R.I.P. Hobie Alter

Back in 1950, Hobie Alter was asked what he wanted to do with his life. Like most teenagers, he didn’t know the answer, but he was adamant about one thing: Whatever the job, he had to be able to do it on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway. Granted, those options were extremely limited, but Hobart “Hobie” Alter was a creative thinker. He knew that if he wanted to continue living his idyllic beach lifestyle, he’d have to create the opportunity himself. And that’s exactly what he spent the better part of his life doing, right up until he passed away peacefully Saturday at his retreat in Palm Desert, California, surrounded by family, at the age of 80.


Deceduto lo scorso sabato 29 marzo e considerato l’Henry Ford delle tavole da surf, Hobie Alter ha cominciato a utilizzare la schiuma di poliuretano nella costruzione delle tavole quando ancora venivano realizzate in balsa, contribuendo così alla produzione su larga scala di tavole e alla diffusione del surf alle masse. E’ stato uno dei più grandi innovatori, non solo nel surf ma anche nel mondo della vela, dove il suo catamarano “Hobie Cat” in fibra di vetro e più leggero di quelli tradizionali entrando in produzione massiccia ha trasmesso l’amore per la vela a tante persone che altrimenti per via dei costi vi avrebbero rinunciato.


By 1960, still in his 20s, Alter had become a champion surfer and the first magnate of the fledgling surf-lifestyle industry that generates more than $10 billion globally today. AccordingThe Encyclopedia of Surfing, “including Gidget, Dora, Frankie and Annette, even the Duke, Hobie Alter has been responsible for the growth and development of surfing.” When he was a young man, Hobie Alter had a clear vision of his future: He didn’t want a job that would require hard-soled shoes, and he didn’t want to work east of Pacific Coast Highway. The son of a second-generation orange grower, Alter is credited with innovations that allowed people who couldn’t lift log slabs to surf and those who couldn’t pay for yacht club memberships to sail.

Share your memories: Hobie’s contributions to SoCal culture

Known practically everywhere with a coastline or a lake simply as “Hobie,” Alter developed the mass-produced foam surfboard. He later popularized sailing by inventing a lightweight, high-performance catamaran.

He died Saturday at his home in Palm Desert, according to an announcement posted onhttp://www.hobie.com, his company’s website. He was 80. The cause of death was not disclosed.