Hobie 16 Racing Notes


Bob Merrick

Be sure to see the link at the bottom of this article.


First the disclaimer: We’re not the best Hobie 16 sailors in the country but we have won a few events and we were 4th at the 2003 Continentals. The following isn’t the gospel truth just the best we’ve been able to figure out so far.


Crew Weight:  

The minimum allowable class weight, for adult racing, is 285 lbs combined helm and crew. Most teams try to be right at minimum weight. I think 300 lbs is more ideal over a wide variety of conditions. Liza and I are at minimum but we have trouble when the wind kicks up over 20 knots.


At The Beach: 

Tuning a Hobie 16 is primarily a balance between mast rake and leech tension. Because the boat doesn’t have centerboards the idea is to rake the mast back as far as possible to get the sail plan over the rudders. This causes weather helm and effectively makes the rudders work twice as hard to compensate for the missing centerboards. The limiting factor is the leech tension in the main and jib. If you rake back too far the main blocks, and jib blocks, will touch before the sail is pulled tight enough.


 The new jibs are cut higher at the clew, making jib set up easier. Put the tack of the jib in the middle of the adjuster plate. This will keep the jib high enough and help to make sure the blocks don’t touch.  The rake is ideally set so that there is enough mainsheet tension when the blocks are touching.


The class standard for measuring rake is to take the main halyard to one of the bows and place it at the top of the screw that attaches the bridle. With the halyard pulled taught from the top of the mast, mark the spot on the halyard that touches the screw. Then walk the halyard back to the transom of the same hull and mark the spot that measures to the bottom corner of the transom - this should be shorter than the previous measurement. The distance between the two marks is the measured rake. A good starting rake is 16 inches. This is as far up as we go. Make a mark on the halyard and a corresponding mark on the mast for reference.


We put our shrouds in the bottom hole. This allows us to pull the mast all the way forward with the rig fairly tight. A looser rig will let the mast fall to the side, opening up the jib slot. For this reason we don’t mind letting it go loose as we rake back when it’s windy. If your mast doesn’t want to rotate you may be too tight on the shrouds.


The rudders on a Hobie 16 should be toed in 1/8 of an inch. To set up the rudders, support the transom so that the rudders can be lowered. With a pencil and a ruler draw a line from the pivot bolt to the lowest point on the rudder. With a T-square draw a line across the rudder and perpendicular to the centerline. We do this at the widest spot on the rudder. Do the same for both rudders. Measure the distance separating the two leading edges where they meet the horizontal line. Do the same for the trailing edge. The distance between the two leading edges should be 1/8 inch closer together. Spending some time to get this measurement right will make a noticeable boat speed difference.


If you’re sailing in a round robin style regatta there is a quick and dirty way to take the measurement on the beach. With the rudders up you should be able to sight down both trailing edges and line them up with the screw on the corresponding bow.


On The Water Up Wind:


Hobie 16 Speed Matrix




Main Sheet


Jib Sheet

Jib Traveler


No Trapeezing


1 ft from 2 blocked


Open slot


Wrinkles out

Single Trap.



Almost 2 blocked




Wrinkles out

Just Double Traping.


2 blocked




A bit more



2 blocked

Down 6’’


Out 2’’

More on


Back 2’’ at the mast mark

2 blocked

Down 6’’


Our 3-4’’



Back 2’’ more

2 blocked

Down 12’’


Out 6’’

To the black band

Survival Mode

Back 2’’ more

2 blocked

At the leeward hiking strap


Half way out

To the black band




In light air you can add additional rake and get the main 2 blocked but if the wind picks up before you can get to the halyard you will be extremely slow. The gamble is usually not worth the benefit.


In wavy conditions the jib slot should be more open than indicated.


Initial de-powering is done with the traveler instead of the rake. This is done because you have the ability to pull the traveler back up if the wind drops off. As in light air getting caught with too much rake is very slow. You will know you are too raked because you will be pointing ten degrees lower than everyone else.


Moving the jib lead out is important as it gets windy but even though it’s hard to adjust while going up wind you will not be too slow if you get stuck with it too far out.


Lift the windward rudder while double trapping up wind. This makes tacking complicated and I haven’t found it to be faster for us yet but all the best international guys do it.


Weather helm is good on a 16. The main is sheeted tighter than on most other boats for this reason. You will have to get a feel for how much tighter.


We try not to ease the main sheet when it gets windy as it makes the main fuller and moves the center of effort forward. Liza holds the traveler so it’s at my waist. When I see a puff coming I can quickly grab it and let it down a few inches.


Down Wind:


Make sure you have a wind indicator on the bridle. The rule of thumb is: keep the apparent wind at 900. This is the fast way to sail most of the time, especially in flat water. As it gets windier and waves start to build sometimes you can build some more apparent wind and keep the indicator forward of 90. If heading up gets you over the wave it’s usually worth it to do so.


Don’t bother to adjust the outhaul. Ease the downhaul if you really want to. Lift the windward rudder. Don’t worry if the mast will not stay rotated. You can hold it in the rotated position but, believe it or not, it isn’t going to make you go any faster.


Concentrate on steering and jib trim. Keeping the boat at the best VMG angle and sailing with good jib trim is the key to going fast. In light air the crew should hold the jib out, effectively moving the jib lead off the boat. Crews should remember to control the twist when they are holding the jib out. If the jib is too twisty pull directly down on the sheet.  Keep the jib round by pushing the clew towards the tack.


Think about the wind strength well before you round the leeward mark. Down wind is the only time you can adjust your mast rake.




This may be the hardest part of racing a Hobie 16, especially for a dinghy convert like myself. Do the roll tack thing. Get Rick’s video it helped me a lot.


In light air the jib gets stuck on the main halyard. This will destroy your tack. Crews need to practice helping the jib around in the light stuff.

In heavy air make sure the crew stays forward in the tack. It’s easy to pop a wheelie in the 16 and you can flip it over backwards if it’s windy enough.


The Hobie 16 is a simple boat. With some practice it should be easy to get in the ballpark on the speed game. After that it’s time to go racing, tack on the headers, get in the puffs and don’t flip over.


Bob also suggests the following:

This is the link to the Gavin Colby Hobie 16 tuning guide.  This has got to be THE definitive word on how to get your  Hobie 16 up to speed.  Enjoy!  tuning-16.pdf