Just like with buying a new car, would any of you want to spend $30k to buy a car from the '70s, even if it was brand new? Of course not. You pay top dollar to buy new so you can get a product that is not only un-used, but also built using the latest technology.
There have been a couple of comparisons between designing cars and sailboats throughout the course of this thread. I don't think that's an apples to apples comparison because the changes in automotive technology have been much more dramatic over the last 35 years than in beachcat technology. Additionally, car manufacturers aren't concerned about one-design racing and it's positive affect on sales or how the benefits of a one-design class benefit their customers.
Pearl vs H18 vs any other potential new One-Design? Few of us, if any, have ever sailed a Pearl, and some of us may not have sailed a Hobie 18 either. I'm sure that when Hobie Cat goes down the path of bringing another 16-18 footer on the market (or not), they'll sail various designs against one another, make lots of comparisons on the water, and performance will be a huge factor in their decision. I have no idea how a Pearl and an H18 will stack up against one another, let alone any of the other HC Europe products, but I would expect them to bring the best boat to market. There are benefits of going down either path. Simplicity and production costs will also be major factors. Again, those are factors that we don't have any insight into. Whatever HC decides to do, I have faith that they'll adequately research all the various factors and will make the right decision. I'm sure they've learned from some of their past mistakes. I love the H16 and I'm not concerned about any other boat usurping its place in the Hobie lineup. But I agree that another option may help get more sailors on the water or at least on a Hobie.However
, the highest priority needs to be designing boats aimed at getting new kids and families into sailing. I worked with youth sailing for several years when I was in Shreveport. Every summer, the club there conducted two weeks of summer sailing camps, around 40 kids in all each summer, primarily using Optis and Sunfish, and the retention rate was abysmal. In four years, maybe a half dozen continued sailing, sporatically at best. Despite the club's propensity for pushing monohulls, the few kids that did come back where the ones that me or some of the other Hobie sailors took out on our cats. The numbers of sailors nationwide, in nearly every major class, has been on the decline for nearly three decades. Sales of H16s and H18s didn't necessarily decline because they were old designs. Maybe the numbers of active sailors have gone back up a little in recent years, I'm not sure. But what I can tell you is that the emphasis has to be on youth boats - boats that will bring kids into the sport or that families can sail together. If you can find a way to hook numbers of kids on sailing early, you'll sell a lot more intermediate and advanced boats as they mature, whether it's a Pearl, H18, H16 or whatever. I think the real discussion needs to be Wave vs Tatoo vs the possibility of some new design aimed at the youth market. Maybe another Getaway type of boat would be a better family boat? Don't know, never sailed one. But to have any meaningfull increase in cat sales, or sales of any other sailboat, the focus has got to be on bringing more youth into the fold. Hobie is well aware of that.
By the way, although there are a lot of different opinions regarding the various designs, some of them contrary to my own, I think this is a great discussion. I would think that the folks at Hobie Cat are paying attention.