I am not familiar with the RS, though it seems it is 2/3rds the weight of the Hobie. I thought glass was typically lower weight, but maybe not. If so, then let's hope the RS structural engineering makes up the difference.
Hobie might have more parts available, and maybe more sailing tips and resources.
Hobie might have more people sailing in a class. However, if you want to race, these days, a race typically includes any boat with two hulls. (and join a race at your local club. Its a lot of fun)
South Carolina Lake sailing
I can't comment on the RS but I can on the Hobie, I've sailed them many times. The biggest drawback as far as I'm concerned is the low volume hulls. I've never pitch poled one, but I was always aware of that tendency from the first. I've always wondered what Hobie was thinking with this hull design. Compared to my 40 year old G-Cat, the Hobie is harder to rig and sail, especially harder to tack and not quite as fast. But that's just my opinion. On the plus side, there's no shortage of used Hobie 16's out there and no shortage of good advice on buying one and sailing one. And you can always get parts. If money's not an issue, you have to consider a Nacra 500.
I'm a bit biased as I work for RS Sailing, but I also grew up sailing Hobies and race a Nacra F18.
This comparison is really a bit of apples and oranges...
On the weight you're probably looking at the hull weight versus full boat weight. We're in the process of changing that weight on all of our documentation. The full weight is 308 lbs, about the same as (new) Hobie 16 but it's a durable thick rotomolded hull with a lot more volume.
The Hobie 16 is nearly 50 years old and design features are as such. It's an amazing boat for what it is, but it's more difficult to sail, less volume/carrying capacity, but as a fiberglass boat will be a bit lighter and faster. When I say difficult to sail, it will take getting used to how to tack, how to prevent pitchpoling, how to keep your jib from getting caught on your halyard, and etc. In time you'll learn some of this but it's not as easy as a modern cat.
The RS Cat 16 has a forgiving hull shape that is very difficult to pitchpole, if you compare it to the modern SailGP / America's Cup cats the hull shape is pretty similar.
It's packed full of user friendly features like the furling jib means it can stay on all the time/be used to depower, the main can be reefed, rudders are aluminum and kick up works better than the old Hobie system, you can fit more people on it due to larger tramp size, no boom/more headroom, it will tack much easier, the mast is a more efficient lighter section, optional mast float, and the hulls will require less maintenance as they are rotomoulded plastic.
The RS Cat 16 wasn't designed as a racing boat like the Hobie 16 is often used for, so while it can be sporty in breeze it will be a bit more tame and slower in lighter conditions. You will be able to push it harder in more breeze due to the added volume. It's much easier to right with one person than the Hobie 16. Add the spinnaker on the RS Cat 16 and it's super fun to singlehand in light air or blast around in big breeze as the spinnaker lifts the bows.
Happy to answer any questions you may have.
Edited by wildtsail on Dec 20, 2023 - 03:25 AM.
A while ago I was also looking at the differences between Hobie 16, RS 16, Topper 16, Nacra 500. A local dealer told me that the RS 16 also has been built with recesses to right the boat if needed. From experience I can say that the Hobie 16 is very hard to solo right, or almost impossible without a water bag.
I found a Nacra F16 but still would love to demo experience the RS or Topper as these are rotomolded and probably more foregiving on beach with pebbles. I've learned to anchor my fiberglass F16 on the water, get my beach wheels to pull it up.
From experience on the lake, I can say that the Nacra F16 is mind blowing faster than the Hobie 16 and so much more stable. But as others have stated too, you can find a good hobie on the cheap and there are spare parts a galore.
If you are looking for something more performance based, take a look at the new Nacra 500 MK2. We are looking to have the 500 MK2 and the 570 MK2 at Ides of March Regatta on Lake Somerville, TX March 16-17. There are talks with the dealer on holding a raffle to race one of the boats for the regatta (with qualifications verified).
Prindle Fleet 2
Prindle 18-2 Mod "FrankenKitty"
Tornado Classic "Fast Furniture"
Prindle 19 "Mr. Wiggly"
Nacra 5.8 "De ja vu"
Tornadoes (Reg White)
Are you buying new? If so, the RS 16 S is almost $1k cheeper than the Hobie 16. The RS 16 XL is about $1K more expensive, but it comes with the spinnaker package.
The Hobie 16 is a faster boat than the RS 16 if sailed right (the Hobie has much more sail area upwind), but I submit that it's harder to sail the Hobie right. So your experience level comes into play as well.
I bought a boat this time last year. What I found is that even when buying new, you will have to hunt around to find a dealer that still has the boat you want in stock and you should keep your options open (or put in an order and wait until spring.) I was looking for a Topaz 14CX and ended up buying a Topcat K4X and I'm loving it.