Author Paul Holmes digs deep on SoCal legend
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 August, 2014 - Journalist and author Paul Holmes' latest book is the biography of a man who is such a rock star in the worlds of surfing and sailing that he is known worldwide by just one name. Hobie Alter's genius and innovation shaped and changed the entire cultures of both sports for posterity.
Hobie, the man and the brand, created an empire of surfboards, catamarans, monohull sailboats, powered craft, radio-controlled model gliders, apparel, sunglasses and more. And that was just the foundation for many other amazing endeavors in this incredible life story of a Californian surfer whose prime motivation was always simply, in his own words, "to build them a toy, and a game to play with it."
Twenty-seven months in the making, this superb quality 300-page book comprises 120,000 words of text in 17 chapters, accompanied by 585 photographs and illustrations that document Hobie's entire life and career. It's an epic by any measure and a fitting testament to an amazing man who passed away earlier this year.
From Hobie's earliest times growing up in Ontario and Laguna Beach, to his late-teenage success as a pioneer surfboard maker, Holmes shows how Hobie's passion and vision extended far beyond the basics of board building and how he revolutionized surfboards by introducing polyurethane foam as a substitute for balsa wood, making surfing accessible to millions of people around the world and popularizing the sport.
Later, in a spectacular career shift, Hobie revolutionized the sailing scene, too, by designing and manufacturing small catamarans. In 1999, Yachting magazine honored the Hobie 16 as "the most produced boat in history." Even today, forty years after the boat was first launched, there are an estimated 100,000 Hobie 16s being sailed around the world.
When Hobie Alter "retired" in 1986, he spent four years and $1.3 million dollars designing and building a unique 60-foot power cat, Katie Sue, on which to cruise to his new home at Orcas Island in the Straits of San Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington State. The vessel, says author Holmes, "is a luxury hotel suite that makes 20 knots at full throttle."