Forty years after their inception, these small catamarans are as common as gulls
The dock at Sea Star Base Galveston is dotted with a rainbow of colors — reds, yellows, blues, to name but a few.
On a calm afternoon in January, a host of students supervised by several adults and base staff members, prepare a line of six catamarans for an afternoon out on the water.
Even to the most casual sailors these boats are almost immediately recognizable as members of the Hobie line of catamarans, which are among the most popular boats in the world, said Mike Janota, director of community sailing at the base.
Hobie Cats are prized for their speed and maneuverability in races.
They’re a common sight at races across the Texas Gulf Coast, Janota said. Janota himself has raced them in one such event on Bolivar Peninsula.
“These are just fast, colorful boats,” said David Gaston, adaptive sports coordinator at the base.
Most small sail boats might runs at about 5 or 6 knots an hour, where Hobie catamarans can make 9 or 10 knots, Gaston said.
The history of the Hobie Cat line is an interesting one, Janota said.
Company founder Hobert “Hobie” Alter first began design work on the line of catamarans in the 1960s, modeling them after boats he found in Hawaii, while searching for a boat that could easily be beached and relaunched, Janota said.
“Most boats couldn’t handle shallow water,” Janota said.
The Sea Star Base Galveston owns a total of eight Hobie Cat catamarans in a variety of different models, Janota said. Those include four different models, from the 14-foot to the 18-foot catamaran.
The brand of catamaran is excellent for a wide variety of users, Gaston said. Those well-versed in boating like them for their speed, while newcomers also use them because they are relatively easy to sail.
The base will soon begin renting the cats for group sailing events, Janota said.
In the past four decades, more people have taken to the water in a Hobie Cat than almost any other boat, Janota said. It’s not uncommon to see them dotting the horizon at resorts and vacation spots as far away as Mexico and Costa Rica.
The Hobie Cat also is a popular sight at the Texas City Dike and along the Galveston beachfront, Janota said.