In the 1970s I fell hard for the Hobie® 14 sailing catamaran. I was young and excitable. It didn’t take much to turn my head. I gave up my monohull sailboat when I realized I could travel twice as fast with half the effort. The Hobie 14 was affordable and so much fun. I’d invite a friend aboard. Imagine, just ten minutes of rigging and off we’d go.

Occasionally other beach cats caught my eye. I didn’t stray, not then. I could launch the Hobie 14 solo, put the mast up, go for a pleasure sail or race like a maniac, then pull the boat back up the beach by myself.

Now, let’s talk about racing. Pleasure sailing is a part of racing, right?
In the early 1980s I was fortunate to race the Hobie 14 against some of the best International Hobie Class Association competitors. I sailed well at the 1981 French championship, and competed in the European championships at Lago di Garda in 1983. That’s when my eye wandered. I took a little break and jumped on the more powerful Hobie 16, but I never forgot my first love.

When it was time to introduce my son to Hobie sailing a few years back, guess what I bought? Yes, a Hobie 14. Why? Because it is fun. Returning to this boat was exciting, just as it had been all those years ago. I started racing the 14 again, in Delaware, just to see how it would go. I sailed against a nice little fleet.

Finishing second motivated me to travel to Travemunde, Germany for the 2013 Hobie 14 World Championship. Forty of us had a blast sailing the Baltic Sea. At the end the feeling was universal. This little boat is so much fun.

Article image - Racing the Hobie Cat 14

Time flies. 2015 found me back in Italy on the famous Lago di Garda, this time for the Hobie 14 World Championship. I landed from Canada late in the day, with just enough time to take possession my new Hobie 14 from Hobie Europe. They called the first race for 8:00 the next morning — 2:00 a.m. for me and it’s blowing 35 knots.

There was no time to socialize, just put the sail up and go, go, go. I must have gone too far, or not far enough. Before reaching the first windward mark I’d already capsized six times. I headed back to shore for a break, and to wake up.

With the help of another great South African sailor I managed to get a proper downhaul. I was back on course in time for race three. With intense focus I got better and better finishes, getting closer to the lead. But is Blain Doods fast or what? All I saw were rudders.

Every day we sailed two or three races in the morning and another set in the afternoon. Lago di Garda is magnificent, with winds like nowhere else. I’d wake up with the thermal breeze no more than 15 knots. By the time I got to my Hobie 14 it was 25, with no time to waste since it’s going to stop at 11:30 a.m. At 2:00 p.m. the wind reversed course and once again filled our sails. Finishing top ten in the world was a great and motivating experience. I returned to Canada with happy memories of the camaraderie amongst the smiling sailors.

Back home, we hosted the Hobie 14 North American championship. We saw new sails, new faces and fresh blood in the class competition. The competitors, including more ladies than in my day, came for fun sailing, easy yet still challenging. The Hobie 14 class is truly resurrected. I can’t wait to do more Hobie 14 sailing in my club and abroad.

Article image - Why We Love the HC 14