Re: Learning on a cat?
I know I'm a little late to this thread, but I learned to sail on a Hobie 16. I found it made me just a good a sailor as the guys who learned to sail in monos. Now that I have small children I switched to a larger mono hull. When they are old enough I will be getting them a Hobie to sail on.
It is true, they sail slightly different than mono dinghies. However, I found them to be great teachers. The high speed causes you to think further ahead of your boat. The lack of inertia and difficulty in tacking a cat teaches you energy management so you can make the tack on the first try. Spinnakers are flown from cats all of the time. Hobie 16's have "bolt" on kit for asymmetrical spins. Since most cats are way overpowered you learn quickly how to handle wind gusts to keep from capsizing.
I will say the Hobie community is one of the most open and inviting groups of people I have had the pleasure to interact with. Sailors in general are great with helping newbies, but the Hobie guys take it to the next level. I have seen on several occasions top of the fleet finishers helping a newbie rig his boat for a race they were competing in. I have not seen that with mono dinghies. I'm not saying it doesn't happen there, but I have not witnessed it.
Of course there is the fun factor. I love sailing my mono hull, but there is nothing like sailing a beach cat. How many dinghies have you seen sail up, onto a beach while flying a hull? There is nothing like launching the boat completely out of the water off a wave or a wake. Yes, including the rudders.
So, if you cannot tell, I would reccommend a cat. It worked for me. I took the lessons learned from the beach cat and was able to apply them to boats of all sizes upto 70' wooden schooners. I don't think I was at a disadvantage compared to those who started on dinghies.
Please PM me if you have any questions or would like recommendations for good beach cat books.