In 200 words or less, this is my humble opinion of what kind of boat the market needs and what can sell. I would like to share my thoughts and get this group to help design/specify criteria that a (one) boat would need to replace and modernize the Hobie 16 and 18. A one design class boat. Then I am hoping Hobie takes notice and fills my town with an exciting, modern and affordable boat again.
First I would like to say that I acknowledge that the 16 is the most successful production sailboat ever designed and produced. The 18 is my favorite but unfortunately there is just not enough left to generate much excitement. Both boats in my opinion are too old to ever be considered “in style” and mass marketable. The Hobie Brand has a loyal following and I think it is important that this group embrace “what’s next” instead of holding on to something that will die with the average age of the person racing/sailing them. We need “What’s next”. We need to attract the younger sailor that is evolving from an ever greener society. Now is the time to create “What’s Next” in an economy moving towards $5 gas and less pollution. The boat should include some of the most modern aspects of cat innovations (square top sail, improved hull design, etc. etc.). The boat also should be designed to be cost efficient, easily produced and profitable for Hobie. It should also include features that would attract the competitive “one Design” racer. There is a market! I see it and it is wide open.
The Boat should generate excitement, grow with the users skills and be sailed in a variety of venues. The perfect boat is the updated (30 years of innovation) Hobie 16/18. Not a Ferrari or Corvette and not a Kia or Moped. This should be the Mustang or Camaro……..350ZX or RX7.
The Wild Cat is a GREAT boat!.......but, it is not for the beginning sailor and is not in the budget of the average person learning to sail. I would say that the H20 fits in the Wild Cat category also.
-A Basic package boat is going to be between $8,000 to $12,000. Upgrade options to include, rudders, spinnaker rig, sails, trailers, colors, down haul systems, waterproof Ipod sound systems in the tramp pockets
etc,etc. (To be provided as add -ons through a dealer or an on-line Hobie division designed to support a dealer).
-16-18 feet, less than 350lbs (hopefully not as weight sensitive as a H16)
-square top sail with modern materials. Mast should be able to carry different size sails for different weight crews.
-boomless ? Comptip?
-fiberglass with a sturdy bottom for beaching and durability.
-daggers or no daggers, asymmetrical or not, that is the question. This separates new boats from old but the daggers bring much complication to the new sailor and non-racers. Can a asymmetrical hull be designed that won’t pitch pole and doesn’t look like a Prindle? Remember, we want to be cool and attract new sailors.
-Racing weight minimum to be 300 with a mechanism to add weight for lighter crews or increase sail area for heavier crews .
-Boat should be able to be set up and sailed in under 30 minutes with just two people
-Boat designed for 2 people, not 3 or more.
-utilize as many existing Hobie parts as possible.
The most controversial question to the group is this,……..how to market them? The days of a Hobie dealer being right around the corner or in your town is gone. Can they be sold in a West Marine or other large venue and be successful? As much as I would like to support my local Hobie Dealer I can’t because there isn’t one. Maybe all the support and options can come from the few dealers out there. And how about an on-line way to order parts and or boats? Somehow our sport has totally missed the 21st century.
I hope Hobie doesn’t think I have overstepped the forum rules here and reads the replies with interest. I enjoy the Hobie people I have met and I want what is best for the “Hobie Way of Life”.