I got to borrow this little sweetheart for a day -- what a blast! This boat is a lot bigger than it looks in many ways. This entry focuses on its performance features and a follow up post discusses unpacking, packing and dimensions for those who are interested: http://www.hobiecat.com/community/viewt ... 6038#56038
Arrival at the lake:
Trying a little mock casting.
The capacity might surprise you -- "worlds smallest tandem":
As you can see, it scoots right along
With standard rudder, the initial turning moment is a bit slow, but once it gets going it really spins around.
Time for a trip out to the dam, about 2 1/2 miles away. Yes, all that wake is coming from this little scooter!
A breeze is starting to show up as the dam approaches -- good for sailing later.
Overall one hour distance 4.1 miles -- a little slower than the i12 but not bad at all for a 9 footer!
Time for sailing.
But first, note the recent change to a beefier hook for the stays. It's also easier to adjust with a simple slip knot (and a little practice).
The boat is so small, the Hobie sail finally looks proportional! Sailing is a blast! The wind picked up (camera battery died, so no pics) and was gusting to about 20 MPH. The boat never felt unstable -- the sail just heeled over by itself (hull flex) to dump wind. The boat got up to 4.4 MPH without any help from the fins. The ride was much drier than with the standard boats. Even with the mast raked forward and the large sailing rudder there was a significant weather helm with high wind -- at times hard to control. The boat tracked surprisingly well beating into the wind with Turbofins serving as daggerboards. These dockside shots were taken while getting underweigh:
Very stable (not as much as the larger i12 though). Dry, maneuverable, and quick for its size. Paddling was much easier with the i9 than with the larger inflatables and even pleasant. Because of the tapered sides, there is much less chance to scrape your fingers on the rails.
Not surprisingly, handling is sensitive to weight placement in such a small boat. With an adjustable seat and pedals, it's easy to find an optimal position. Moving forward affords a bit higher cruising speed but less stable steering. In this position the hand needs to be on the rudder control at all times with the standard rudder. With body weight shifted further aft, directional control is more stable but the stern digs in a little with speed. The i9 was not overly affected by wind. Chop was very light while pedaling so no effect was observed.
The (optional) large rudder helps with initial turning, and is necessary (IMO) when sailing. Note -- all the inflatables require the "old" style sailing rudder; the newer "balanced" rudder does not fit.
Seat comfort is improved over my first test ride in the i12, but still is not quite as comfortable as the hard shells. Up and down rudder lines took two hands to operate, but the rudder control (tiller) operated very easily. The Click N Go Mirage Drive locking system was flawless.
Of all the inflatables, this boat was the most fun. Like a little sprite, it's light weight, quick to set up and eminently portable. The i9 will do everything any other kayak will and stow easily in the trunk or behind the driver's seat!