Hobie Alter "1997 Surf Culture"

Develop polyurethane boards, forever changing the face of surfing

Perhaps nobody has been responsible for the growth and development of surfing as much as Hobart "Hobie" Alter. Born in 1933, he began surfing in Laguna Beach at the age of 16 and made the finals of the Makaha International in 1958 and 1959.

PHOTO: Mike Haley, Linda Benson, Hobie Alter and Dave Willingham on Waikiki 1962. Photo courtesy of Clarence Maki Family.


 PHOTO: Hobie Alter. Photo courtesy of ASG/Surfing Magazine Archive.

Alter began shaping boards from balsa wood in his father's garage in 1950. By 1954, he opened Hobie Surfboards in Dana Point. Four years later, along with laminator Gordon Clark, he was the first manufacturer to develop polyurethane foam surfboard blanks, forever changing the face of surfing. Alter’s brand was the industry leader for the next decade, selling up to 6,500 boards annually through the mid-‘60s.

He went on to develop skateboards, catamarans, beachwear and eyewear under his “Hobie” label. Alter was awarded the Waterman Achievement Award from the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association in 1993. He passed away from cancer at the age of 80 in 2014.