Sailing Nose Down


Sail Your 16 with an Attitude
Getting the most efficiency out of your hulls
By Tami Shelton 

There are many articles and opinions about add-on parts for the Hobie 16, hopefully to make it faster, but you might be surprised to find that the fastest sailors don’t buy into that. Many times I’ve seen boats that are either old or plain Jane whip right by and have puzzled why... one reason is attitude. Of course psyching yourself counts, but the attitude I refer to is that of your boat. This article will attempt to explain Hobie 16 attitude, but if you want more information, refer to the March/April 1992 issue of Hotline.* 

One of the biggest speed differences I’ve personally seen in sailing my 16 is when David, my beau, hit on sailing his boat nose down and told me to try it. He later was backed up in this concept when we discovered Hotline had published this idea years ago, but although it’s nothing new, we don’t often see people sailing in this fashion. 

The Hobie 16 hull bow area is narrow and more symmetrical than the stern, which is wide and asymmetrical in comparison. If you think about it, it pays to have a nice low-drag foil area cutting water, especially upwind, but really on any point of sail. This is of course even more critical in light-air situations. 

What does this mean? Like the Hotline article said, "Upwind, the Hobie 16 likes to be sailed ‘on its nose’ - leeward hull depressed, windward hull just kissing the surface, STERNS OUT OF THE WATER." Although the article emphasizes this attitude upwind, and this would be where it’s most important, you will see great speed gains on downwind as well. You have to be very careful when sailing bows down; you’ll see your pitchpole frequency rate increase, so practice. Just take the conditions into consideration... you can’t sail as nose-heavy when there’s heavy wind and chop as you can in flat water, but even in big stuff, you shouldn’t let your sterns drag if you can help it. You’ll get a feel for it with experience. 

What’s nose-down? The waterline along the leeward hull should hit about 2-4 in. below the bow, and the bottom point of the stern should just be above water. 

Another thing... stay TOGETHER! Your 16 will ride much better if you and your crew sit, stand, trap and sit, whatever, near one another on the boat. You won’t believe the difference it makes, and life is SO much more comfortable when your boat isn’t hobby-horsing around, not to speak of the speed increases. When I say together, I mean fore/aft together. When you’re in light air and your crew is to leeward to keep your windward hull up, sit across from him. If the wind increases, he can move across the tramp to get more weight on the weather hull and then you just sit snug next to one another. Later if the wind picks up more, he’ll get out on the wire, standing behind you. The whole time keep in mind you want fore/aft attitude to stay as nose-down as conditions allow. 

When moving around, move smoothly. Don’t jerk or jump if you can help it. In light air, tippy-paws, tippy-paws about on your boat; stay low, too. You create drag when you sit up. I’ve sailed on light days laying flat on my belly across the tramp (I have an extendible tiller... prob. can’t lay out like that if you have a stock tiller extension); it’s great for tanning while racing. 

When tacking, make a big U-turn. Don’t throw your tiller hard over; this ain’t a monohull, your cat won’t turn on a dime. Learn to roll tack (see Rick White’s Catamaran Sailing for the 90’s . I can’t describe this very well.). Don’t leave your mainsheet tight as the bows come across; actively throw the main onto the other side... your crew will throw the jib over and sheet it in on the other tack first, which will begin the acceleration process... then you sheet in the main, then your crew makes final adjustment on the jib. A general note for boathandling... remember that air on the jib will push your bows, and air on the main will push your sterns. 

© Ken Christie 2022 - E Mail us for more info.