Hobiecat Company changes-Is anyone/everyone paying attention?

martin 'hoff

Super Anarchist
2,215
1,077
Miami
There's decent coverage in the hobie website, and we touched upon it in a thread here. I think the summary is that Hobie has long ago shifted to clothing and smaller water toys (hobie island...).

A short list of cats is still in production (h16, wave, getaway) and the recent change is that those are now produced and marketed "under license". Chances are the licensor was already manufacturing them, with hobie controlling the distribution. At low volume, not worth for hobie to front.

Getaways and waves are popular for hotels and rentals. H16 remains popular and the World's event every year runs exclusively on chartered boats, guaranteeing a certain amount of boats built every year, sold at some discount after the event...

It's a reminder of what was lost, long ago, a much longer list of cats hobie built. But the recent changes seem minor to me.
 

FlyingCircus2

Member
86
63
I knew, but what's to say - hobie stopped making fun boats a long time ago (with the exception of the hobie 16). I own a Hobie Magic 25 and it's still fast and fun. Same with the hobie 33's.

I get that there's more money making plastic lawn ornaments for lake houses, but if hobie want me to even think about them, they've got to start making cool boats again.
 

eric1207

Anarchist
851
290
Seattle
Love my Hobie inflatable pedal kayaks. Easy on and off the boat and my arthritic hands don't have to paddle. I hope they keep supporting them. Too bad about the other stuff.
 

TBW

Member
476
270
People want kayaks more than they want sailboats. Hobie delivers. Their pedal drive kayaks are pretty sweet.

I would own a TI, but can't get my head around the price. Around here they sell for ~$8000 used.

My only Hobie is a Bravo. Great boat for the kids. They can't hurt it and my 8 year old can single hand it.
 

boardhead

Anarchist
We have two Hobie, two man, kayaks sans the pedal padle set up, for fifteen years plus. They live in the sun, year round, we do take the excellent seats out. Ready to go anytime we fancy they work great, one or two up. Stable, fast enough and bulletproof - everything that made Hobie a winning source for so many of their products.
Spent some fun times making one serviceable Wave from three beat up ones at a beachfront hotel in the DR then timing our launch through big surf - the cause of the fleets demise.
This old guys insistence to the staff youth that we could effect a fixer upper from the debris was fun for all but maybe our generations reluctance to motivate our kids is part of the blame for the lack of exciting hands on products from the likes of Hobie today.
 

SolGato

New member
35
25
My recent conversation with a dealer when I inquired about buying a fleet of Waves brought to light the recent change in ownership and the supply chain struggles the company had during Covid that they are only just starting to bounce back from.

During that time I was told they stopped manufacturing beach cats and that the new owners had no date as to when production would resume and didn’t seem very motivated or interested as it is not nearly as profitable a product as kayaks.

I also read somewhere in another thread that there might be issues with the molds/tooling which I assume would require a significant reinvestment cost based on my experience.

In the meantime, other rotomolded options have hit the market with more modern looks and features that seem to be selling.

Hobie would be wise to introduce a solar electric product based on a beach cat platform as that seems to be the direction the eco rental market is heading with it being a more accessible experience like their pedal kayaks.

If they did that, they could squeeze more profit out of the manufacturing of the beach cat hulls so they could continue to offer a a low margin sailing version.

Take a look at what RS is doing with their hull platform with regard to offering different configurations for motor power.
 
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smackdaddy

Super Anarchist
6,243
620
SmackDab, Middle
The marketplace has changed. Boomers are old. Generations after them have more outlets where sailing is not even on the list of "wannahaveit". We are all dinosaurs here at Multihull Anarchy. Soon to be extinct.

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The question for Hobie Cat North America is: would anyone buy any of these other boats in the USA if they offered them here? And the answer is "probably not", in my humble opinion.

Anyone who is looking for a cheap beach cat to use recreationally has the choice of a lot of used fiberglass boats that are still readily available and much less expensive than a new boat of similar type.

The two roto-molded boats the USA sells are the two that ended up being the most successful, and several others were offered.

The Hobie 16 is the ultimate survivor of the classic fiberglass boats.

Back when Hobie was releasing a lot of boats they were designed as faster and higher performance boats, but overtime they fell behind Nacra and Prindle and the European cat makers in the performance category.

What was the last time Hobie USA even tried to design a better performance beachcat?

The Hobie 17 came out in 1985, and the Hobie 21 came out in 1987. All boats after that were either tweaks of existing boats (like the Hobie 21 SC or Hobie 17 Sport) or Hobie Europe imports.
So, essentially they threw in the towel on high-performance racing (the American part of the company) way back in the late 1980s.

By the early 1990s when they released the pondorous Hobie 21 Sport Cruiser with the built in beer-cooler and outboard mount, in 1992, Hobie North America was already focused on a more pure recreational market.

Once they had that focus the rotomolded technology made a lot of sense. The Getaway is a better double-tramp family fun boat than the Hobie 21 was.

Hobie Europe did a good job of carrying the performance torch for the Hobie brand for the next 20 or so years, but eventually they suffered the same fate as Hobie USA.

Even in Europe their offerings are all either legacy (Hobie 16) or recreational. They don't have one boat that has daggerboards! (Much less foiling cats, which Nacra has several of.)

Choosing not to compete in the performance wars, they eventually became irrelevant to racers. Look at how they faired in Formula 18. The original Hobie boat was the Tiger, and it was very competitive and popular. It was replaced by the Wildcat (which I think was a licensed design from a smaller European builder) in 2009, by then the Tiger was not very competitive.

The Wildcat never showed itself to be a clearly superior boat, even though it was modern and innovative.

If you look at Nacra's offerings for F-18, they had the Inter-18 originally, followed by the Nacra F-18, followed by the Nacra Infusion (which went through Mk.I, Mk.II and Mk.III configurations, and now the current boat the Nacra Evolution. The last 4 all designed by Morelli & Melvin, one of the best naval architecture firms specializing in multi-hulls (designed a bunch of America's Cup boats). They also have a F-16 boat, another active market Hobie Europe never competed in.

Hobie never stepped up to even try to compete at that level, the Wildcat was a last ditch effort to stay in the racing market, and it failed. (It is no longer even offered by Hobie Europe)

Why beachcat sailing is still fairly popular in Europe and not in the USA is a really interesting question.
 
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WestCoast

Super Anarchist
All-

We've partnered with Hobie to manufacture, distribute and sell all Hobie Sailboats, Parts and Accessories, worldwide.

https://startinglinesailing.com/news

It's a busy time for us as we focus on getting the supply chain back up and running.
Our goal is to start shipping out the first complete boats, in Q1.
Volume production up and running by Q2.


- We'll bring some European models to the US - yes (first one arrives next week)
- We'll be producing all the sails, tramps, with the existing people, on the existing equipment
- We'll be producing all the masts, crossbars and metalwork, on the same machines
- All current products will remain in production: 14,15,16, Dragoon, Wave, Getaway, Catsy, T1, Ludic (only question is Max, we think so, but have't decided 100% yet)
- All the Parts and Accessories, will be produced, in quantity.
- Almost all existing Hobie Sailboat dealers, will remain. (We'll add a few more over time.)



We've hired ex/Hobie employees, probably 15 in total?
We've rented some space in Oceanside.
We've rented the old HCE building in France.
We're moving out all of the tooling and remaining inventory to our facilities in the US.


We've been swamped with orders, worldwide.
Our forecast is for low four figures of new Hobie Cat Sailboats produced in 2023.
Demand is incredible.

--
We're going to be working closely with the class, and supporting more events, marketing and promotion in the years ahead.

2023 is about stabilizing the boat and part supply chain.
Getting all the products back on dealers shelves - in significant quantity.

2024 and beyond - we'll introduce new boat models, new products, new partnerships.

We're a sailboat company, entrusted with an iconic brand, to not just serve, but also grow Hobie Sailboats - worlwide.


Summary:

Hobie Sailboats are very much alive and well.
- We're investing millions of dollars into getting production and parts back online.
- Full boat production will occur in 2023
- Full parts production is occurring - now.
- Full support for legacy models overtime.


We are throwing the entire weight of our 70+ people, in 6 locations, behind this.
 


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