I had been told by our local Hobie rep, Rob Abbott, not to worry too much about the turning radius of the Adventure that I drove at the Wilderness Way demo day a couple of weeks back (8 October 2005). He said that the rudder had been re-designed, and that a brand new rudder would be appearing on the latest production boats. So I have been very interested to see just what kind of changes the Hobie nautical architects and designers would be coming up with. Treetop just posted the pics of his new Adventure so I could finally see whassup.
Veddy interesting, as Charles Gibson (I think) used to say. Here in the top pic is the rudder that appeared on the first or second Adventure to come out of the shop, about early to mid-2005 or so.
And here is the rudder now showing up on the brand new 2006 Adventures (late October, 2005), as photographed by Treetop on his boat.
First off, note the much longer length of the old rudder in the top pic. You can determine this by looking at the position of the handle and the drain plug in relation to the rudder tip on both boats.
Note also that the width of the old rudder was considerably greater than that of the new rudder in the bottom pic. Also note that the attachment point of the bracket is located off to one side on the new rudder, whereas on the old rudder it was in the middle of the blade. Actually, it looks as if the attachment point may be the same on both, but on the new rudder material has been “shaved” off the side closest to the starboard side of the boat to make the width considerably smaller. Although it is hard to eyeball an estimate in the size reduction, I would guess that the new rudder is about 25 to 30% shorter and 25 to 30% narrower than the original design. However, the overall shape seems to be about the same. Hobie also has a useful tie-down bungee to secure the rudder on deck, and during loading and unloading (shown in the secured position in the lower pic). I also appreciate the fact that Hobie has seen fit to retain the larger diameter, foam-covered handle of the older Outbacks. This is much more comfortable to use on a heavier boat.
As far as performance goes, I have only tested the old rudder. As Rob warned me, it was clear that the turning radius with the old BigA rudder was rather poor compared to my Outback. Once underway with the Mirage drive, my OB can execute a turn pretty much within, to perhaps slightly more than, its own length. But the BigA turning radius was considerably more than 1-2 boat lengths with the old rudder. The first owner's reports that are now arriving suggest that the turning radius problem has been solved with the new rudder. So--I will be looking forward to testing the boat again to see just how much things have improved with regard to steering and handling.