For someone relatively new to sailing, how would you evaluate monohull versus multihull sailboat purchase? what are the key differences, unique features, and do you see one growing more than the other and why?
The multihull is something that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Within the yacht club/sailing association it has only been around for the past 50 years or so., with the introduction of the Hobie Cat in the 60’s. It was really still just a beach type sailboat. We all know that they are very fast and stable, but it wasn’t till the Tornado that they were considered a true racing boat. With the lighter weight, reduced drag and faster speeds, the Tornado became the first real high performance multihull. It was even an olympic class for 20 years. I remember sailing the Hobie 14 in a Champions type regatta in 1978 and we all started on port tack so that we only had to tack once on each beat. They took soooo long to tack and you had to do a wheelie to get it through the wind. With the addition of a jib on the Hobie 16 and most other cats, that problem was partially solved although it can still be painful with the long hulls. The real growth is going to be in foiling multihulls because it is very easy to retro-fit existing boats and there aren’t many established classes that participate in the yacht club/sailing association type of environment.
Monohulls i.e. dinghies are really the mainstay of the racing world. They go upwind easier and at better angles. There are boats that are suited for kids all the way up to us old guys and are easily adapted for handicapped sailors. When you sail a mono hull, you get into the boat as opposed to a multihull where you get on it. Getting into a boat is more comforting to most people. Our kids grow up sailing dinghies in sailing school continue on through high school and college. Dinghies and bigger monohulls are much more suited for the Yacht club sailor.
In most clubs the cat has really never taken hold because it is much more suited for the beach. Most clubs don’t have beaches. It’s really with the advent of high performance dinghies i.e. Moths, 49ers and such that launch from dollies that you see beach sailing venues. I think that the sport of cat sailing will grow with this new emphasis. It should be interesting to watch. The Olympic cat has yet to really take off in the US buy it still may happen.No doubt cats are fun to sail in heavy wind but what boat isn’t.