Hobie Cat is one of the most popular sailboat production companies to ever exist, and the Hobie 16 is the most popular boat in the Hobie Cat line-up. The key to Hobie’s success was largely in part to advancements in strong and lightweight materials. This advancement allowed Hobie to achieve record breaking performance in their particular class of boat. The mast of the Hobie 16 is one of the heavier pieces of the craft. The overall mass and center of mass is greatly affected by this component, which begs to question if there may possibly be room for improvement. A sailboat mast is defined as a tall vertical spar, sometimes sectioned, that rises from the keel or deck of a sailing vessel to support the sails and the standing and running rigging. Sailboat masts are long, slender structures. They must be designed to be able to hold the thrust loads that are acting on them from the sails which will differ based on wind conditions. A mast must also be made of a material that will allow it to go through the varying environmental conditions without fatiguing. When designing a sailboat mast a few of the main goals are to have a low center of gravity, be light weight, and also aerodynamically efficient.
During this research a Hobie 16 mast design was taken as a baseline design for testing. The current mast on the market weighs between 50–60 lbs. While this is not extremely heavy, the center of gravity is approximately 13.5 feet from the end of the mast. This high center of gravity makes it tough to raise and lower the mast when launching the boat. One important objective in this work is to create a mast that will be easier for the user to raise and lower without sacrificing the structural integrity of the mast. Three masts have been created in solid modeling software, and their performance characteristics have been tested using finite element analysis software ANSYS. Two of the designs are original works, while one is a copy of the original Hobie Cat design. The original design was analyzed, providing baseline data for which to compare the new designs with. In addition to the new designs, all designs have been constructed from three different materials as Aluminum Alloy 6061, Aluminum Alloy 7075 and Acrylic. This allows for comparison of designs and possible new materials. After an in depth analysis of all masts, the recommendation is made that Hobie 16 users would benefit greatly from the use of a tapered mast made of aluminum alloy 7075.