With every class I have sailed, the boat's sail numbers are an indication of the age of the boat and also of the number of boats in the class.
So, if I am buying a secondhand boat, I can tell the age by just seeing the sail number. If I am thinking of joining a class, I can see the development of the class and total number of boats by just checking the latest sail number.
I know that some classes started their sail numbers at numbers other than 1. For instance in the UK, the Dart 16 class started at 1600. And numbers like 13 are sometimes left out.
This may have happened with other classes also.
But, I do not know of any make of boat other than Hobie, where, once a sail number has been allocated, it does not stay with the boat for life.
It would seem that with Hobie it is impossible to actually tell by the sail numbers, the year of a boat, or the exact numbers of that class sold.
I recently noticed a Hobie Tiger that I knew had a sail number in the 700s was now sporting a sail no. in the 1300s
I asked, and I was told that he had bought new sails.
Then I remembered the two quotes I have included below.
In reply to flounder
250,000? Where did you get that figure? I would say itís less than half of that. Remembering that Hobiecat often print sail numbers without actually building a corresponding boat. They do that for Worlds, Europeans, some National events and people ordering new sails. So the numbers are more than they should be anyway. They also skip blocks of numbers, so they assign 90000-95000 to South Africa for example, but only 1000 of them are used.
I would agree they have sold over 100,000 boats but not 250,000
Below is a quote from the UK Hobie forum.
Hi Graham, i am a youth sailor in the Hobie 16 class. When i entered the class i bought an absolute dog of a boat as i did not know what i was looking for. The main problems to look for are leeky hulls/damaged hulls, state of the sails, whether the boat has internal or external travellers (internal are better), and the stifness of the hulls. As for sail numbers. This can be desceptive as when new sails are purchased, new sail numbers are given!
My experience is in Ireland and the UK, and probably also Europe, with classes like Laser, GP14, Dart, Hurricane 5.9, Spitfire etc.
Until the Tigers arrived in Ireland a few years ago we did not have many Hobies here and nobody ever considered that a sail number would not reflect the age of a boat. In my experience, once a boat is in good condition, its secondhand sale price is determined by the year it was built, and the sail number is accepted as proof of that. I have never been asked (or asked) for an original invoice.
Does this happen with other classes in the US ?
Is it a form of marketing where a company artificially boosts the perceived number of boats sold?