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.
Hobie received the Waterman Achievement award from the Surfing Industry Manufacturers Association in 1993, was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1997 and admitted as an inaugural member of the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2011 alongside Dennis Connor and Ted Turner.
Details of Memorial Services are pending, and in keeping with the tradition of the Waterman, there will also be a surfer’s “Paddle Out” in front of the family’s Oak Street home in Laguna Beach, where it all began. Date/time TBD.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a donation to either:
Sport of Kings Foundation – in Memory of Hobie Alter PO Box 2499 Capistrano Beach, CA 92624 http://sportofkingsfoundation.org
Surfing Heritage Culture Center – Hobie Alter Scholarship Fund http://www.surfingheritage.org
Orcas Island Community Foundation – Deer Harbor Volunteer Fire Department– in Memory of Hobie Alter www.oicf.us
Courtesy of hobie.com]]>
After crossing the finish line in San Salvador in the Bahamas this morning, November 6th, just before 0600hrs GMT, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s maxi trimaran, Spindrift 2, has beaten the previous record for the Discovery Route, held since 2007 by Franck Cammas and his maxi trimaran, Groupama 3, by more than 20 hours (20 hours, 29 minutes and 32 seconds).
Spindrift 2 left Cadiz (Spain) on October 30 at 1519hrs and 34 seconds GMT. The crew of 14 on the largest racing trimaran in the world, now holds the record time for the 3,885 miles route after setting a new time 6 days, 14 hours, 29 minutes and 21 seconds at an average speed of 24.5 knots. Spindrift 2’s actual distance traveled was 4,503 nautical miles at an average of 28.41 knots.
It is an achievement full of astonishing statistics with Spindrift 2 traveling 714.4 miles in one day last Friday, at the extraordinary average speed of 29.7 knots. One burst of speed was recorded peaking at 46.08 knots.
While the great white, black and gold bird is heading to Miami without a pit stop, and still enjoying a good breeze, Bertarelli and Guichard are celebrating with the crew this first beautiful page in the history of Spindrift 2, written without error and with great seriousness and professionalism.
A tough last night: “Passing through the transition zone was marked by numerous storms, we entered without transition or virtually in strong north-east winds. We had 30 and 35 knots all night and the sea state got worse rapidly, with troughs of 5 to 6 metres and with short and crossed waves. It was like in the Mediterranean! It was pretty exhausting. The boat accelerated quickly down the waves and the helm was pretty stressful. We had to head west fast without putting too much strain on the equipment. We were racing against the clock and that times goes very quickly.”
Crossing the line: “It was a rare moment and a little strange because as San Salvador is a small island surrounded by beaches we had to approach very close to shore to distinguish the boat which had the official from the World Speed Sailing Record Council on board. It was a little stressful because of the proximity of the sandbanks. Then there was an eruption of joy on board…a beautiful moment.”
For more, including a video, visit www.spindrift-racing.com]]>
The Head to Head was scheduled ahead of tomorrow’s PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic Auckland to Russell Yacht Race to get some much wanted answers about which of the two extreme 60-foot trimarans would be faster.
In moderate Westerly conditions and with Emirates Team New Zealand Skipper Dean Barker aboard for his first race since the America’s Cup, Sean Langman’s Team Australia gained an early lead over Kiwi Simon Hull’s TeamVodafone, gybing from Westhaven down the Waitemata to be several hundred metres ahead when the boats reached Orakei and North Head.
The hammer went down once they reached clearer air in the open harbour, and both boats screamed towards Rangitoto Light at close to thirty knots. With the exception of in short bursts, neither one seemed to make significant gains on the other.
A navigational error meant that Team Australia needed to change course within a kilometre of the rounding mark, which gave TeamVodafone the opportunity to march on ahead.
The boats turned upwind at the mark and TeamVodafone, which carried a bigger headsail and later shook the reef in its main to increase its sail area again, showed instant upwind speed over its rival.
Once back inside North Head, the boats played the game of finding consistent air and maintaining boat speed for the few miles back to the finish off of Westhaven Marina, with TeamVodafone crossing the line far ahead of Team Australia.
Is this result indicative of what will happen tomorrow? Observers say it was difficult to judge. Team Australia expected the breeze to build when it in fact dropped, and was hampered by an early decision to use a smaller headsail – but they won’t let that happen in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic. In racing on the Queensland circuit two years ago, before significant modification to both boats, Team Australia showed pace in light airs, but TeamVodafone took them out comfortably in the Sydney to Southport, the only other coastal race where boats have lined up together.
For Sean Langman, Simon Hull and their crews, it’s almost certain that they finished the day with as many questions as they started with.
The spectacular mass start for the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is off Devonport Wharf at 10am on Friday 25 October.
The boats race in eight race divisions categorised by size and speed. A chance to win an Audi A1 is one of the feature prizes, along with another $30,000 of technological and marine related gear from sponsors that include PIC Insurance Brokers, B&G, Jackson Electrical Industries Limited, Yachting New Zealand, Dirty Dog, Elf Oils, Musto, Mount Gay Rum, Railblaza, and PredictWind.com.
The PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic is organised by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club. Boat tracking, commentary, sked times, photos and video will be available from race start on www.coastalclassic.co.nz.]]>
The defender won Race 14 by 23 seconds and Race 15 by 37 seconds in two wire-to-wire victories. ORACLE TEAM USA trails Emirates Team New Zealand 8-5 on the scoreboard and 8-7 in victories (the team’s first two victories weren’t counted due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury), but has won four straight since Emirates Team New Zealand got to match point on Wednesday.
“All in all, a fantastic job by the team,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We got off the line well in both races, Ben (Ainslie, tactician) and Tom (Slingsby, strategist) made some high-pressure decisions, and in terms of physicality it was one of the toughest days out there given how up and down the wind range was. The boys on the handles (the grinders) dug in and were rewarded.”
ORACLE TEAM USA came off the start line to leeward of Emirates Team New Zealand in both races and controlled the match approaching the first turning mark. Each time Spithill luffed counterpart Dean Barker to gain the slight bit of distance needed to lead onto the ensuing run. The Kiwis made strong efforts on the upwind and second downwind legs to close the gaps, but could never get past the defender.
Barker wrote off today to poor positioning on the start line and poor performance on the first downwind legs. Interestingly, ORACLE TEAM USA gained a total of 75 seconds on the first downwind leg in each race and Emirates Team New Zealand gained 37 seconds on the upwind legs.
“Yes, we’re fast enough to win this,” said Barker. “With that we have to sail well. We let ourselves down today on both first downwinds. It was hard where we started in both races. We were behind at Mark 1 both times and gave up too much distance on the downwinds. The boys worked hard and made gains upwind, but it was never quite enough to put pressure on ORACLE TEAM USA.”
ORACLE TEAM USA’s Ainslie also spoke of the difficulty on the racecourse, with the wind puffy and patchy. But when the wind strength increased in the second race, the crew unleashed ORACLE TEAM USA and it began foiling upwind – a mode where the boat looks its best.
“Foiling upwind is a decision between me, Tom and Jimmy a bit, and it’s got to do with wind pressure,” said Ainslie. “If we see that we have good pressure and a good shift we’re happy to go in that mode. Today a bit in the second race we had good pressure and were happy to go fast the way we were going. It’s important to do it at the right time. If you do it at the wrong time on the outside of a shift or a header you can lose as much as you’d possibly gain.”
Tomorrow marks Day 17 of the 34th America’s Cup, which will put the match in the history books as the longest ever. Lighter conditions are forecast, yet still strong enough to conduct racing. But if today was patchy, tomorrow could be worse, adding pressure to both teams who have no margin for error.
“It’s right there for the taking, we just have to put a solid race together,” said Barker. “We didn’t do as good a job as what we expected today. We’re not down, we know we can win this thing, we just have to go out tomorrow and do a much better job.”
“This is a team that has been through a lot in this campaign,” said Spithill. “We’ve faced all sorts of adversity. We capsized Boat 1, everything going on before match, taking away 2 points and our wing trimmer, but the team didn’t wave the white flag. Now the boat is so much quicker that we believe we can win this. And we’ve got a wave of momentum behind us that’s getting bigger every day.”
Races 16 and 17 are slated for tomorrow, scheduled to start at 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. PT. In the U.S., the America’s Cup Finals will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network. Replays will be available on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.
Internationally, the America’s Cup Final can be viewed in more than 170 territories. All racing is also live on America’s Cup YouTube channel (subject to territorial restrictions).
You can also follow racing with America’s Cup App for android and iOS devices.
Courtesy of Sean McNeill/americascup.com]]>
All crew are safe and sound, but Jacques Guichard, skipper Yann’s brother and a key member of the crew, was hurt in the accident. Both brothers were airlifted by helicopter to the hospital in Dublin, where Jacques was diagnosed with fractures to the pelvis.
Yann Guichard, the skipper of Spindrift explained the circumstances of the capsize: “We had 22 to 24 knots of wind on the start line with gusts of up to 30 knots at the lower end of the course. We were at the limit of weather conditions for our boats and it was not great for racing. All the MODs had one reef in the main and staysail. We started a bit below and behind the fleet and found ourselves slightly in a wind shadow. When our rivals had moved away we had a sudden gust literally flattened us.
“I was unable to do anything at the helm, the boat was turned over with a single blow. We let out out the staysail immediately, but it was too late as it all happened in a split second. the boat was lifted onto the port float and went over. Jacques was with me in the cockpit and we found ourselves in the net … we managed to get out and then were airlifted. The mast broke in two when Spindrift turned over. The frame of the trimaran was towed away to the port. ”
All the crew, with the help of the whole Spindrift racing team, immediately mobilized to secure the frame and make sure the towing operation went safely. The trimaran will be returned to base in port and the Spindrift racing team will quickly and expertly assess the damage. The team will then seek a solution from the boat’s home base in Saint Philibert.
Courtesy of www.thedailysail.com]]>
In his quest to beat the North Atlantic record, Francis Joyon on board IDEC, has smashed Thomas Coville’s 2008 record by 16 hours, 34 minutes and 30 seconds. Joyon completed his journey in a time of 5 days, 2 hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds.
Over the final stretch, Francis Joyon came very close to beating his own outright distance record over 24 hours (666.2 miles) and this enabled the Breton skipper to make important gains over the second half of the crossing, in spite of sailing some distance away from the Great Circle Route.
Courtesy of Mer et Media/Sail World]]>
The final 24 hours in New York were very stressful for the Breton sailor from Locmariaquer, as everything was a bit of a rush. He had to find a RIB to help him out of Gateway Marina, finish stowing supplies aboard, work on the final weather details… and once again, as we have come to expect, Francis Joyon in his usual style, took care of everything himself, while benefiting whenever possible from any kind offers of help from other seafarers on the pontoons. Once out of the bay off New York, the ‘big red bird’, IDEC was free to fly in the open waters of the Atlantic.
The SW’ly wind was blowing as forecast off Ambrose Light, and in spite of a heavy swell, Francis Joyon was able to speed off from the outset at record pace with the speedo stuck above 23 knots. ‘The swell was hitting us as we left Ambrose Light,’ Francis Joyon explained at lunchtime today. He was happy to be alone again at sea and relieved to have made it out of the Hudson and away from the shoreline without hitch, in spite of a few anxious moments. His final hours in the Big Apple were rather rushed.
For more visit www.sail-world.com]]>
BWS walked through the NEEL 45 at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis last October and came away impressed. From the looks of it, this new 60 is a continuance of NEEL’s unique and innovative styling.
The latest arrival to the NEEL Trimarans family is a statement of intent with its “Sport Chic” navigation style.The NEEL 60 is a lightweight craft with sleek lines and all the sailing qualities of its smaller brother the NEEL 45.
High Performance, fine helming and good sea keeping. Full comfort inside and out with different living spaces to enjoy company, a single level layout for the saloon, cockpit and cabins as well as a flybridge for relaxing sailing.
Interior by Franck Darnet Design combines a contemporary feel with sober and refined materials.
The layout it highly functional with generous, conserved living spaces, five double cabins, six bathrooms and an independent crew cabin.
The concept is unique, responding to the requirements of crewed charter usage as well as family cruising, with different versions available.
For more information www.neel-trimarans.com]]>
Paradox was just 11 minutes and 47 seconds outside the course record, which has stood since the very first edition of the race. However, Peter Aschenbrenner was still up-beat dockside: “Fantastic conditions, really amenable to Paradox, that was a dream ride,” smiled Peter. “We’re really surprised that we were so close to the record. That time was set by a race boat and we are just a cruising trimaran with three year old sails. So to get that close was really astonishing and a testament to what a great boat Paradox is.”
In the Multihull Class, Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66, Phaedo needs to finish by 12:52:30 to beat Paradox. At 05:35 (local time) Phaedo was 81.2 miles from the finish.
Courtesy of www.yachtingworld.com]]>
After conducting load testing over the weekend, 17 was launched on a grey morning in San Francisco, with the team hoping to sail later in the day as the skies began to clear.
Photo credit: © Guilain GRENIER / ORACLE TEAM USA
This is the first of the two AC72 wing sail catamarans that ORACLE TEAM USA will build. It has been in the shed for repairs since a spectacular capsize in mid-October. The team’s second AC72 is due to come on stream later in the spring.
General manager Grant Simmer says the design and build crews did more than just repair the boat; this is an improved version of boat one, with several key modifications.
“We’ve changed to wheel (from tiller) steering, that’s a big one,” he said, referring the bright red steering wheels that are placed at the back of the cockpit in each hull now.
“The fairing on the front beam has become more substantial than it was. We’ve revised a lot of the systems on the boat. We’ve got the next generation of boards in the boat, that was always planned, so we’re moving forward with that. And this is the second wing too. It has subtle developments throughout but the profile is fairly similar to the original one, so it looks quite similar.”
Simmer says the latest version of 17 may show less twist in the platform, one of the characteristics that drew plenty of comment following the first sailing days.
“The amount that the platform racked (twisted) was a trade-off with weight and windage in the structure of the boat,” he explained. “That trade-off is still there. We’ve made some subtle changes that will reduce the racking, but again, it’s a design decision trading off windage and weight.”
Simmer says the plan is to work up the boat slowly before turning it loose as the month progresses.
“Today we’re taking it cautiously and luckily it’s a light wind day. We’re just getting the systems working on the boat. We’ll be on the mooring for a couple of hours setting things up and then, hopefully, we’ll go for a sail.”
Courtesy of www.americascup.com