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Re: Will learning to sail on a Cat ruin me forever?
IMHO the "cat v mono" debate is a bit of a red herring. Particularly insofar as the OP is a relative beginner & wants to sail on a lake... It's all very well talking about trapeze balance on the sea, but it's a bit pointless if the helmsman can't tack without getting stuck in irons.
There are good points and bad points about each. But at the end of the day, I can't imagine the OP is going to go off and try to decide between buying a Tornado or a 49er—if he gets into racing he can go off and buy a high-performance dinghy or cat when he's got the boat handling skills needed to sail one of those kind of boats. And if he does, the level of boat handling skill required—with all due respect to proponents of each—is pretty similar and pales into comparison with the tactical and strategic skill needed to race one of those things.
I would tend to think more about the prevailing wind conditions where the OP sails. If there's usually a solid breeze (13kt+) and plenty of space then it might be worth seriously considering a Hobie as that's pretty much their ideal environment. In my experience, Hobies are a fun sail in those kind of conditions even for beginners. The Bahia, being narrower and having less form stability, will be more of a handful and you're going to need to consider using the reefing system. Conversely, if you usually have relatively little wind (say 5–10 kts) or would be sailing in a confined space, a cat will probably be a bit of a waste of time.
FWIW, experienced cat and monohull sailors can usually step into/onto the other type of boat and make a fairly decent fist of things. That might not apply to cruisers (I've never seen the theory tested) but for dinghies and similar-sized cats, it generally holds true. There are minor differences, of course, but nothing that a bit of knowledge and practice won't fix.
As for the OP (if he's still bothering)—I stand by my original conclusion: try to go for a sail on each or on similar boats. One will seem more appropriate for your needs than the other.