Hobie Surf: Big Trees in the Surf

19. January 2015

Courtesy of Josh Martin -Martin Shapes


Wood is orthotropic - the strength is predominantly along one axis. Parallel to the grain, tensile is very high and compression strength is good. Perfect for a core material in surfboard construction. Particularly surfboards designed for big surf. Wood provides for superior control, a smooth ride and durability. The "cadillac" of surfboard materials.

Far West Forest products provided me with some very special surfboard wood... Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) greatest of the redwoods, the earth’s largest tree and largest living thing by volume.

Giant Sequoia

This wood came from private property in the Sierra Nevada. Three Sequoia giants had fallen in a windstorm. These trees were estimated to have been between 2,000 and 3,400 years old when they finally succumbed to the forces of nature. Far West secured the rights to harvest the wood from these trees.

California Redwood is rooted in early surfboard construction. Redwood logs washed down rivers out into the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally a log would find its way to the shores of Hawaii. The islanders prized this wood for its relatively light weight, resistance to decay, workability and beauty. Far West Forest Products just so happens to be a dealer for Wood-Mizer sawmills. They made short work of a "log" slicing a portion of it into manageable size pieces for me.


I cut the lengths of wood putting proper rocker (surfboard curve) into them.

The wood is assembled in order and numbered. Index lines are drawn for maintaining proper placement. The priceless nature of this wood calls for the utmost in careful planning. One misplaced piece, and a wrong cut would be costly.

Not all surfboards work well when built from wood in the traditional fashion. "Gun" type surfboards used in large powerful surf, however, are perfect candidates for redwood construction. The weight and lack of flex provide for smooth and desirable control when attempting to successfully ride big waves. Several boards I own inspired the template used in this board I built for Far West. All built by my father Terry Martin.

It was fitting that this particular board be branded as a Hobie. My father shaped Hobie surfboards for 50 years; I shape for Hobie and the boards inspiring this one are of Hobie design. I'd like to add that much of this design was influenced by Gerry Lopez and his Lightning Bolt Model. Many of his boards were shaped by my father and built at Hobie's Capistrano Beach factory during the 70's. I own and have surfed a redwood lighting bolt style single fin my father made. It has incredible wave catching ability and is exceptionally smooth riding.

Each piece of wood is partially hollowed out to reduce excessive weight. These "chambers" are staggered from one piece to the next for structural integrity. Premium wood glue is rolled out onto each side in preparation for clamping.

The board is then assembled, clamped, allowed to cure, and outlined for cutting.

Far West Forest Products specializes in supplying California native woods. They asked if I could incorporate some especially beautiful native White Oak into this board. I milled three pieces to serve as "stringers" and built a fin for this board out of the oak.


Hand shaping a surfboard is where it's at for me. Vintage tools utilized in a craft passed from father to son.


The shaped board was delivered to The Waterman’s Guild for glassing where Greg Martz and his crew did a beautiful job. Many steps go into the process of glassing a wood board. Great care is taken at each step resulting in a durable, mirror-like and waterproof finish. Fine extras like a traditional "glassed on" fin and glass leash loop are a wonderful form and function.

Hobie Alter founded his brand with the wood surfboard.

Story courtesy of Josh Martin - Martin Shapes

The finished product is incredibly satisfying to me. It’s so much more than just a surfing board. It’s about the majestic tree it came from. The family craft I get to live. The extended family of craftsmen I work with. The blessing of talent from the Creator of all things. There’s pure joy in this board. And it’s ready to ride, lasting for generations to come.

So thankful... -Joshua Martin





Categories: Surfboards |

MasterCraft Partners with Hobie to Create Custom Line of Wakesurf Boards

22. October 2014

Having perfected the endless wave, MasterCraft is now collaborating with iconic surf brand Hobie to create a line of custom wakesurf boards that bring together the best attributes of coastal and inland surfing. Hawaii-based musician and Hobie ambassador Donavon Frankenreiter served as the inspiration behind the first signature model drawing upon his love for classic, early era short boards and his complete embodiment of the island lifestyle.

The 5-foot, 4-inch “Donny” delivers the feel of a traditional surfboard with specific modifications made to take advantage of the extended surfing zones found only behind MasterCraft boats. Light and responsive with recessed inserts for up to four fins, the custom shaped board is ideal for carving, slashing or spinning on boat-sculpted waves while still holding its own in coastal surf. The graphics evoke the laidback lifestyle of the islands mixed with soulful music, including a prominent silhouette of Donavon’s signature ‘stache.

“Surfing has always been more than a mere pastime for me. It blends together my passion for the islands with my love of family and friends,” noted Frankenreiter. “MasterCraft’s new boats allow me to easily create and share this surf experience, while the masterful craftsmen at Hobie have artfully shaped a high-performance board, perfect for behind the boat or in the ocean.”

Hobie Alter, the man behind the Hobie brand, starting shaping surfboards back in 1950 and ended up shaping an entire culture. Forever tied to the roots of surfing, Hobie has played an instrumental role over the years in progressing watersports. Hobie has embraced the growing sport of inland surfing and teamed up with some of the most progressive wake surf designers to create boards that perform yet embrace Donavon's soulful classic surfing style.

MasterCraft has incorporated the culture surrounding coastal surfing into its new line of surf-centric boats, including the 2015 X20 and X23, which come equipped with the award-winning Gen 2 Surf Systems capable of turning inland bodies of water into premium oceanfront property. MasterCraft, Frankenreiter and their network of family and friends recently chronicled their epic surf trips to Mexico and Hawaii through the “Blurring the Lines” video series that highlight the intricately laced lifestyles associated with coastal and inland surfing.

To purchase a limited edition Donavon Frankenreiter Hobie wakesurf board, please visit where dedicated wake surfers can peruse an entire line of lifestyle products. The Donavon Frankenreiter Hobie wakesurf board is available now for $799.

Categories: Surfboards |

Hobie Alter Recieves Special Recognition Award at 25th Waterman's Ball

17. August 2014

Hobie Alter received a special recognition award at the 25th Annual SIMA Waterman's Ball for his lifetime contributions to surfing and surf retail.  In 1954 he opened the Hobie Surfboards shop in Dana Point, Calif. It was the first surf shop defined by a retail professionalism. Previous surf shops were guerrilla operations. Jeff Alter received the award for his late father who passed away March of this year. He shared the stage with this years award recipients Rusty Preisendorfer, Ted Danson, and Tom Carroll.

Over the past 24 years, the SIMA Environmental Fund has raised more than $6.5 million for organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our oceans, beaches and surf breaks. The Waterman’s Ball includes both a silent and live auction, as well as a time of recognition to the 2014 Waterman’s Weekend honorees – individuals who have made a lasting impact on the surf industry and are dedicated to protecting our ocean environment. All funds raised during the Waterman’s Ball are given to the 19 SIMA Environmental Fund beneficiaries – ocean-related environmental organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our oceans.



Categories: Surfboards | History |

Hobie Surf :: Hot Curl Nation

1. May 2014

Martin Shapes Hot Curls

My dad introduced the hot curl surfboard to me. I remember being so proud every time I walked into the original Hobie store in Dana Point as a young boy. I’d look up at the vintage surfboard collection lined up around the walls. One of the boards in the most prominent spot was my dads. This particular board was one of the first boards he made. The board was a varnished (no fiberglass and resin) 10 foot Balsa and Redwood finless hot curl. The last board he made is a replica of these first hot curls. It is on display for all to see and appreciate at the current Hobie store in Dana Point.

When my dad started surfing there were no surf shops in San Diego. Very few surfboards existed. Most of the boards being ridden were called ‘planks”. The outline was very straight and they had little if anything for a fin. They were anywhere from 80 to 100 pounds. Very difficult to simply carry to the water let alone ride a wave with. Pretty much the only other boards around were “prone style” hollow wooden paddleboards. Neither of these designs were acceptable boards to my dad when it came to his idea of what you might best surf on. He set out to make his own conception of a surfboard. He told me he’d seen a picture of what they called a Hawaiian board at the time. The look of the Hawaiian board made sense to him. This is what he based his first board on. Made out of lightweight Balsawood his first one finished out at around 20 pounds, had a pulled in tail, belly in the bottom contour, tucking into a vee bottomed tail section. No fin was attached, although he told me they did experiment with some small keel type fins on some of the hot curls he made. In the end the design remained finless.


His favorite place to surf was down the street from his parent’s house on Point Loma. A spot the other surfers called “Terry’s Slide”. The wave works best at low tide and had quite a bit of kelp in the lineup. As surfing became more popular board designs evolved. Fins were becoming a common fixture on surfboards. Terry’s Slide was generally discarded as a potential surf spot due to kelp interfering with your fin while surfing and hungry rocks ate lost surfboards on the inside. Leashes were not used at this time. The finless hot curl slid right over the kelp and due to its reduced weight was easier to hang onto in the event you fell. My dad and his brother (liked to ride a hot curl as well) had this great wave to themselves. This break is called “Osprey” today.

I spent quite a bit of time in and around my dad’s shaping room starting at a young age. My first real job was as the clean up kid at the old Hobie factory in Capistrano Beach. I graduated from pushing a broom around to cutting out and foiling fins. Foiling fins was to me like simply shaping a surfboard on a small scale. I had to make more than one at a time and they needed to be accurately duplicated. I didn’t get paid hourly but by the piece. I was anxious to reduce time spent at work. Priority was pursuing “more important things” like diving, surfing, fishing and such. I sought input from my dad as to how I might develop a method of accurately and quickly duplicating fins. He was great at creating systems for making any task easier, quicker, and most importantly produce a consistent high quality result. Needless to say I got better and quicker at fin foiling.


In the late 80′s I began shaping full time at Just add Water Surfboards in Laguna Canyon. Soon after I started I was presented with an opportunity to shape several hundred identical boards for display in JC Penny’s. I was to be paid half of what I’d make for shaping any other board at the time but I chose to accept the offer. I ended up rather annoyed as the quantity of boards requested doubled shortly after I agreed to the initial order. There were no computer shaping programs or CNC shaping machines at this point. The boards were to be hand shaped. I remember my dad telling me this was a great chance to hone my production skills. I look back today and think to myself what a privilege to have had that opportunity. Systems and methods developed back then are second nature muscle memory today.


Not to many people make a living at simply shaping surfboards. It is not an overly lucrative trade and generally does not come with standard employee benefits like health insurance, sick pay, etc.. My mom needed a medical procedure at one point. My dad didn’t have the cash to pay for it so he took a quick inventory of items he might sell to pay for the operation. The hot curl in Hobies came to mind. A quick call to good friend and surfboard collector Flippy Hoffman and it was a done deal. Operation paid for and Flippy had my dad’s unique hot curl added to his collection. Years passed and I’d occasionally think of that board. About 15 years ago I began asking my dad about that hot curl. Why no fin? How many did he make? Did other guys ride them? What kind of waves did they ride? What kind of maneuvers were they able to perform? Did he ever make one out of foam? Many good stories were told.

One day my dad surprised me with a gift. A beautiful 10′ Balsa/Mahogany hot curl replica, like the ones he first made. This board hangs in my living room. He signed it with an inscription that reads “PASSING YOUTHFULL MEMORIES OF THE EARLY 50’s TO MY SON IS A JOY TO MY HEART – LOVE DAD”. I remember really debating whether or not to ride it. The fact that it is 70 pounds and if lost on a wave will go straight to the beach due to lack of a fin (possibly decapitating a couple people on the way) led me to request a “rider” model. We ordered a 12’3″ Clark Foam blank. Made with classic foam and 3 nice thick Basswood stringers. We were looking for some weight. The hot curl design my father utilized needs weight to perform as intended. 30 to 40 pounds was our target weight. I spent a day with him shaping it. Learning from him how the wave would “cradle” the curves and contours we put into the board. Glassed with a double layer of Volan top and bottom the board made its target weight. It is easier to surf than I imagined. Based on this board I am currently making hot curls out of both foam and traditional Balsawood. US Blanks recently did a fabulous job of building a custom “hot curl” rockered 10’8Y blank in “tow” weight for me. This made for a beautiful 10 foot 35 pound rider. Their 11’3D blank works quite well too, again with the custom rocker.

There are a few hurdles (mostly in my mind) I find I need to overcome in riding my hot curl. The tail does not “lift” when catching a wave, giving me the impression I have not caught the wave. The board does initially want to broach a bit until the wave has “caught” it. White water is not your friend. The air in the white water causes cavitation. The wave “lets go” of the board and control is lost. I don’t argue with this fact but find it funny that there is really only about 6 inches of “sweet spot” in which to stand on a 10 foot board. You cannot tail turn a hot curl. Nose riding is not much of an option. If the board has the correct shape and weight the wave interacts with the board in such a natural way. The board seems to just “find” natural trim. The wave “cradles” the board. You are surfing “in” the wave, not on it. The kind of surf I like to ride mine in is a lined up feathering wall. My dad always said the bigger and better the wave the better the hot curl works. I find that they are quite fun in small surf too but it’s best to have long wall to trim on. They feel very nimble in the water for the length and weight. I like to describe the hot curl ride as if you are allowed to play the roll of passenger but you must behave. If you do, you will be rewarded with a unique rich glide into a wonderful corner of the surfing experience.

-Josh Martin


Editors Note :: Inspired by Jeff Quam’s soulful surfing style, 6 of us from Hobie Surf Shop asked to meet him at Doheny to try his mythical finless ‘Hot Curl’ surfboards. It was a trip!!  There was a LOT of falling and a LOT of laughing as we all gave them our best go…. the boards worked the best when you stopped trying to ride them, and instead, let the board take you where it wanted to go. Thank you to Terry Martin, Josh Martin, Jeff Quam, Andy Cowell, and the lovely waters of Doheny for making this a session to remember. Enjoy!!

Categories: Surfboards | History |

Hobie Surfboards: Donavon's Lil' Blue Barrel

29. April 2014

Donavon just back from hosting the at the Billabong Adventure Camp Surf with a Pro at the  Kandui Resort on the Mentawai Islands.

He scored some super fun waves on his fresh Gary Larson shaped Donavon Models



Categories: Surfboards |

Hobie Memorial - Share your Hobie Day, Where ever you are

16. April 2014

The global response to Hobie’s passing has been monumental; astronomical would be a more accurate description. Over the past few weeks, the effect that Hobie Alter had on people’s lives has been shared across every medium imaginable. We have received heart felt letters, pictures, mementos, and countless stories of how a Hobie invention created a lifetime memory or contributed to a way of life. It has lit up social media with a plethora of tweets, posts, threads, and creative hash tagging. It even made the nightly news.

 We recently posted information about upcoming memorials and paddle outs, and once again the response was nothing less than amazing! For those who can make one of the events, we welcome you and look forward to remembering an amazing man who created toys so that we all could have a little more fun.
Unfortunately, due to the vastness of this large blue marble that we all share, not everyone can make it.  
If you can’t make either of the memorial events, we understand, but don’t let it stop you from “HAVING A HOBIE DAY.”
Even better, SHARE with us how you spent “YOUR HOBIE DAY”,
Paddle out or sail out we want to see it!!!
Post to social media and use 
Or submit your photos and video to
"Ride em if you have em"
It’s what Hobie would of wanted you to do!!!

Hobie Alter Paddle Out Information - Official

16. April 2014

Hobie Alter Memorial Information - Official

3. April 2014

Rest in Peace Hobie Alter - The Passing of a Legend

30. March 2014


San Juan Capistrano, CA - March 30, 2014
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 seen as the launch point for California’s iconic surf industry. Hobie himself was a top surfing competitor.
Having success with surfing, Hobie turned his attention to his other water-based passion, and after another series of tireless design testing, Hobie unveiled his namesake “Hobie Cat” which 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 the world to an outdoor lifestyle and collection of products that made things just a bit more fun for all of us. 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 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
Surfing Heritage Culture Center – Hobie Alter Scholarship Fund
Orcas Island Community Foundation – Deer Harbor Volunteer Fire Department– in Memory of Hobie Alter


Hobie Surf :: Josh Martin and the Resin Tail Block

3. January 2014
The Resin Tailblock Story... With Josh Martin.

The Resin Tailblock Story… With Josh Martin.

A Tail Block is a beautiful thing.

 This is an indisputable fact.

 A necessary thing? Maybe not. But, When properly shaped and applied, it is a beautiful thing for sure. So is the case with this truly unique Resin Tail Block crafted by Josh Martin. The resin was salvaged from the Hobie Factory floor back in the 1970′s by Terry Martin*,  Josh’s father, and has been repurposed into chopsticks, buttons, and now a footer for a Hobie Classic Longboard. Watch along and learn the story behind the resin and, even more importantly,  Josh teaches you step by step how to apply and shape your own Tail Block…. which, if you know the hermit like tendencies of most shapers, is almost as unique as the Resin Tail Block itself.

-Tracey Engelking


* strangely enough, Terry was never a fan of making tail blocks… ;)


Categories: Surfboards |