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Sailing Instruction | Upgrades

Sailing Instruction: Hobie 14 Catamaran Tuning Guide

Added by damonAdmin on Oct 20, 2003 - 10:58 AM

The Hobie 14 catamaran sailboat launched the "Hobie Way of Life" when it leaped onto the world stage with the now famous 1968 Life Magazine "The Cat that Flies" article. This great beachcat is still actively raced today and many new sailors get their first taste of catamaran sailing aboard the Hobie 14 catamaran.

Bob Curry, former World and National Champion on the Hobie 14, has agreed to share his tuning tips for the Hobie 14. His photos and explanations will save the new Hobie 14 catamaran owner lots of time getting rigged, and get the racer around the course a little faster.


The first thing you want to do is step the mast on the trailer. Next, using a carpenters level butted up against the shroud chainplate on the sidebar, level the boat.

Undo your main halyard and attach a 5lbs weight. Measure the distance from the halyard to the bottom of the mast cutout for the mainsail. A good ball park number will range between 45”- 57” depending on your body weight. Lighter skippers will favor the larger number (larger distance) and heavier skippers will favor the smaller numbers (less distance). Since I weigh 160lbs, I opt for a 55” mast rake.

Hobie 14 Mast Rake 


I normally carry a loose rig when not trapezing. This is tested by grabbing the leeward shroud with your hand and turning it to 120 degrees. As the breeze freshens, I tighten the rig to keep the leeward hull from depressing too much. This is very important to remember in choppy water. While trapezing, adjust the shroud tension to 45 degrees using the same method as above. This will keep the rig powered up and not dump you in the water in lulls.

The mast raker line should ONLY be used downwind to help keep the rigging from banging around too much.

Hobie 14 Mast rake cleat 

Hobie 14 Fore-stay Connector 


There are a lot of different thoughts on this area. I will address what has worked for me.

Draft position: 45%
Camber: 16%
Batten Tapers: Bottom 3= non-tapered Top 3= taper and soft

A good way to set up the draft is to raise the sail with some batten tension and downhaul applied to eliminate the wrinkles. Take the tail of the main halyard and run it down the sail starting at the aft end of the headboard to the middle of the boom. The maximum draft should be at this line intersecting the sail. You will probably have to use a belt sander to taper and soften the top 3 battens to achieve the draft/camber point.

I tension the battens starting from the bottom and working to the top. This is done with the sail laying on the trampoline.

  • #6 (Bottom): Almost standing up
  • #5: Barely standing up
  • #4: Standing up
  • #3: Standing up
  • #2: Barely standing up
  • #1: Almost standing up

For choppy water, apply a little more tension for power!

Hobie 14 Sail shape 


There is really only one rule of thumb; wrinkles out in all but very windy conditions. Downhaul in windy conditions to bend the mast and release the leech.


I tension this as hard as I can and cleat and forget it! Since it is not a loose-footed sail, the main does not benefit by releasing it.

Hobie 14 Outhaul 


Upwind: 5”- 6” out from center allows the boat to be footed with a great deal of speed if you have the sail set up as above. When trapezing, only let the traveler out 3”. Reaches will be out to the hiking strap and deep reaches/downwind will be all the way at the end of the track.

Hobie 14 Traveler Position 


This one always causes debate! Start off with the rudders in the locked down position. Measure down the blade 12” from the bottom of the bottom casting. Make a line 2” perpendicular to the 12” point. Using a very thin line and starting at the top of the rudder pin, align the line with the rudder pin and check where the line intersects the perpendicular line on the rudder. Optimally, you should have 1 5/8” to 1 3/4” for a measurement. To achieve the 1 ¾” number, you might have to re-drill the front hole on the rudder or file away at the front of the rudder where it hits the casting.

Rudder toe in should be 1/8” with the rudders in the locked down position again measured from the 12” down point.

Good Luck!!

Bob Curry
1984 World Champion
1980, 1985, 1986, 1987 US National Champion
1983, 1987 US TURBO National Champion

Detail pictures for this article are located in the "Beachcats Technical" photo album. View the entire series of Hobie 14 Tuning Guide pictures here.


Footnote: Excellent detail photos Bob! Attention all cat sailors... If you would like to help your class, please follow Bob's lead and share your rigging tips.

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