MultiHulls World, the essentials for catamarans and trimarans
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The editor's focus

Au revoir, Hobie…

22/05/2014

Au revoir, Hobie…

Hobart Alter passed away at the end of March. Multihulls World readers owe much to this Californian surfer whose friends knew him as Hobie…

Hobie was 15 years old when he discovered surfing at the end of the 1940s. This was an awakening, and he spent the rest of his life developing boards. In 1954 he opened a surf shop at Dana Point which quickly became successful among local surfers with their balsa boards. But soon this young man was looking to the future, notably to foam-cored boards. In the mid-1950s, this material was still not yet well-developed. Hobie asked his buddy Gordon Clark to investigate. Gordon set to work, and established the company Clark Foam, which became the most famous producer of foam cores, and which would revolutionize the world of surfing for a long time to come.

In 1962 Hobie had stroke of genius: he developed polyurethane skateboards, allowing thousands of young people the world over to discover the pleasure of this street sport.

But the name Hobie will forever remain associated with beach catamarans. In 1968, while the yachting world was rooted in tradition with no idea as to where the burgeoning youth market would head, Hobart Alter launched a catamaran which was simple, fast and above all ultra-fun. With its banana-shaped hulls and flashy sails, the Hobie 14 was more than just a boat, it was a lifestyle. Gone were the heavy monohulls or the few beach cats limited to racing round the cans. With the Hobie 14 you could play in the waves and land on Californian beaches. The ideal machine for partying on the beach with your friends! Two years later, Hobie improved on the little 14 and launched the Hobie 16, to immediate success! There is nowhere on Earth you won’t find a Hobie 16, of which more than 100,000 have been built.

Such was the success that the name “Hobie” has become the generic term defining sport catamarans.
Always curious and creative, the inventor also developed for himself a 60 foot motor catamaran, the “Katie Sue”, named after his mother, Katie and his wife, Susan, which he built entirely himself.

“Hobie” passed away at his home in Palm Desert at the age of 80, surrounded by his family. His incredible creations continue to allow generations to enjoy endless runs, hanging on the trapeze at twenty knots, just for the fun of sailing.

Au revoir, Hobie, and thanks for everything you brought to our lives…
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