MBounds is as nutty a Hobie owner as you'll find. He keeps three boats in a three-car garage, has been sailing Hobies for 30 years, is and has been very involved in HCA and his local racing, and has been banging the drum of how great catamaran sailing is . . .
If Matt Bounds is a nutty Hobie owner, then I'd be proud to be called one too. His efforts at organizing events, editing the Hotline, working long hours for the class association and his extensive help to others on this forum are a huge reason that we have what's left. I wish my three Hobies were in a three car garage (actually the 14 is inside getting new gel-coat).
The concern and passion that many of us have for this sport is wonderful. To grow our numbers, however, passion must be channeled into action. Join the HCA. If you have a local fleet, get involved. If not, start one with whoever lives within a reasonable distance. Talk to people and see who they know that sails Hobies or other cats. Go to regattas and network. No Hobie events around? Check out TheBeachcats.com and find a schedule of open regattas and attend those. You'll enjoy the camaraderie and have fun sailing even if you're not a good racer. Racing will make you better. If you're lucky enough to be a member of a supportive yacht club, participate in club races and other activities. Ask friends and their kids to go sailing with you just for fun. Let the kids have some tiller time.
I was an avid Hobie sailor from 1977 to 1985. I got back into it in fall of 2008 when I bought a used 20. In summer of 2009 I emailed a bunch of folks in our club and asked them if their kids had any interest in sailing catamarans. Three showed up, we sailed, and within a year all three of them had a Hobie 16, one of them purchased brand new from a dealer. We worked with Matt Bounds, Chris Wessels and the Division 14 Chair, John Eaton, and reinstated Fleet 401. Our membership is now around 13 boats, three purchased new.
In 2011 we hosted a points regatta, Holiday In Dixie, in coordination with the Shreveport Yacht Club. 12 boats showed up and we had a blast. In 2012, 19 boats came from as far away as Minnesota and Florida. I doubt anyone would have traveled to Shreveport for a Hobie regatta had Coco Hudson and I not been meeting other sailors at their events. I’ve found that attendance is somewhat reciprocal. One of our youths, Max Hudson, crewed in the 2011 Youth and Open H16 NACs. In 2012, he crewed with Geoffrey Nelson at the Sausalito Open NACs and at the Youth NACs in Annapolis, they took second place.
My point is not to blow my horn, but to demonstrate what can be done with a modest level of effort. There’s no harm in spewing ideas, I’d like a few more good ones myself. But those of us that aren’t willing to get involved and take action to increase participation in sailing or even join the HCA don’t have any business complaining.
A few other points: 1) I’ve owned seven Hobies and bought five of them new from dealers, the last being a new H16 in November of 2011. I’ve owned Tequila Sunrises and Cat Fevers, but I think my new Seabreeze is as pretty as any of the legacy patterns. If you don’t like the current offerings, Hobie will build you a set of custom sails and you can pick from several colors in their palette. Coordinate through a dealer and be ready to pay a little extra. 2) I happened to be in the Northeast (yes, to me Annapolis is Northeast) a couple of weeks ago and dropped in on the youth NACs one afternoon. Awesome event. The HCA contributed significant dollars towards securing a venue and putting the Hobie brand out there at the Junior Olympics. 3) There have been a few gripes about our 40+ year-old design. The H16 isn't for everyone, but for a lot of us, it's the best jack of all trades. It's not the fastest nor is it complex - and that's what many of us like about it. Simplicity is a virtue (my other boat is a 20). Hard to tack? Not once you learn how. The jib hangs on the mast in light air? Whoopty Do! Sheet in the jib and give it a hard whack just below the first batten. These boats are classics for a reason.