How to Gybe a Hobie Island

How to Gybe a Hobie Island is the opposite of tacking Hobie Islands, instead of changing direction into the wind, you are changing direction with the wind behind you. There is a major point you must consider and that is the sail and the main are going to be eased out so you will have a lot of rope flying around. Make sure the main sheet clears your head and doesn’t get hooked up on you or anything. This is why I advocate for the limited amount of hackable items on an Island. It’s so no ropes can get caught up in manoeuvres like this. You can always grab the main sheet and guide it over your head and on to the new side of the boat.

Unlike tacking an Island, when you loose power as you go head to wind, with gybing you are powered all the time so you do not need to peddle through.

When we sail downwind we never sail dead downwind, that is the wind is coming from directly behind us. Instead we sail with the wind slightly off to one side and if we need to make a course change to get to our destination then a gybe is necessary. The below diagram shows boats sailing downwind on opposite gybes.


To change direction simply turn the Island slowly in  the direction you wish to gybe too and allow the sail to swap sides. You can let the sail do this itself or you can grab the main sheet and pull it over, but don’t do this till you are dead downwind as you will find it difficult to pull over when the sail is powered up.

IMPORTANT – Always be aware that when the sail swaps sides the main sheet is going to be coming over as well, ensure you are out of it’s way and the ropes do not get caught on your head or any part of the boat. This mainly applies to the Tandem Islands and the person in the rear seat. 

The below diagram shows the transition from one gybe to the other.


Strong Winds

In strong wind the sail will come across fast. To reduce this, furl the sail in a turn or 2 depending on the wind strength and then complete your gybe. If you do this you are going to have a great deal of main sheet out so grab the main sheet before you gybe and get it over your head. Once your one the completed gybe, set the amount of sail you want out again and resume your course.

You can always carry more sail downwind than you can sailing upwind as you are being pushed more rather than using the aerodynamic effect of the sail to generate power as you do when sailing up wind.