for “kicking back with a beer.” But if you want a quick and responsive cat that adapts its sailing personality to a combination of sail plans, then read further. Originally designed with the single main, taking my 9 yr. old niece Catherine and her friend Kim into the Gulf of Mexico to play with the dolphins was smooth sailing, without the “macho.” Catherine’s response, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my whole life” made this uncle’s day. Unfurl the optional jib kit and 2nd trapeze and you’re on the wire in relatively light air. But the new spinnaker I sailed with last weekend for the 1st time adds a dimension of performance that should allow the FX-1 to keep up with its larger brothers.
This lighter, shorter, and faster boat needs a little getting used to. The heavier sailing platform feel of the larger Hobies is gone. For the 1st time I have to be careful on a jibe in heavy air, but it’s the kind of challenge one doesn’t mind getting used to! The FX –1’s potential to point high with the jib, and higher still without it, is tempered only by how deeply one wishes to push down those long daggerboards. In heavy air and on the wire, a board part way up allows the boat to “skip” laterally in a puff and drive forward instead of raising a hull. But now I’m getting into sailing style, and my “point on the learning curve” indicates the FX-1 is for the present doing the teaching.
If there are any draw backs to the FX-1 package, the hot stick provided will not clear the side shrouds and trapeze when retracted. So….shortened it immediately….or later if you like the challenge of getting hung up during a critical maneuver.
I have noticed several comments in the forum about the hulls of the higher performance cats being “fragile.” With more glass comes more weight…hello! Radically new production techniques and in-hull bracing have proven hull strength on the water, and that’s where I sail. But if you like to sail your boat over rocks, sand bars, oyster shells, and drag them around on the beach, the heavier built 14, 16, and 18 are better suited. The FX-1 package provides custom cradles (4) for your trailer and additional cradles (2) for your Cat Tracks.
Unlike its big brothers, the FX-1’s flat bottom design tends to plane on the tops of the water/waves, reducing drag, and giving an entirely new “feel” in a breeze. The radical bow design pierces waves without burying up on some points of sail, and they ride with the first three feet out of the water on other points of sail and wind conditions. Watching this variety of bow entry from the trapeeze can be mesmerizing! Weight placement seems as much a part of tuning this craft as the multitude of its hardware designed to power up or power down.
I guess the reader can tell I’m “stoked on this boat!” Its not only a “boat for all seasons” with its ability to handle all sailing conditions short of one of our Florida hurricanes, but it is a “boat for all the right reasons.” Light, fast, multiple sail plans, and the option of having a crew makes the FX-1 Hobie’s most versatile creation to date. I want to think they built it for an old-timer like me, who thought he’d seen, sailed, and owned Hobie’s best……until the FX-1!!!
Thomas W. Duke
Reader may wish to weigh credibility against writer's history with Hobie products.
·Attended college in Hawaii (1962-1966) and became familiar with the large beach cats.
·Learned the Hobie name in surfboards represented quality & performance.
·Ran across a 1½-inch Hobie 14 advertisement in the back pages of “Boating Magazine” while living in a beach house on Mexico Beach, Florida (1970). Ordered sight unseen, I unloaded the two large boxes from a semi in my front yard, and with the instruction book put my first Hobie Cat together.
·Since there were no Hobie dealers in Florida, I dealt with the factory direct when needing new parts. I was asked to be a dealer, but had to decline because of other responsibilities. Fort Lauderdale took the 1st Florida’s dealership (as I recollect), and the rest is history
·I sailed in the Gulf of Mexico for the next 3 years and never saw another catamaran, but I answered a lot of questions. By the fourth year our beach came alive with Hobies. After seeing pictures of Hobie’s new 16’, I had a jib made by a local sail maker using Hobie 16 hardware. Hobie would later market this sail combo as the 14 Turbo. I am proud to possess a letter from Hobie Alter himself, dated 1972, in reply to correspondence from me praising his sailing creation.
·Eventually I brought a 16 (1976), got into racing on a dare from a friend, and was hooked when my wife and I took 1st place in “C” Fleet in our first race weekend. I moved up to “B” fleet, and up to an 18 (1977) that I wore out racing. I bought a 2nd 18, this time in “black anodized aluminum.” My wife and I raced about everyother weekend during the sailing season for years. It was normal for us to sail the “White Knight” to one of the first 4 trophies by Sunday afternoon, and that was back when fleets were larger.
·A year and a half ago my wife was in SUNJAMMERS, our local Hobie shop, and saw a Hobie kayak. We ordered a tandem immediately….with pedals. When the sail kit became available I was the first locally to order the original (larger) sail, again sight unseen. Like all other Hobie products of the past, workmanship, hardware, and performance are tops in the industry!