How to Tack Your Hobie Island

Tacking Hobie Islands, or ‘Coming About’, means changing the direction (or tack) of a sailboat by turning the bow (front) of the boat up through the wind. In order to sail upwind you must tack back and forth across the wind. This article applies to both the Tandem and Adventure Islands.

On a sailboat, turns aren’t as simple as they are in other vehicles. In a car, you can make a left turn or a right turn. On a sailboat, you  tack or gybe to change your course relevant to the wind. Tacking refers to changing direction with the wind infront of you and gybing refers to when the wind is behind you.

tackingThe left Image shows a Hobie Island on a port tack (upper Boat), where the wind is coming over the left (port) hand side of the boat or an Island, on a starboard tack where the wind is coming over the right (Starboard) hand side of the boat.

In order to tack you must turn the boat up into the wind and then through the wind till the new direction is reached and this can be done simply in an Island by  using the Mirage Drive to power you through or with a bit of practise you can do this without peddling.

When you sail the boat into the wind you are no longer generating forward momentum from the sail and the boat will slow down. When the boat is heading into the wind it is easy to get stuck fast (we call this Irons) as the boat does not have enough momentum to continue the turn. Luckily with the Hobie Islands we have a Mirage Drive and a couple of strokes from the mirage drive will see you though.

If you want to increase your skills then I would suggest you learn to tack without peddling. It’s very easy to do and the following steps will show you how to carry out a complete tack without the use of the Mirage Drive.

Firstly you need to consider where you will be sailing to after the tack and the simplest way to do this is to look over your shoulder that is on the windward side of the Island (the side the wind is coming from) shoulder then another couple of degrees further back. Point your arm in this direction and that is where you will be aiming for on the next tack.

Waves slow us down when we tack so look for a bit of flat water. Once you have picked your flat water and you know where you are going to be heading start to turn the boat up into the wind with a slow half amount of turn on the rudder control at the same time sheet the main sail in as hard as possible to create a little more energy from the sail.  What we are doing here is holding on to as much power from the sail for as long as possible and by using a small amount of turn on the rudder the boat is not being excessively slowed.

When the Island comes up close to head to wind and you will know this because the sail will loose all power and start to flap, increase the rudder turn to full but don’t jam it over, every turn must be smooth as fast rudder movements slow the Island down. Continue to keep the rudder on full turn through out the head to wind part of the tack and until the sail starts to fill. Once at this point reduce the rudder turn back to half turn and continue to let the Island sail through the tack.

Once you are through the tack instead of resuming your normal upwind sailing angle, sail the boat slightly lower and ease out the main sheet by 2 inches. What this does is sails the boat lower in the wind and by easing the sail that little bit more you will create more power which allows the Island to accelerate a bit faster. Once boat speed is back sail the Island back to it’s normal upwind sailing angle and sheet the main sheet back in.

If you follow this procedure you will be able to tack without the need of your Mirage Drive.  Don’t worry if you can’t, this is not an easy manoeuvre but will greatly increase your sailing skills if you can learn it. If you fail to achieve this, just use the mirage drive to get you through.

Below is the step by step procedure and the amount of rudder control used. It is important to sail the boat slightly lower with the sail eased after to the tack to get your boat speed back. In Step 2 sheeting the sail in fully when at this point increase the amount of time we carry a full sail through the tack thereby slightly reducing the amount of time we have no power from the sail when it is coming closer to the wind.