Those who leave too soon...
Of all the legends we've recently lost, this one hit closest to home, especially since our own Dick Metz was such a close friend and associate of Hobie's. We all are truly saddened by the passing of this gentle man, and modern creator of so many sports innovations.
Hobart “Hobie” Alter, who started out shaping surfboards, and ended up shaping a culture, passed away peacefully at his Palm Desert home on March 29 surrounded by his loving family. Born on October 31, 1933 in Ontario, California, he was 80 at the time of his passing.
The recently published biography “Hobie: Master of Water, Wind and Waves” reveals the story of this true Renaissance man. The son of a second-generation orange farmer, Hobie flourished spending time at his family’s Laguna Beach summer home. And it was here in the family’s garage back in 1950 where he began his somewhat accidental career by combining his two loves, wood shop and water, crafting handmade 9 foot balsawood surfboards for his friends. Business was good, and his father had grown tired of the sawdust, so in 1954 Hobie would open the area’s first surf shop in Dana Point. But as demand continued to grow, balsawood was becoming scarce, and even with Hobie’s creative assembly line, the wooden board building process was cumbersome. This is where Hobie’s extraordinary gift for self-taught, “outside the box” engineering rose to the challenge. Through a top-secret trial and error process, and along with friend and employee Gordon “Grubby” Clark, Hobie pioneered the development of the foam surfboard. With the lighter and more responsive boards, and his gift for design and commitment to uncompromising quality, Hobie quickly became the number one surfboard brand in the world. The list of legendary surfers and shapers that worked or rode for Hobie is a virtual Hall of Fame and his success is widely considered the launching point for California’s iconic surf industry. Hobie himself was a top surfing competitor.
In the late 1960’s having achieved great success with surfing, Hobie turned his attention to another of his water-based passions. And after much on-the-water R&D, he unveiled his namesake “Hobie Cat” catamaran. This fun, lightweight and affordable craft is credited with bringing high-performance sailing from the yacht club to the masses. “The Cat that Can Fly” could be launched off any beach and soon became one of the world’s top selling sailboats. But his curious mind and constant tinkering didn’t stop there. A few of his other inventions include creating the “Hobie Hawk” a high-performance remote controlled glider (another of his lifetime passions). He also designed the hugely successful Hobie Super Surfer skateboard, sculpted a revolutionary 33-foot mono-hull sailboat, pioneered a “Float Cat” for fly-fishing and built the “Katie Sue” (named for his mother Katie and his wife Susan), an awe-inspiring 60-foot power catamaran from scratch.
As the result of this serial innovation, the name Hobie has come to mean a great deal to the world. But it is the integrity of the person behind the name that has meant so much more to family and friends. A humble man of incomparable character, he made it clear that the one thing of which he was most proud, was his family. His sister recently recalled that their father taught Hobie early on to always tell the truth, no matter the consequence, and that any deal worth doing could be done with a handshake. It was a lesson that Hobie incorporated into every aspect of his personal and professional life, and one that he passed on to his own children as well as those that interacted with him in his various enterprises. He was incredibly giving of his love, his time, his resources and his expertise. Always the first to do whatever was necessary to help those in need. Yet he never wanted any accolades or recognition. His kindness, sage counsel and generosity literally transformed countless lives. But as he was quick to say, “A lot of people helped me along the way, I’m just trying to return the favor”.
In discussing the future with friends as a young man Hobie declared that he wanted to make a living without having to wear hard-soled shoes or work east of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. By “Making people a toy and giving them a game to play with it” he was able to realize this dream. And in the process, he introduced an active outdoor lifestyle and collection of products that made the world just a bit more fun. Hobie’s passing will leave an incredible void in the world of surfing, sailing and watersports. But as with any great author, actor or artist, the legacy of his work, and the strong wake of his innovations will live on forever. And for his family and friends, the lessons he taught, the quiet, moral and ethical example he set and the lingering warmth of his abiding love will comfort them as long as they live.
With his loving wife Susan at his side, Hobie lived life as an adventure spending years on the lakes and ski slopes of McCall, Idaho, navigating the Katie Sue through the channels near their home in Orcas Island, Washington and hitting the links at Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert, California. In addition to Susan, he is survived by his sisters Carolyn and Lillian, his daughter Paula and her partner Ian, son Hobie Jr. and his wife Stephanie, son Jeff and his wife Laurie, grandchildren Cortnie and her husband Dylan, Brittany, Scotty, Cody, Ashlyn, Tyler, Noelle and Justin, great-granddaughter Serena, and many close friends that were always made to feel like they were immediate family.
Dick “Mo” Meine, a Manhattan Beach home builder, was an original member of the Palos Verdes Surf Club and began surfing redwood boards at Bluffs Cove in the mid 1930s. In the mid ‘60s, Meine started “The International Surfing Magazine” out of Hermosa Beach with photographer and fellow Palos Verdes Surf Club member and Hermosa Beach Surf Walk of Fame inductee Leroy Grannis, editor Dick Graham, and surf filmmaker Bud Browne. The magazine evolved into “Surfing Magazine.” Meine continued to surf Bluffs Cove through his late 70s.
Matt Kivlin's Californian and Hawaiian peers respected him as the best California surfer of the postwar '40s into the 1950s. Many point to him as the originator of the classical California point style: riding small, perfectly peeling waves with knees and ankles together and slightly flexed, torso upright, arms gracefully spread low and balanced, slotted deep, in perfect trim and control."
"Kivlin built boards for that type of surfing, thin-railed blades with speedy pointed outlines-boards foam impresario Gordon Clark regards as being closely related to the modern equipment of today, but over fifty years ago! All surfing that followed Kivlin was either directly or indirectly influenced by his approach."–Steve Pezman
The surfing world lost a genuine legend, Kivlin passed away from complications from pneumonia on Sunday, March 9. Photo: Joe Quigg, Matt Kivlin, and Tom Zahn, returning from Hawaii on the Lurline. March 1948. Photo: Joe Quigg collection
Natalie Kotsch never surfed, but she was one of surfing's biggest supporters. She and co-founder, Ann Beasley both shared a love for the ocean and for their home town of Huntington Beach. They opened the International Surfing Museum in 1987. The ISM has played host to a number of first-class exhibits as well as establishing "Surfin' Sundays," a series of free concerts that featured top artists such as Dick Dale. In recognition of her work, Huntington Beach named Natalie Citizen of the Year in 1991 and in 1998 she was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame. Then, in 2013, Huntington Beach gave Natalie its highest honor, a Key to City. Natalie passed away on February 20, 2014, after a long bout with cancer. She was 75.
Top photo of Bruce is from the Shapers Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Bottom photo: December, 1965, Rocky Point. Both photos: Leo Hetzel
Here's Bruce's website: http://www.brucejones.com/history.htm
There will be a memorial and paddleout on Saturday November 9, 11:30am-3pm in Malibu, at Surfrider beach. Celebrate the life of Buttons Kaluhiokalani and support his wife Hiriata Hart and family.
Shaper Bruce Grant, passed away quite unexpectedly on October 29. We had just seen Bruce at our hosting of the Longboard Collectors Club meeting at the SHACC just a few days earlier. There will be a paddle out on Nov. 16 at 3pm at Torrance Beach, just down the ramp of the parking lot. Here's a nice piece Surfline.com did on Bruce. RIP Bruce Grant
He initially seemed in good spirits after the unwitnessed accident, but lapsed into unconsciousness soon after being taken to hospital and had since suffered bleeding and swelling on the brain.
Wife Jane and their three sons, along with brother Ian, were at his side.
Al was renowned for his mastery of the complex six-channel concave surfboard design, which blew minds under numerous surfers' feet in the late 1970s and 1980s and continues to be sought after by clients both high-profile and hardcore.
He was also a complete tube pig whose second place at the 1981 Pipe Masters was just one highlight in a life spent getting barrelled in Indonesia, Hawaii and on the magical Gold Coast points, where he made his home from 1975.
It is understood AB shrugged off ill-health in order to get a crack at Padang's pits with only three other people in the water -- a typical move for a surfer who celebrated his 60th birthday with a tow-in session at 20-foot-plus Phantom Reef in Hawaii.
Social media has been lit up with messages of hope from around the surfing world since news of the accident broke this week. However, Al's condition took a turn for the worse this morning and he passed away quietly a few hours ago. (Posted on Surfline.com on August 8, 2013. Photo: Andrew Kidman)
In 1946, fame was in the future for several new Santa Monica lifeguards/interview of Dave Heisen in 2008: http://www.latimes.com/features/la-ig-lookback20-2008jul20,0,686351.story
Longtime supporter and good friend of Surfing Heritage, Tom “TJ” Johnston passed away in the hospital from complications due to pneumonia. TJ started coming by for a visit about the same time Surfing Heritage opened its doors here in San Clemente back in 2005. Always cheerful, he’d invariably ask, “So how’s the Old Fart doing?” referring to his longtime friend and Surfing Heritage Founder, Dick Metz. TJ had a knack of just missing Dick by 10 minutes on nearly every visit but that didn’t deter him from taking a little time to chat with each of us or to introduce himself to those he hadn’t met yet. And I might be wrong but–every time we saw him, he was getting shorter and shorter and his socks were getting higher and higher–at some point he was going to become a baseball cap and a pair of socks! We’re going to really miss his visits.
Esther Williams, whose experiences as a young swimming champion led to a career of Hollywood “aqua-musicals” designed just for her, died on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 91. Williams was one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1940s and 1950s. She was known as “Hollywood's Mermaid” and “The Queen of the Surf.” At her peak, the woman with the wide smile and bright eyes was second in earnings only to Betty Grable and often in the top 10 box-office draws.
Sally Yater passed away today, May 1, 2013. Sally owned the Bikini Factory in Summerland, CA, but most will recognize the Yater name from (Reynold) Yater Surfboards of Santa Barbara. Sally was Renny's longtime wife and mother of Lauren Yater. Not only was Sally a seamstress, she was also a cook and author. You can read some of her recipes HERE. On the rare occasion, she would accompany Renny on his trips down the coast, stopping by the Surfing Heritage on their way to the various shops that carried the Yater label. She was always a sweetheart, very polite, and you just knew she and Renny were a great couple. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Renny and the Yater family, she will be greatly missed.
Buzz Sutfin passes away
Hello, Everyone, Our hearts are breaking as we are writing this to tell you that our wonderful Buzz, husband, father, and friend to all, passed away peacefully Sunday afternoon. We are reeling because it was so sudden, but after speaking with his doctors, we now understand that the suddenness was a gift to him and to us, because the decline would have taken months but would have been inevitable.
From the Memorial coordinator, Mary Simpson:
Good evening everyone.
Daryl "Doggie" Diamond (1946-2013)
To view photos taken at the Oceanside Pier ceremony held on November 10, you can click Here.