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New boat: Hobie Tandem Island

2010 June 1

Four years ago Hobie tweaked its line of popular kayaks by introducing the Hobie Mirage Adventure Island, which added a sail rig and amas to a 16-foot kayak hull to create a "sail/yak." The experiment must have been deemed a success, as the company has just launched a tandem version of the versatile one-man trimaran.

The Hobie Mirage Tandem Island is a jack of all watercraft trades, combining a sailboat, kayak, trimaran and fishing boat with built-in rod holders. Like all Hobie kayaks, the Tandem Island uses the company's MirageDrive pedal-powered system, which will speedily and efficiently push the boat along when the wind quits or the sail is furled. The boomless 90-square-foot mainsail, meanwhile, sports a modern square-top design to catch wind aloft in light conditions while also spilling excess wind as it becomes overpowered. Whatever the conditions, the Tandem Island should cover a lot of water without a lot of work.

The twin amas, which create a stable sailing platform, can also be quickly and easily folded in from within the boat. This clever feature will certainly come in handy, as with the amas folded, it's no problem to maneuver up to a dock or alongside another boat. Surfers can even strap their boards to the crossbars and sail to their favorite secret spot. A retractable kick-up centerboard will enhance upwind performance.

Steering is done by hand with a Spectra line-controlled rudder. The oversized "Twist and Stow" rudder can be pulled up and laid flat on the deck for beaching or transporting. Dual rudder and mainsheet controls allow sailing from either the front or back cockpit. The dual controls certainly add versatility, but could give a whole new meaning to backseat driver-be sure to work out any skipper-crew issues before getting in the boat.

The 18-foot, 6-inch Tandem Island also features three twist-and-seal hatches that are easily accessed from the cockpits, with additional storage in a large-capacity hatch in the bow. Total capacity is 600 pounds. The fun and simple trimaran comes in red or yellow with color-coordinated sails.

Hobie Mirage Tandem Island

LOA 18'6", Ama Length 13'4", Beam 10' (amas out), 4' (amas folded), Hull beam 2'6", Weight 190 lbs., Sail area 90 sq. ft.

Base boat price: $4,699

Hobie Cat
4925 Oceanside Blvd.,
Oceanside, CA 92056
(800) HOBIE-49