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Hobie Wild Cat

2010 August 1

The first racing catamaran I sailed was a Cougar Cat back in 1963 or '64. This new Wild Cat from Hobie Cat Europe is a very different breed of cat to the old and heavy Cougar Cat. The differences are all technology driven, with new materials making it possible to design far lighter boats today. Sail and rig design have also advanced dramatically since 1964. Design credit for this cat is given to the Hobie Cat Europe Design Team, although on one website there is also design credit given to Martin Fischer of Australia.

The Wild Cat conforms to the ISAF F18 class for racing cats and this is one of the fastest growing catamaran classes today. Hobie has been involved with this class since its inception. The hull form is very distinctive with the wave-piercing bows and high chine, or spray knocker, just aft of the bow. I find the distribution of rocker in the hull very interesting. From the tip of the bow to the deepest part of the hull it is almost a straight line, then it's another almost straight line up to the transom. If the drawing I have is accurate, and I suspect it's not, then there is almost a hint of hollow in the run as it goes aft. It's a very sexy looking hull shape. If I am seeing the photos correctly there is also a chine running aft from amidships. There is a lot of complex shape in these hulls. The wave-piercing bows just look fast. The daggerboards and rudder are carbon fiber reinforced. The specs call the boards "centerboards" but the drawings appear to indicate daggerboards. The rudders are designed with a clever tiller attachment that spreads the loads out over the entire head of the rudder. The daggerboards have a very short chord and are quite deep. Draft with boards and rudders up is 7 inches. The total weight of this cat is listed at 397 pounds. The D/L ratios are not really relevant for this type of craft but, for fun, if I add 360 pounds for crew weight we get a D/L of 57.95. The beam is 8 feet, 6 inches.

The mast is a wing-section type, so the mast becomes an effective part of the sail. There is a carbon sprit that allows the Wild Cat to fly a huge spinnaker of 226 square feet. The chute is launched and retrieved from and to a fabric tube that attaches to the sprit. If we use our "with crew" weight of 757 pounds we get an SA/D of 87.45. It will take two skilled sailors on trapezes to keep this high-powered cat on its feet.

This is an exotic sailing machine. It clearly shows how far Hobie has come since the early days of the asymmetrical hulls and no-boards type cats that drew attention to off-the-beach cat sailing racing Catamaran.

LOA 18'; Beam 8'6"; Draft 7" (boards up), 4'2" (boards down); Weight 397 lbs.; Sail area 454 sq. ft.; SA/D 134.48; D/L 30.39; L/B 2.11.

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

OBE: $22,499
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