Southern California Loses Surfing Icon and Innovator - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing & Meteorologist Rick Dickert

Southern California Loses Surfing Icon and Innovator

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RIP Hobie! Thank you for all the joy in the water that you gave me-Rick Dickert RIP Hobie! Thank you for all the joy in the water that you gave me-Rick Dickert

Hobie Alter was called a lot of things over the decades. Some referred to him as the Henry Ford of surfing. Author Paul Holmes' biography about this amazing man was titled "Hobie: Master of Water, Wind and Waves." That book was just released last year. Not being a surfer, I prefer to think of Hobie as a visionary. Because of him, millions of people who may never have known the joys of surfing, now enjoy the thrills and spills of the sport, including our own meteorologist and avid surfer Rick Dickert.

Hobie started shaping surfboards in his parents' Laguna Beach summer home in the early 50s. He teamed up with Gordon "Grubby" Clark to develop polyurethane foam as a substitute for the core of a surfboard in the late 50s. Their lighter, and perhaps even more importantly, less expensive creation, revolutionized the sport, making it accessible to so many more people who would dare to ride the waves. Hobie apparently got the idea of using foam from the aerospace industry and that same technology is used in most surfboards built to this day.

But here's the part of Hobie's story that touches me the most. In 1954, he opened a custom surfboard factory and showroom in Dana Point and was the first to develop a removable fin, making shipping and transport easier. At the time, very few people shared Hobie's vision and actively discouraged him over and over again from opening his business, which they insisted would go under (no pun intended) in short order. But Hobie was as vehement about his mission as his critics were vociferous in their efforts to get him to close up shop and do something that might actually work.

Hobie's unshakable belief in what he was doing resulted in monumental success. And, as it turned out, his alternative surfboards were just the beginning of what he would accomplish. In the late 60s, Hobie started designing smaller boats that were affordable to the masses at $999. No longer did someone need to be a member of a yacht club or own a slip to enjoy the ocean in a special way. His Hobie Cat became known as the people's boat and, according to his website, is still the world's best-selling catamaran. He also developed a radio-controlled glider that had a 10-foot wingspan. And now, just about anything with a Hobie label on it is almost guaranteed to sell. Indeed, one website called him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in surfing history.

And to think it all began with a dream. A simple dream. Again, not being a surfer, that is what I admire most about Hobie. He followed his dream despite the constant discouragement of numerous naysayers. That is my big takeaway from the life of Hobie Alter. And, as if all of his accomplishments weren't enough, by all accounts, he was an extraordinarily wonderful human being to boot.

So thank you Hobie for being an inspiration to me, our meteorologist Rick Dickert and millions of others. We would all do well to learn the important lessons of believing in oneself and stubborn stick-to-itness your incredible legacy provides.

From Rick Dickert: What can I say about Hobie that adequately illustrates what he means to me and all surfers? He was the quintessential waterman who was always thinking outside the box to provide tools to allow people to enjoy the playground we call the ocean. He is responsible for the modern foam and fiberglass surfboard, the single most important innovation of our sport. The surfboard I ride today is the result of Hobie's ingenuity. I love my office up in SkyFox, but Hobie's work place was just as nice-THE OCEAN! As a member of both the sailing and surfing halls of fame, Hobie Alter will go down as one of the most influential waterman in history. He set a word record for riding the wave of a boat wake 26 miles from Long Beach to Catalina - today I am sure he is riding another perfect wave somewhere on HIS board....RIP Hobie-

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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