In 1950, Hobie alter built his first surfboard. He later opened Southern California’s first surf shop and went on to invent the first polyurethane-foam surfboard. By the late 1960s, he was thinking about boats, and his Hobie Cat introduced a whole new generation of sailors to the sport.
Today, Hobie is known for surfboards, sailboats and a whole lot more, including kayaks that grace the lazarettes of many superyachts around the globe. The company’s MirageDrive pedal kayaks are popular because they can be used with or without paddling if guests’ arms tire out. Hobie’s inflatable pedal kayaks make onboard stowage easier, and its Pro Angler fishing kayaks can get yachtsmen off the sport-fishing mothership and into the shallows.
The Mirage Island design is arguably the most multipurpose offering in Hobie’s stable of kayaks; it can be used for paddling, pedaling, fishing or sailing. These kayaks are available for single or tandem users, and they come with a retractable centerboard to make sailing easier. In skinny water, Hobie’s “kick-up” technology means that hitting a rock or the sandy bottom won’t be a problem. The kayak doesn’t get stuck; instead, underwater appendages “kick up” so the kayaker can keep going.
And for those who want to use a Mirage Island kayak to fish, Hobie makes the setup friendly to Lowrance displays. It comes standard with a built-in transducer mount and through-hull cable plugs, so a transducer (sold separately) can be added to find the fish.
Perhaps the best feature of the Mirage Island, though, is that it can be beached and then relaunched. So, when you find a sandy spit with nobody else around, you can take advantage of that opportunity too.
Sea-Doo Spark Trixx: Push the Limits
New for 2021, the Sea-Doo Spark Trixx is designed to let riders whip, dip, spin and dunk their way around the water. Available in lava red and deep black (shown above) or in quetzal and manta green, the Trixx comes in versions for one, two or three riders. A portable BRP Audio system with Bluetooth connectivity is optional for adding a soundtrack to a trick routine, and an extended-range variable trim system lets riders exaggerate how high they can raise the craft’s nose or bury it in the water. The handlebar is adjustable for rider comfort, and Sea-Doo’s closed-loop cooling system is designed to keep debris from entering the engine and ruining an otherwise awesome day out on the water.
Peer Into The Depths
California-based Aqua Lung takes its name from the machine that Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnon invented in 1942. The Aqua Lung was the precursor to what we know today as scuba diving equipment, the single invention that spawned decades’ worth of innovations that let people explore beneath the water’s surface.
Now, Aqua Lung makes all kinds of gear, including an array of masks in various styles, colors and sizes. Fields of view can be square or rounded and single- or double-paned. Masks can be used with or without a snorkel. Lenses can be clear or blue, to block high-energy visible light (sometimes called “blue light”). Straps can be wide or narrow, with single or multiple parts. The idea is to help everyone feel comfortable and have a good view, no matter the shape of their face or the type of snorkeling and diving they want to do.
For yachtsmen looking to change up their underwater game, Aqua Lung also offers a bevy of accessories. The Heat Zip Hood can keep divers warm in cooler waters, while hooded jackets made of nylon and spandex can help boaters retain body heat after coming back to the boat. Gear bags are available to pack everything away, then collapse for stowage aboard yachts where lazarette space is at a premium.
Aqua Lung also makes men’s and women’s wetsuits, rash guards and drysuits in various thicknesses and styles, so there is always a good fit no matter the conditions. Gloves come in basic and extra-grip styles, and boots come in high- or low-ankle designs.
The upshot is that no matter how you like to explore underwater, you can do so comfortably. Which, of course, means staying out longer, the most fun of all.
Catch Some Air
In an increasing number of places worldwide, yachtsmen are once again allowed to visit—as long as they stay on the boat. The goal is to minimize interactions with locals and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, essentially limiting visiting boaters to an onboard quarantine.
That’s no limitation at all for yachts that are stocked with watersports toys galore, including the ever-increasing line of products from Texas-based FunAir. The company’s founder was looking for ways to enhance the fun at his lake house, and he ended up creating all kinds of inflatable toys that can be enjoyed aboard express cruisers, trawlers and superyachts alike.
Some of the company’s most interesting offerings include Yacht Golf, which can be set up as a single green in the water or as a course of sorts, with multiple greens floating at varying distances from the yacht. For yachtsmen who have favorite golf courses on land, FunAir can design the floating greens in the same shapes as famous greens from those courses. And the flag for each floating green can be customized with the yacht’s logo.
Another creative offering from FunAir is Water Joust, an inflatable platform that’s much like a balance beam on the water, allowing competitors to swing inflatable jousting poles at each other until one person goes over the side with a splash. There’s a nonslip surface with steps up to the beam, to help players stay balanced, and the poles have easy-grip handles, so they won’t slip out of wet hands.
Loungers of multiple sizes, with or without shades, are also available, and some can be used as part of a floating island—perfect for creating the ultimate socially distanced space in a beautiful harbor.