Welcome to the new age of Hobie 14 Sailing.
During the late days of January, whilst the summer sun was still shining and the blissful nor-easterly sea-breezes were still blowing, two young Cowboys decided to go for a sail.
For one lad in particular, however, it wasn’t just any sail. For Bryn Robinson-Mills, the current NSW/VIC Hobie 14 Youth Champion from the Vincentia Sailing Club, Jervis Bay, it was the first time he went for a sail on a ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid’.
But for the majority of you, you may be wondering … what on earth is a ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid’? So, let us give you some context.
The Australian Hobie 14 Resurgence..
If you haven’t been living under a Hobie 14 that’s been left out to pasture or on the banks of a lake, you may have witnessed a slight resurgence in the original off-the-beach catamaran over recent years. Over the past few years, numbers have been steadily building at Hobie events around the country.
During the 2018-19 Nationals, 9 boats made the journey to Adelaide. Whilst in 2020, 8/13 boats made it to the VIC/NSW States respectively. However, during February of 2021, 28 Hobie 14’s congregated in Jervis Bay, NSW to compete in the infamous ‘Quinny Regatta‘. Where this was backed up in incredible fashion at the start of 2022, when 35 Hobie 14s met on the start line to compete in the NSW State Championships at the Vincentia Sailing Club, in Jervis Bay.
This resurgence has brought together many sailors, both young and old, experienced and inexperienced, to a number of regattas over the past few years. We’ve seen Hobie Legends jump back on the bucking broncos for the first time in decades, as well as bringing back members of our mob that the Hobie Family haven’t seen for quite some time.
Although most of the boats that have been racing as of late were built in the 70s and 80s, there has been an increase in new boats hitting the water. Slowly but surely, we’ve seen an increase of French-made Hobie 14’s hitting the water over the past couple years, thanks to our great mates from Hobie Cat Asia Pacific. These French 14s, iconic for their fluoro orange, green and yellow sails, have proven to be a hit. With boats turning up all around Australia, from Torquay to The Broadwater, and from Jervis Bay to the Swan River.
However, as we are all aware, Hobie Cats are iconic for their simplicity and durability. So, as we purchase three Hobie 14s off the street, strip them of their best bits, then by combining all the ingredients we have a half-decent boat … what do we do with all the leftovers?
Let’s turn to Mick Butler and Richard Quinn..
MB, the current Champ of the Hobie 14 in the Great Southern Land, and the Quinn-Dog, honorary and all-time Hobie Cat Legend, devised a plan to re-christian Quinny’s original Hobie 14, the ‘Puppy Dog‘. The process was simple..
Bash away the old hulls, making sure they kept them intact (the best they could). Strip out the old back beam, and insert a cut-down, integrated back beam from a Hobie 16. Unwrap and place in position a set of French-made Hobie 14 hulls. Slip the frame back on, glue her down and voila … you have a solid as a rock, light as a feather, and as smooth as a screaming reach in flatwater … ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘.
And that’s the story of the first ever ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘. The second of which is featured in the image below, and was sailed by MB in the recent NSW Hobie 14 State Championships … where if you weren’t already aware, he won outright…
So, now that you’re all caught up, let’s get back to the story..
On the particular day in question, the 16 year-old B.R-M, was unaccompanied on the water. His usual sparring partners, a battered ‘n’ bruised Butler and ‘Cheeky II‘ had decided to watch from shore. And it was in that decision, where I knew today was the day that the young gun, B.R-M, would take on the ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘.
After two hours on the water, this is what Bryn had to say:
“I had the pleasure of taking ‘Puppy Dog II‘, the one and only Richard “Quinn-Dog” Quinn’s Hobie 14, for a sail in a 20 knot sea-breeze on Jervis Bay. This was due to the fact that on the previous day, ‘Bad Becky’, my regular Hobie 14, decided to be a bad boat and once again broke down.
“Whilst on a screaming reach across the bay, ‘Bad Becky’s‘ gudgeons decided to give way, instantly sending a foreign object flying out the back of the boat. With a dreadfully loud crunch, I realised the whole starboard rudder assembly was dragging in water out the back of the boat. So, within seconds, I became a human teabag getting dumped in the water the boat bore away, eventually tipping in.
“After managing to make my way back to shore with one functional rudder, and the rest spread across the trampoline, I had the realisation I had no boat I could possibly sail in the cranking nor-easter that was forecast for the next day. It was very clear my boat repair was not going to be as speedy as those in the SailGP. This was where the suggestion of taking ‘Puppy Dog II’ for a fang in the sea-breeze, and from there the plan was put into action.
“As the new day dawned and the wind was blowing a steady 20 knot from the nor-east, one young, enthusiastic sailor was ready to hit the water. This time, however, he was sailing solo. My usual training partner, Pat, decided to ditch it after a ‘slight’ touch-up with the front corner-casting the day before.
“As soon as the Hobie 14 Hybrid hit the waters of Jervis Bay, the first thing I noticed was the incredible buoyancy that ‘Puppy Dog II’ had and just how high it sat out of the water. This added buoyancy made all the difference when shifting my weight anywhere remotely near the back of the boat. Instead of any 70’s or 80’s model Hobie 14 wanting to do the classic backwards roll, the ‘Puppy Dog II’ didn’t even budge backwards when standing on the transom. This took the fear of those high chop tacks right away, as she never wanted to put you in the drink with every wave that came beneath the boat.
“So, with the Hybrid 14 not wanting to dunk you in the pisser with every tack, it definitely made things interesting on the helm. However what turned up the dial even more was the fact that she didn’t want to push you through any of the chop on the upwind, as ‘Bad Becky’ would usually. Instead, the ‘Puppy Dog II‘ would bounce over the top of all the chop. Now, this is what you’d like in those light-breeze, mid-chop situations, rather than bobbing up and down, moving forwards at a snail’s pace.The one other thing I took notice of on the upwind leg was how smoothly and effortlessly the traveller moved with the new integrated back beam that had been slipped into the frame in conjunction with the French hulls.
“Now, as we move onto the real scary part of high winds and a feather-weight skipper on a Hobie 14. And that, my friends, is making it back to where you came from, by heading downwind.
“The big difference between this new Hybrid 14 and my old, faithful ‘Bad Becky‘, is that while bearing away or while navigating down the waves, it never once thought that Bryn was looking a little bit too warm in all his gear and needed a refreshing dip in the water, flinging him forwards into the bridal. The Hybrid 14 just wanted to keep the bows out of the water, no matter how hard I tried to sink them into the next wave. All they continued to do was float above the water, (which is technically what should be happening anyway) but it was ever so surprising how hard I could push the boat in the breeze.
“After concluding my session on the water, which lasted for almost 2 hours, I sailed back to shore, pulled the boat up, put the rollers under the boat, and started on the treacherous journey up the beach. But the journey up the boat ramp was an absolute dream with just how incredibly light the Hybrid 14 was. Pulling the boat up the beach truly felt like there was someone else giving me a hand. So, as I pulled her along the soft sand and up the ramp, I was shocked at how usually needing a whole pit crew to get up the ramp with any other boat, it was all but a dream.
“Once the boat was effortlessly pushed up to the rigging area, I walked around the back of the boat and started to undo the bungs. But I only got half way and they started pissing out air. This isn’t all that uncommon in most Hobie 14s, but as I tipped the boat up to empty all the water out, I was pleasantly surprised when not even a singular drop came out.
“Now compare that to your old 14 that is probably half filled with water, and think about how much extra weight you could be saving. Because I certainly did with dear, old ‘Bad Becky‘ who likes to get on the drink a little each sail.
“In all honesty, I don’t even know why so many people are still sailing around on the old 14s anymore which could leave you stranded in the middle of bay at anytime and why the whole fleet isn’t sailing with a new set of legs under their boat because it certainly isn’t matter if I’ll get new hulls it’s a matter of when I’ll get a new set of hulls.”
You’ll carry that weight, Cowboy.
As a seasoned Hobie Cat sailor myself, watching my mate sail on such an incredible boat (in a deadly amount of breeze might I add) with a seamless display of skill, nature and joy on the helm, was truly sensational. The simple, “oh my god”, Bryn expressed, as he hit the beach was enough to illustrate clearly how much fun he had.
Seeing MB, Quinny and Bryn sail with such ease on the ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘ is not only a testament to their natural ability as helmsmen, but the ease and forgiveness that the boat can provide to a skipper. From the simplicity of it’s design, to the staggering boat speed that it can generate, both upwind and downwind, the ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘ is truely an innovation for all catamaran sailors.
Whether you’re part of the Hobie Family, new onto the 14-foot catamaran sailing scene, or a die-hard performance cat-sailor who is looking at jumping back onto the boat that started it all back in the 1960’s on the shores of California. This is the upgrade that will have Hobie Alter swooning with the Wind Gods up above.
So, in conclusion, if you’re interested in upgraded your original Hobie 14 and turning it the glorious Hybrid, get in contact with your local Hobie Cat dealer now! Find the list below:
- Totally Immersed Watersports – NSW
- The Life Aquatic – NSW
- Scott Lovig Hobie – VIC
- Sunstate Hobie – QLD
- Windrush Yachts – WA
- Binks Marine
And finally, ‘Green ‘n’ Gold‘, the NSW State Championship winning ‘Hobie 14 Hybrid‘ that MB is racing in the upcoming Victorian Hobie Cat State Championships, is …
OFFICIALLY FOR SALE!
Get in contact with Totally Immersed Watersports – NSW on (02) 4421 5936 to take her home today.
Be seeing you soon, Cowboy Sailors.
On Thursday night, whilst MB and I were having our final yarn with our mate, Quinny, I told him over the sound of Johnny Horton’s ‘Sink the Bismarck’ that I would finish this story so he could hear it on Friday morning, along with all of you. However, he never got the chance.
The legacy Quinny has left within the Hobie Family, and throughout the wider Jervis Bay community, is one that is truly unique.
As MB stated: “to know Quinny, was to love Quinny. He will be remembered in our hearts as one of the truly great characters in our community. His humour, enthusiasm and unwavering positivity towards life was absolutely infectious”.
Throughout the years, Quinny has sailed many a Hobie Cat. From the ‘Wild Dog‘ to the Hobie 18, along even a few notable stints on the 16, including the Jervis Bay and Florida Worlds.
But Quinny’s final boat, the Hobie 14 Hybrid, ‘Puppy Dog II‘, will remain the first and only of its kind. A pure reflection of the impact, memories and legacy that he has left behind.
And for that, we salute you.