A Review of The Hobie Tandem Island by Les Taylor
We test sailed a 2019 Dune/Ivory coloured Tandem Island (TI) from the Shore Thing/Hobie Centre, Rockley Park, Poole in Dorset a fortnight ago. Steve Beard gave up his day off to meet us and demonstrate the boat, and was probably late for his own Hobie 16 race event later that evening as a result of our test sail/drive – thanks Steve.
Demonstrating the Hobie Tandem Island
Why we chose the Hobie Tandem Island?
My wife and I are mature sailors with experience from offshore racing and cruising to monohull dinghy (Wayfarer, Bosun, RS400, Laser 2000) and Hobie 16 racing. Makes us sound like hard core sailors but we think ourselves middle of the road, erring on traditional and conservative. We recently moved to a village on the banks of the river Tamar with a small yacht club, where our kids love to kayak and paddle board with their Spaniel. By all accounts the highlight of the season is when the tide is just right for club members in a variety of boats to venture down the river and around the headland into the Tavy to Bere Ferrers for a gathering at the Olde Plough Inn. We were undecided on what single vessel might be best suited for exploring the river and local coastal sailing until we encountered the Hobie Mirage Tandem Island.
The Hobie Tandem Island on the water…
Why we love the Hobie Tandem Island
We love the versatility this boat offers; it’s very clever and easy to sail, pedal or paddle. It’s a comfortable if perhaps wet ride in a chop or crossing a wake, but it’s light, quick, simple and the ability to helm and trim the sail from either very comfortable seating position is a masterpiece of design.
The small tillers work in a counter intuitive manner for a sailor accustomed to steering with a yacht or dinghy tiller, but makes perfect sense to everyone else and you quickly adapt. There is no weight on the helm whatever point of sail or wind strength.
The un-stayed carbon mast gives a little in the gusts, spilling wind naturally such that the boat feels nicely under control without the need to ease the sheet. Setting the roller reefed sail is simplicity itself, with Harken cam cleats for the furling line and the mainsheet, so there is hardly any effort required to keep things under control.
The centre board is offset to starboard, so arguably is more akin to a leeboard. Situated alongside the forward seat, it appears to be the only control that is not replicated for both helm positions. It has a very simple and light cam mechanism that enables the board to kick up when it comes into contact with the ground, unlike a dagger board. The Tandem Island felt as close winded as any of the pointy dinghies I have sailed, and the centre board itself is easy to adjust without any significant load and almost finger-tip like control.
Tacking is a little slower than a monohull, but so much easier than our experience with a Hobie 16. The Tandem Island tends to maintain its forward momentum much better than a cat through the tack, and I suspect with practice can be balanced by an experienced crew to minimise the drag caused by the outriggers or Amas. Steve showed us a neat trick to pedal drive the boat using the Mirage drive fins to keep it in motion through the tack, so you never get stuck in irons. Racing purists of course would not approve, but it’s a neat way to solve the problem.
With the fully adjustable for length pedals centred side by side the fins align fore and aft, acting like two more sets of high aspect ratio centre boards; once the pedals are offset to full travel the fins deflect upwards to the underside of the hull such that the draft is minimal. A simple bungee hook is installed to keep them in this position.
For storage the amas pivot to fold alongside the hull. The boat can be transported like this, or the amas and the arms removed completely in minutes by releasing a few bungee cords and spring loaded buttons. The mast and sail are fitted or removed with equal simplicity, leaving you with an 18 ½ foot two seat kayak. This is an easy boat to set up and to operate in any of its modes.
Our TI is due for delivery shortly and its arrival is eagerly anticipated…
The test sail TI did not have trampolines or hiking stick (tiller extension) fitted, but we have ordered these for our boat along with a cover and launching trolley. Like any dinghy, it can be easily trailered, and we will buy the road element of the combi trailer/launching trolley in due course. Our TI is due for delivery shortly and its arrival is eagerly anticipated, and it is the first of it’s kind at our small yacht club, maybe even at any of the Tamar yacht clubs, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s not the last. We are already planning adventures to the Isles of Scilly and beyond. Happy paddling, pedalling, kayaking and sailing.
If you need help deciding which of the Hobie Fishing Kayaks is for you then book a demo with us and we are happy to get you out on the water to help you choose b