You have seen the announcement about Hobie Cat Company licensing out the sailboat side of the business, but many are wondering what does this really mean? Hobie Cat Company has not been sold and will continue to operate building kayaks and pedal boards. Hobie Cat Company has entered into a long-term licensing agreement with Start Line Sailing to take over the sailboat side of the business. Start Line Sailing will now be responsible for manufacturing new sail boats, parts, and accessories. The boats will still be called Hobie Cats, they will still have the same trademark logos and they will still be sold through the Hobie dealer network, it’s just they won’t be built in a Hobie Cat owned facility. This arrangement is common in the automotive industry and the Subaru BRZ is a perfect example. The Subaru BRZ is Subaru vehicle and is only available for purchase through the Subaru dealer network, but it’s actually built by Toyota in a Toyota factory under a licensing agreement.
Who is Startling Line Sailing? They are a company that owns several other companies including West Coast Sailing (one of the largest Hobie dealers in the USA), Zim Sailing, and Dwyer Mast and Rigging. They are a sailboat company; they only build and only sell sailboats. They have facilities in the USA (Oregon, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island), Asia, and France. Their product offerings are primarily one-design sailboats.
The Hobie Cat sailboat product line is now transitioning to Starting Line Sailing and they intend to build exactly the same boats, using the same moulds, the same subcontractors, the same suppliers, and in some cases, the same employees as Hobie Cat Co. used. The goal is that the boats will be as much as humanly possible, exactly the same. This includes trampolines, sails, rudders, aluminium suppliers, comptips, all of it, the same.
The IHCA has been in communication with Startling Line Sailing for some time now. We have been involved in some very productive meetings and we are very optimistic that this change will be very good for the class. Startling Line Sailing recognizes the value of a strong class association and wants to work with us as partners promoting Hobie sailing.
Many details are still under discussion and the current priority for Startling Line Sailing is getting their manufacturing online and fulfilling dealer orders. 2023 will clearly be a transition year as they ramp up manufacturing, but the future is bright.
Embrace this – change can be scary but sometimes it’s for the best.