Hobie Forums

Heavy sailor?
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Author:  Goat [ Tue Oct 13, 2020 2:12 am ]
Post subject:  Heavy sailor?

This is a bit of an awkward question for y'all, but I'm wondering if I'd be able to handle a Hobie 16 at my size and weight. :lol:

So let me give some backstory...I'm 6'4" and weigh around 300 lbs (I'm a big dude). I'm strong, but not nimble, and I've seen a lot about having to be super nimble to sail a Hobie 16. I already have the boat in the backyard as it was given by a family friend a few years back. I've wanted to sail it ever since it was given to us, but, admittedly, I've been afraid of either being too heavy for the boat, flipping it (which would suck in the lake I live near--it's an agricultural storage lake and swimming strictly isn't allowed), or otherwise not being able to get back onto it if I fall off (This is the biggest worry for me). I've done a bit of sailing with a PDRacer I built, so I'm familiar with the basic concepts of sailing. I'm just not sure if I can handle sailing it alone and at my size. I've been considering selling it and buying something a bit larger and more "family friendly" (slow and steady), but I keep hearing how much fun a Hobie 16 is, so I keep wondering if I'd be missing out on a ton of fun by selling the boat.

Side question: I'm also curious, is there a "slow mode" on a Hobie 16? Like, does anyone just go out on a Sunday afternoon cruise with their boats? I get that to go slow you just don't pull in the mainsheet as hard, but with that much sail and mast, I'd imagine that might not be as easy as it sounds.

Any suggestions or wisdom is highly appreciated. I've been pushing myself to make a post like this for some time, but kept chickening out at the last second.

Author:  speed633 [ Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

Sounds like you are the perfect size to solo a H16. Wait for a nice day with a light breeze and get out there.

flipping: hobie's are very stable boats, with very big sails. On a calm day you won't be able to flip your boat unless you hang off the side of it, or sit at the very back corner. On a windy day your weight will give you a lot more stability.

unflipping: It takes around 250 lbs to right a H16, you should be able to flip it back pretty easily.

getting back on: very easy. Climb onto a hull directly in front of the front crossbar. From there climb onto the tramp.

nimble requirements: you have to crawl under the boom to tack. As you progress in skill you may want to get out on the wire. Trapezing is fun and requires more controlled movements.

Slow days: If it is really windy (gusting to 30mph) it is hard to do anything but go moderately fast. If the wind is blowing 5-10mph you will have an easy day. For now just avoid going out when it is too windy. When you think you are ready for higher winds do some research. There are a lot of techniques to sailing cats on windy days and some of them seem counter-intuitive at first.

Sails: You will want both the jib and the main. Sailing without the jib makes it very difficult to tack. Sailing without the main makes it difficult to go anywhere but downwind.

Author:  dorienc [ Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

And you can reef the sail in high winds. It seriously depowers the boat. I had reef points sewn into my Getaway mainsail, and I think they are standard on the 16.

Author:  speed633 [ Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

Reefing points disappeared around '85, same time the comp-tip was introduced. If you have them they do make a big difference. I would recommend giving the reef points a try on a calmer day to figure things out. Heavy weather is not the best time to try new things. Reefing the sail is a much better way to engage "slow mode".

Also, if you find the boom is too low to comfortably tack, reduce your mast rake by moving the shroud adjusters to the top holes. You will sacrifice a little performance... but not enough to notice until you are racing.

Author:  rattle 'n hum [ Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

You are not too heavy for a H16.
You don't have to be especially nimble to sail a H16
You do need to plan on capsizing, righting, and getting back on the boat. If you can't do that on your local lake, haul it somewhere else to practice. You are heavy enough to right the boat solo with proper technique, assuming the mast and hulls don't leak. A rope ladder/step or such can make getting back on the boat easier.
Slow mode......stick to low wind days and travel the sails out. Sheeting out is fine to avoid a dump, but it actually increases power. If you're having to sheet out a lot, it's better to travel out and sheet in....less power/heel and more speed/fun.
I know a guy bigger than you that can sail the snot out of a H16 (granted he's VERY experienced with it). The only problem he's mentioned to me is, when doing a traditional tack in really big wind/waves (with all his weight necessarily on the back of the boat), the boat will wheelie into a capsize. The same thing can happen to lighter crews in those conditions (especially if the jib is allowed to backwind), and there are ways to work around it.
Like almost any activity, H16 sailing can be enjoyed at many levels. There are tons of H16 sailors out there just cruising and fooling around for fun, but only a few competing for a North American Championship.
You already have the boat.....it only makes sense to give it a try. If you don't enjoy it (you won't be the first) then sell it.
All that said, boats that are "great deals" or "free" even (no such thing) and/or have been sitting around backyards for years are typically unsafe or just this side of it. If the rigging is old, things leak, parts are missing/don't work, etc., you're likely to have much bigger problems than your size or lack of nimbleness and experience.
All these things are best worked out with some experienced help. Maybe add your location to your profile and see if anyone here is nearby?

Author:  Goat [ Tue Dec 22, 2020 3:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

Thank y'all for your responses! I've decided to give the boat a shot once I fix it up. I don't expect to be perfect the first time by any means, but I'm definitely much less afraid to sail it now thanks to your responses. I should probably take it some place shallow and calm at some point and just practice righting the boat, too. That's a big concern for me, so practice would definitely help.

Thanks again, everyone!

Author:  Hammond [ Wed Mar 03, 2021 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

You need to figure out a way to get back on the boat after you capsize and right it. You can use a loop in the jib sheet to step on as you pull yourself onto the bow, pull yourself up with the trap handle, make a rope ladder. Just figure it out before you sail it. Before you rig, get in the water next to the boat and try to get back on. This will all make sense from there. Being big and sailing the 16 is possible, but if you can not get back on the boat, it could be dangerous.

Author:  Tim H16 [ Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heavy sailor?

The only thing I would be concerned about is when you are heavier and standing on the side of a hull while up righting an older boat. I had an 82H16 that had solid hulls until I was up righting it about 3 years ago and it developed a severe case of the crunches (delamination) in the process.

Since I had stiffened the boat by epoxying the hulls/frame I had to find a "newer" set of hulls and frame (84H16) to rebuild.
I haven't pitchpoled or capsized this one yet (fortunately) because even if my hulls feel solid, I don't want to risk another outbreak of the crunches.

In the area that I solo sail in Clearwater, FL and in the Gulf of Mexico (when there is an onshore wind), I think I'll just drift ashore and then up right it in the shallower water instead of taking the risk of damaging the hulls standing on them in deeper water.

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