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PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:31 pm 
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Hi All,

Long story short - while solo sailing my brand-new TI in moderate winds/light seas, the rudder spontaneously snapped in half mid-fin. Pictures and narrative follow...I want to make sure that I wasn't somehow negligent before I try to get a replacement under the warranty. If there's another thread where this issue is discussed I apologize for the re-post.

Here's the deal...I purchased a new TI last month and have only had it in the water about five times. So far I've only had the chance to sail it with winds under 10 kts until today. Conditions were pretty much perfect this afternoon with winds about 15 kts and less than 2 foot seas. I was on my way home in 30-40 feet deep water and on a port tack beam reach, probably making about 8-9 knots, when the steering suddenly became unresponsive and the boat started to point up on its own. I had not struck anything in the water nor taken an unusually large swell...there weren't any unusual noises or vibes.

Based on perusing these forums I'm pretty well versed on all of the problems TIs have with their rudders (but up till today I've been pretty lucky with mine), so I just figured it had popped out. Once I got stopped I decided just to pull the rudder up and then redeploy it to reseat it...but when I pulled it up, this is what I saw...

Image

I was obviously a bit concerned...but was mostly relieved, since only 10 minutes before I had been out in the gulf where the conditions were more challenging. If it had happened out there I don't think I would have been able to successfully steer home using the paddle as a makeshift rudder. I had my VHF at the ready, but I would have considered it a major loss of cool-points if I'd had to call in the cavalry.

Some other pictures follow - but I'm all ears for suggestion/comment here. I didn't hit anything, and I really wasn't sailing the boat that hard. The sail wasn't reefed at all, but I definitely didn't have it powered up all the way, either. The boat had been cruising pretty much perfectly up to this point. I like this boat, but must agree with most other users that the rudder setup is less than optimal. Sailing a couple of miles home while dragging a paddle to keep the boat on course made me appreciate how much stress the rudder is under - the stock one is far too small. At the very least a reinforcing spar molded in to the rudder could probably have prevented this.

So...I assume this should be covered under my warranty? Any thoughts on what could have caused this?

Cheers,

-Charlie

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:08 am 
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Location: Kailua 96734
Classic looking stress fracture, starting on the starboard side.

I would guess a manufacturing defect, unless you noticed the rudder was chipped or scored, close to the waterline.

Anything happen on the trailer or while transporting the TI that may have torqued the rudder for any length of time? Or gouged the leading edge?

Been a bad week for rudders, people. Use caution out there.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:33 am 
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Location: Point Lookout, Maryland
I don't know what to say.

I'm glad to hear you made it back safely and didn't have to call the cavalry. I, too, have had to use a paddle for steering on our TI when the rudder lines no longer responded, and likewise I was really surprised at the amount of force the rudder is subjected to during sailing.

I hope that we hear soon from Hobie as to what their fix is for the rudder.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:16 am 
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Location: Texas
Wow!

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:47 am 
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Hi all,

Thanks for the replies. So I'm guessing no one has ever seen this one? I always have considered myself an innovator... :D

My initial assumption is that it was a stress fracture as well. The rudder definitely was in pristine condition prior to going into the water yesterday. There wasn't any pre-existing damage from previous outings or transport. I also don't keep it bungeed during storage to stave off any warping. Understanding that the rudder is the weak link on this boat, I try to pamper it as much as possible.

Based on this, I'm going to be adding an entire rudder assembly to my parts bag. Although I don't think I could have replaced this one on-water, I at least could have limped to safety and swapped it out on the beach.

Bottom line, if any of ya'll can fab an aftermarket heavy duty replacement rudder assembly, name your price.

Cheers,

-Charlie


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:50 am 
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Must have been one heck of a shark :shock:

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:58 am 
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All,

A couple more data points that I forgot to mention in my initial post - I'm 225 lbs. and was sailing from the rear seat. The centerboard was fully deployed and one mirage drive was installed. Additionally, I did not have the tramps on when this happened.

Obviously looking for any silver bullet here aside from a simple manufacturing defect. tspbrady - I hadn't considered the shark scenario but I'd like to think that's more plausible than a critical piece of the boat spontaneously breaking in half.

Cheers,

-Charlie


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:20 am 
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Location: South Florida (Coral Springs)
My rudder failure was a little different, but drives home the same point. See post:
http://www.hobiecat.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=28304
These two posts really demonstrate the force these rudders must endure. I'm sure many think my rudder breaking was negligence as well, but like you I was in 30 feet of water and had been sailing for at least 1/2 an hour before it occurred. In addition, mine had basically been sitting stationary on the beach for 2 previous sails, so there was no opportunity for transporting damage prior to the ill fated sail.
After my trip back trying to use the paddle as a rudder it really hit home the stress the rudder is under. I had to end up furling the sail and just peddling back as the wind was just too much for me and my paddle to handle.
If I get motivated enough I've been thinking of pulling one of my old fluid mechanics books out from college and trying to determine the actual force the rudder must endure when under way.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:24 am 
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Hi Flaneur,

Your post is a good one. I had read it previously and based on the discussion there was actually making a point yesterday (prior to the incident) to keep the sail appropriately trimmed and not attempting to overcome the TI's weather helm tendency with rudder alone. I'm not in the business of abusing my boat (not that you were), so I generally err to the side of caution when she starts talking to me...If I'd been holding a ton of starboard rudder while fully powered through crashing seas I might have forgiven a failure somewhere - but that wasn't the situation yesterday. In any case, I'm of the mind that the boat's components should be able to hold up during normal use and if something is to fail, the weak link shouldn't have been the rudder itself.

My only thought is that I perhaps should have been reefed a bit....however, like I said, I wasn't fully powered when it snapped and didn't think (IMHO) that I was working the boat that hard. I guess the other side of the coin is that if I had indeed been reefed, the reduced heel would have reduced weather helm rudder loads but been offset by those induced by a higher cruising speed. That makes my head hurt... :?

Cheers,

-Charlie


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:44 pm 
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Location: Point Lookout, Maryland
cmauze wrote:
I'm 225 lbs. and was sailing from the rear seat. The centerboard was fully deployed and one mirage drive was installed.

I'm just a few pounds lighter than you and always sail from the rear seat - and usually the front seat or upwind trampoline is occupied by Cindy - plus we're packing all the extra gear for safety redundancy (both Mirage Drives, two sets of paddles, an umbrella to use as a spare sail [don't laugh - it can move us faster than the drives], extra flotation cushions, offshore PFD's for both of us, towing lines, anchor, a gallon or more of water, spare parts, tools, cell phones, VHF, Garmin GPS, and food). I figure we're loading our TI with about 400 to 450 pounds total, each time we go out.

We bring so much safety gear with us now that I've abandoned the idea of kayak camping from the TI - there just isn't enough room and weight surplus for us to take all of our camping gear, plus all of the safety stuff.

It occurred to me when I checked our own TI rudder this morning... Could your rudder have snapped at the point where the injection molding takes place? I ask because our rudder has some swirls in the material that appear to be where the thermoplastic was injected into the rudder mold. I could not detect any material defects in my rudder and went out today for a 10+ mile sail on one of the local reservoirs - no issues here.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:59 pm 
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Hi Mitch,

I read you loud and clear on all the safety gear. The umbrella idea is a good one...what kind do you use that will handle the load? I carry a good bit of stuff around with me as well (the list is getting longer as I continually add to my spare parts bag) and I'm still learning the best ways to pack and stow everything. I'd be interested to see your configuration..what goes where and packed in what, etc...

Regarding where the rudder snapped, it's definitely a possibility that the point of failure was where the injection molding takes place - I'll have to take a look at my replacement to confirm. As you can see in the last close-up pic, it snapped just at the bottom of the rudder "catch" piece, which would make sense.

In any case, I have to insert a shameless plug for my local dealer - Liquid Surf and Sail in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I walked in there today with the remains of the snapped rudder in hand and was quickly sent on my way with a loaner from another boat in the store. The guys there said they'd order some more and swap me out with a new one when they came in - but wanted to make sure I could quickly "get back out on the water." Excellent customer service that'll make sure I get other parts and accessories from them as well, instead of an online retailer. Thanks Bobby!

Cheers,

-Charlie


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:44 pm 
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Location: Point Lookout, Maryland
cmauze wrote:
I read you loud and clear on all the safety gear. The umbrella idea is a good one...what kind do you use that will handle the load? I carry a good bit of stuff around with me as well (the list is getting longer as I continually add to my spare parts bag) and I'm still learning the best ways to pack and stow everything. I'd be interested to see your configuration..what goes where and packed in what, etc...

We use a colorful rainbow-hued golf umbrella from Wally's World - our local Hobie dealer was so tickled seeing pix of Cindy using it with her old Sport that he's posted it on his web page:
Image
It's amazing how fast we can go with that thing. Can't do close hauled, but it works fine on a beam reach and points further off the wind.

We pack everything into the TI bow hatch... period. We've found that anything in the round hatches eventually interferes with the steering and rudder lines - due to all the heavy thrashing and pounding we do in the Chesapeake chop - so we don't use the round hatches anymore.

Water (and I go through a lot of water) for me gets stored in the rear cargo bungies in the form of 1/2-liter water bottles. I also store the hand-powered bilge pump with the water bottles. Small items that can tolerate getting wet go into mesh bags and into the bow hatch. Anything that needs to stay dry is double bagged and goes into a dry bag; we have three dry bags and all of them go into the bow hatch. Each of us has a Stearn's floating boat cushion that goes behind our Hobie seat cushion.

We've culled everything else off of the deck to make sure we have quick and clear access to all the lines, Mirage drives, paddles, etc. Our offshore PFD's are *always* worn as soon as we're underway.

We learned the hard way during our first rudder failure that the safety gear comes first before anything else.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:33 pm 
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All,

Apparently when it rains it pours...It looks like another user had an identical failure on the same day as mine. See that post here http://www.hobiecat.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=30060&p=120235#p120235.

When I went in to my dealer today, he gave me a loaner part to use for a while until my replacement TI rudder comes in. What I didn't realize is that the TI-specific rudder (part number 88991185 "rudder assy / TI blade") is different from the "large sailing rudder" - part number 81397001. I'm interested to see if the boat will be at all manageable with the smaller rudder installed - has anyone tested this? I'm skeptical, but it should be fun to try.

More importantly, after getting the temporary rudder replacement in hand, a visual comparison of the two is somewhat telling regarding why the TI's may be more prone to the type of failure now experienced by at least two of us. Shown below are the TI rudder (top) and the large sailing rudder on the bottom.

Image

Image

What I hadn't realized prior to comparing the two is (A) just how much of the TI rudder's surface area is forward of its pivot point (probably aiding reducing the forces needed to turn the rudder), and (B) how "skinny" the rudder is at exactly the point where mine snapped. There are a lot of lateral forces (and some torque, as well) being applied to a very small cross-sectional area there.

I'm interested to hear some of the Hobie folks' opinion(s) on this one when the get back from the China trip...I'll be in Afghanistan by then, but maybe by the time I get back they'll have engineered a fix!

Cheers,

-Charlie


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:07 am 
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Good luck with your trip!

I, too, was amazed when I first saw the size difference between the "large" rudder and the TI rudder. I was also pretty irritated when I discovered the TI rudder has a much reduced angle of swing compared to the rudders we were accustomed to using on our Sport and Outback last year.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Oh no, not another mode of rudder failure.

Time to seriously think about a quickly deployable backup rudder system.


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