Hobie History: Inside Innovations of Hobie at Surfing Heritage

3. May 2012

Dick Metz and Hobie Alter

Saturday night we had the privilege to be at the opening night of the “Innovations of Hobie” exhibit at the Surfing Heritage Foundation. The collective minds of all who attended were sufficiently blown.

The very first board Hobie ever made.. it used to be 10', but the kid who it went to decided to chop it down and make it smaller. Dang kids!!!

No matter where you looked, genius was on display. From the Hobie CAT outside on the lawn, to board No.0000001, to the skateboards, snowboards, cross-sight golf, Hobie Hawks, to the walls lined with every advance in design throughout a 62 year history of handshaped boards.. oh, and that was before you walked into a room full of the greatest shapers in the world who turned out for the man named Hobie.

Some of the most legendary shapers the world has ever known sitting shoulder to shoulder.

Even one of the most reserved surfers and shapers came out… Phil Edwards. We were lucky enough to get a quick word and photo with the elusive Mr Edwards and asked him what he thought.. “very nice.” . We’ll take it.

Phil Edwards. Enough said.

Big booms of laughter and the phrase “Do you remember….” rang all night long. Here is a slideshow that will give you a taste of what we saw… Enjoy!!

The Innovations of Hobie will be open to the public April 29 to July 15, 2012 everyday from 11:00am to 5:00pm.

-Tracey Engelking - Hobie Surf Shops

Categories: Surfboards | History |

Hobie History: Innovations of Hobie at Surfing Heritage Foundation

27. April 2012

Hobie Alter... Craftsman, Waterman, Genius, Legend.

I really wanted the blog today to just be that photo and the words “Hobie Alter: Enough Said”…. but.. maybe that would have only meant something to me, so I’ll explain a little.

Take a wander around our offices in San Juan, you will see lots of typical stuff you would imagine would be going on in the warehouse of a surf company. Boards being shipped, merchandise coming in in huge boxes ready to be tagged and sent off to the shops, phones ringing, team riders looking for their next board.. ect. Look a little more closely in our warehouse, and you start to see it… our history. Pull out a box on a high shelf that you thought was full of catalogs, and find it full of Hobie Super Surfer Skateboard wheels from the 60′s. Move some papers and find a miniature model of a Hobie Cat. Go in for a meeting with Jeff Alter and see a photo of Hobie with a boat motor bolted to the back of a surfboard goofing around in the water. Open a drawer of laments and find that it is full of every sick logo you have seen on a board since forever. It goes on and on and on… from the first removable fin box and fin sitting in Mark Johnson’s office, to the knee board in the corner of Jake Schwaner’s, look in the rafters and there is a Hobie waterski… I know, right? Waterskis… who knew?? All this, and that doesn’t even take into account the boards…

Hobie Alter will always be cooler than us. Always.

Hobie’s heritage is present in every nook, cranny, and dusty box in our offices. It never gets old, and you never stop being in awe of it. Sadly, unless you come to work for us, you will never get to experience it the way we do. However, over the next few months, The Surfing Heritage Foundation will at least give you a taste of Hobie with their exhibition: Innovations of Hobie as curated by Barry Haun.

Innovations of Hobie: Details

To kick-off its new rotating exhibition series, Surfing Heritage Foundation is excited to announce the opening of the exhibition The Innovations of Hobie. The beach lifestyle apparel industry in Orange County-arguably the epicenter of the industry-has largely built itself from the early innovations of Hobie Alter. This exhibition focusing on the hallmarks of Hobie’s innovations includes surfboards, skateboards, clothing, catamarans, sunglasses, and gliders, augmented with historical photographs and ephemera. The exhibition will feature several prototypes for these remarkable innovations.

Some of Hobie’s Innovations

In 1954 Hobie opened the first “surf shop” that specifically manufactured and sold surfboards. Four years later, in 1958, Hobie and Gordon Clark began experimenting with foam and Fiberglass, creating boards that were quicker and more responsive than the wood boards available at the time. Demand for the new production Hobie boards were great and Gordon Clark launched Clark Foam, which became the industry standard for decades.

Teaming up with Vita-Pakt juice company in 1964 Hobie created Hobie Skateboards, the first production skateboard to be placed on the market. The Hobie Super Surfer Skateboard Team helped to quickly popularize skateboarding by giving a demonstration at a San Diego Chargers/Buffalo Bills football game that was aired on television on Thanksgiving day in 1964.

In the late 1960s, Hobie developed a prototype for a lightweight, fast, and fun catamaran, which ultimately lead to the Hobie Cats 14′s, 16′s, 17′s, 18′s and 20′s–the catamarans holding the distinction of being the world’s best selling sail boats.

Other Hobie innovations have followed over the years and include important work done on gliders, sunglasses, and other accessories.

One of hundreds of retro logos...

The Hobie Exhibition: When and Where

The Innovations of Hobie, organized by Surfing Heritage Foundation and curated by Barry Haun, is the inaugural exhibition launching Surfing Heritage Foundation’s new rotating exhibition program. The Innovations of Hobie will be open to the public April 29 to July 15, 2012 everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

An exhibition on the history of surfboards from the early 20th century to the present day will be on view in the adjacent permanent collection galleries, placing The Innovations of Hobie exhibition into context.

The special members’ only reception is Saturday, April 28. You can become a member of Surfing Heritage Foundation, and be invited to this special reception, online through its website at

The exhibition is being made possible by major support from Gordon Clark, the founder of Clark Foam. Surfing Heritage Foundation is located at 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, CA 92672. The website is, and the telephone number is 949-388-0313.

-Tracey Engelking -


Hobie Surf Shop - Shaping Room Conversations: Gary Larson

20. April 2012

It is 4:45 am, not even close to dawn. The air is crisp and cold dew covers every outdoor surface. Gary Larson is awake, drinking coffee… lots of cream, lots of sugar. Before the sky shows it’s first shades of purple, he is staring down at the solitary black line at the bottom of a pool. Four mornings a week, like clock work, Gary is in the water at Saddleback College. Anyone who swims knows, mentally, it is only you against yourself. The loudest roar of a crowd can’t be heard over the sound of your own strokes. The discipline and self motivation required to get into an outdoor pool that early says much about Gary’s character. It also serves a a glimpse into his heart as a shaper.

I treat shaping as a hobby not a job.

At 15, after sweeping the floors in Steve Boehne’s shaping room for a while, he crafted his first board. “The first board.. it took about 5 hours. I finished it, signed it, picked it up, put it back down and broke it in half, and put it in the dumpster. Not because I was angry… I knew I could do better; I didn’t want anyone to see it.” His dissatisfaction with his first effort, and his desire to live up to his self imposed expectations, served him well. He went on to become a full time production shaper for Infinity. 4 boards a day 9:30-6. Working alongside Larry Cobb, Ryan Engle, Steve Boehne and his son Dan Boehne. At that time, it was Steve and Dan who had the greatest influence on Gary’s work. “Seeing Dan shape, watching him make these contemporary shortboards… then being able to see Steve as an incredible longboard shaper, a throwback.. having that dichotomy, it is what makes me shape today.. it was that influence.”

There is not a board that I don’t like to make.

Working at Infinity, he would volunteer to shape anything and everything. Shortboards, longboards, prone paddleboards, balsa… whatever was on the order card, he would learn to make it. Always self motivating to do better, even though his name rarely appears in a swirling signature down the stringer. He never wanted to get bored in the shaping room. He didn’t want to be considered someone who could only make one kind of board. Where as, most of us want to find our comfort zone and stay in it, Gary is the opposite, he likes to stretch his limits. To this day his curiosity and desire is present “I love seeing other shapers boards… especially the ones my friends call magic.. how the edges are tucked under, fin placement, rocker flow… minor nuances that only someone who looks at boards everyday would see.”

The day after Clark Foam closed I went out and bought 3 big blocks of EPS foam to shape 3 prone paddleboards. I wanted to keep shaping, so I made prone to keep going.

The shaping room…

Looking into Gary’s shaping room today, you see a man peacefully going about his work. Barefooted and wearing headphones, the only noise in the room is the sound of tools on foam. Streaming into his ears isn’t what you would think… not music.. always something that catches his curiosity. A favorite is This American Life, but any debate across the spectrum; economic, scientific or political will do, but never music. As a rule, Gary’s shaping room door is closed. If he could lock it, he would. He is in his world when he shapes. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to talk to you, he will talk to you all day about subjects like clouds and the weather, and he would tell you that, yes, in fact, tides can be explained. But in the room, he likes to go about his business uninterrupted. You can’t blame him for not wanting to stop and chat throughout the day, shapers are paid by the board, not by the hour.

A lifelong love of learning lead Gary to a Masters degree. “I really loved grad school. The idea of presenting ideas and thoughts and having them so highly critiqued appealed to me. The misconception of school is ‘what did your degree get you?’ it is not about how much money my degree gets me, but am I getting everything out of it that I should. Am I interacting enough with like minded people...?”

Our conversation meanders through Gary’s life, interesting tid bits of information pop up… like his brief month long stint as a valet right after the closure of Clark Foam. A certain multi-time World Tour Champion needed his car parked, after getting it down to the garage, Gary and an unnamed friend removed all the boards from the car, laid them all out in the garage and meticulously inspected each one. Always learning, even when the surfing business was at a halt, and his future was uncertain.

We bring the conversation back to the making of a stock board. How do you start a board for a yet unnamed rider? “I start by looking at the destination.. if it is an Uncle Buck headed for Dana Point, I start thinking it is going to be surfed at SanO. Then I think of the wave and how the average surfer in the water would ride it… when I started surfing, I just wanted to surf and get waves…. when I make a stock board, I don’t think of surfers like Bucky Barry or Tyler Warren… I think about the average guy or girl in the water and make it for them.” When you think back to that first off the rack board that you loved, it was in fact designed just for you. The stock shapers already saw you riding the wave, they already knew what break you were going to surf at… they knew it was for you before you ever walked into the shop.

If I only could make one board, I would make a 3 stringer traditional longboard with 50 50 rails, no hard edge, all curves... pleasing to the eye.

Coming to work for Hobie in 2005 (the year Clark Foam closed) was a huge moment for Gary. “Just working with Terry Martin.. because I look up to him… I was so nervous to shape right next to him, literally, right next to him… I said as few words as possible to him. Part of it was being nervous, I didn’t want to come off the wrong way; more of it was, I saw him and still see him as the greatest surfboard shaper ever.” Hobie itself is overwhelming for some of us that come to work here in any capacity. Truly, when you go in for your interview, you walk by not only the iconic board from the Endless Summer, but under some of Hobie Alter’s most masterful creations. “The history of the label, you don’t want to let anyone down… you are so focused on doing the best, while you are thinking of all the names that have come before you… not many labels are like Hobie, there is a tradition of hand shaping surfboards, plenty of labels have been around forever, but there is something about it… globally; sailboats, kayaks, all of it, it humbles you.” As it should.

A surfboard is a piece of plastic. That is all it is. We provide the soul. Always have. Whether you make it or just ride it. -Sam George

“If I see a board that I shaped and it is yellow, dinged up and ridden into the ground… it makes me happy. I don’t shape things to sit, they are supposed to be in the water, it is why shapers do what they do.” Gary Larson.

-Tracey Engelking

Categories: Surfboards |

Hobie Surfboards - Terry Martin and the Perfect 40 Minute Board

10. April 2012

“My objective is to make someone happy in the water.” Terry Martin


Please visit The Terry Martin Project to learn ways you can help Terry in his fight.

-Tracey Engelking


Team Hobie Takes on The Ocean Ohana Catalina Challenge Relay

30. March 2012

This isn’t going to be a fun little sightseeing paddle across the channel looking at sea life… this is going to be a hurl-fest grind. -Sean Douglas

On Sunday April 1, 2012 The Ocean Ohana Catalina Challenge Relay will take place. A 39.8 mile race on OC1, OC2, Surfski, SUP or Paddleboard from Avalon to Dana Point. In year’s past, paddlers have been met with generally calm conditions; this year, not so much.

Not for the faint of heart

To me, weather like this calls for warm blankets, sleeping in and a lazy day inside. For Catalina competitors, these conditions are a dream come true. I talked with Challenge racer Byron Kurt, who will compete with his partner Colin McPhillips in SUP as a two man team representing Hobie, to get his thoughts on all things Catalina.


Byron Kurt Wants to Beat You. Every. Time.

What are your thoughts on the wind and swell advisory?

Byron: “I pray for conditions like this. I hope for Conditions like this. 45 knot downwinder, that is what you want out of the Catalina Challenge. Who wants to paddle 39 miles in flat water…? If you want to do that, you can do it by doing laps in the Harbor.”

What do you think your main challenge will be out there?

Byron: “The biggest challenge will be for the boat Captain’s, in these kind of conditions you are only going to be as good as your Captain. The course they lay out decides if you win or not. The second biggest will be figuring out what you are going to need to keep you hydrated, safe, and comfortable out there. It is a long day, with complicated transfers. Be prepared, it is going to come down to a tough mental game.”

Any goals for the day?

Byron: “I’ll be disappointed if they cancel the event. I feel like it could be a day for Colin and I to break the record set by Chuck Patterson and I, for two man SUP, at 6hr 32mins and 13 sec. There is the potential for this to be a very fast race with new bars set across all craft.”

No rights, Colin.. Only left's the whole way.

Byron is legit, no doubt. He has been with Hobie for 34 years as a surfer, sailor, windsurfer, and SUPer. He is also an Iron Man Triathlete and a 6 handicap golfer. Notorious for speaking his mind, he will be a force in this race. He has also test piloted every one of the designs in the Hobie SUP arsenal. I talked with head shaper, Mark Johnson, to hear his thoughts on Byron and Colin as a team.

How do you think Byron and Colin will do as a team?

MJ: “They’ll be great. Colin goes about racing in an all business like manner; head down, no complaints, incredibly focused. He is the most gracious champion (**Ed note: Colin McPhillips is a three time World Longboard Champion) in the water… he brings a lot of credibility to SUP. They both share the same drive to win. Byron wants to be the first one across the line every time. He is probably the most mentally tough racer out there.”

Can you tell me anything about the board they will be on?

MJ: “No. Not a chance. The only thing I’ll tell you is this race will put the equipment to the test, and I like that. If they keep the nose out of the water, and stay in the trough.. it will be an exciting day.”

The Board.

Final thoughts on the race go to the boss, Jeff Alter who will be Captaining the Team Hobie escort boat along with Chuck Benson.

How do you think it’s going to go?

Jeff: “I’m excited, strategy and knowledge are going to play a big roll. If it were me, I’d take a leisurely 6-7 mile paddle to the north of the island, then kick straight in through the surf, take lefts the whole way. With this wind, records could be set.”

Are you worried about the weather?

Jeff: “No. I have sturdy cup holders, so I’m not worried at all.”

-Tracey Engelking

Categories: Stand Up Paddle |

Hobie Surf Shop - Terry Martin: Life, Boards, and Everything

11. March 2012


It can take so much from a person… sometimes.

For Terry Martin, it hasn’t seemed to take a thing. The bounce in his step is there, the twinkle in his eye is there, his laugh still chimes, his heart is full of kindness, his optimism still overflows all over the place, and his smile is as bright during this fight as it has always been. But cancer has taken the one thing that has been a fixture for Terry for as long as some people can remember…

The beard.

Terry Martin and the mighty beard.

Since 1968 Mr Martin’s face has been covered in a mighty beard. I couldn’t find a photo anywhere of him without one. Truly, it seems the only thing attached to Terry for longer than the beard has been shaping. 80,000+ boards since 1963 have passed through his masterful hands. The same saw that cut his first board for Hobie back all those years ago, is still the same saw that cuts the boards today. The only change is the hands that use it have aged a bit since that first slice, they also show traces of the chemo that still hasn’t entirely left his system.

If your feet are lucky enough to stand on a Terry Martin board, it was cut with this saw.

We stand in the shaping room at the Dana Point Hobie shop looking down at what will become my new longboard, he showed me his nails.. “Would you look at that… yuck… yellow and torn up. I think they are all going to fall off.” He smiles. “I hope for your sake they do, Terry, that’s a funky look.” I said. He laughs, that classic laugh that makes you all fuzzy. He bends his hands to me and shares, “look, see how much they bend again, they were so stiff during treatment… now look at them flex.. I can shape now. I couldn’t wait to get back in here.” You can tell, he paces around the untouched blank with a jig in his step, eyes it.. flips it over, smiles and grabs the saw. Pure joy.

We start the process of making the board.. one that he could easily accomplish alone in 40 minutes. They don’t call him the Machine for nothing. Shaping with Terry is more than just making a board.. it becomes a lesson in living. Not worrying about mistakes “Don’t worry about that, there is another step that will fix that”. Each time you say oops.. he’ll tell you what is great about that oops, and how it will benefit the board in the long run. He shows me how to keep from repeating the same steps over and over. How to streamline your efforts and be able to take the board off the racks and let it go when it’s time. A metaphor for life if there ever was one.

Make a mistake, correct it in the next step... don't let it slow you down... everything is fixable.

In the midst of planers, saws, handmade sanding tools and dust, he tells me about his beginnings with Hobie. Mastering the art of shaping, going from making 2 boards in 10 hours to 10 boards in 10 hours. His desires to be able to have a full time shaping career that earned him enough of a living to support a family. Shaping 7 people deep, side by side in the factory in the early days. Honing his craft alongside Hobie Alter. We talk about the honor you feel when you work for Hobie, how it is being part of something bigger than yourself, something lasting, something true.

Nothing is as critical as you think... take too much out of one rail, just sand it out of the other rail till it matches.

The beard… “My son is 41, he has never seen me without one!” Terry himself isn’t used to it. “I had no idea I had all these lines around my mouth… I look like a shriveled up apple doll.” His laughter floats out, I ask if he is going to grow it back, “Heck yes, I have to cover up all this old stuff on here…” “You know, Terry, I’m almost 40, maybe I should start thinking of letting mine fill in.. give the waxer a break, I wouldn’t mind seeing less of my smile lines.. the world could always use another bearded lady!” Somehow, in the midst of illness, he is more worried about your tears.. more worried about your heart breaking. He keeps you laughing. He is a man of deep faith… his positive attitude and assurances that he knows exactly where he is going (to Heaven,) if this battle doesn’t go his way, smooth everything out.

Even when you get to something technical, like marking out the fins... don't stress, use the tool as a guide, place your marks, and if you mess up the sides, don't freak out... you can always ride it as a single fin.

We take two sessions to finish the board. Number 80,001 and counting. When it comes time to sign the board, my name goes right next to Terry’s. I’ll ride the board till it is either more ding repair kit than board, or even better, till it disintegrates under my feet. The last step, before it comes off the racks and it gets let go into the hands of the glasser, is a quote by Mickey Munoz down the stringer: “Surfing wasn’t the ride; it was the process of getting to the ride”. Terry looked down at it with the trade mark twinkle in his eyes… “Yeah, that’s really it, isn’t it? That’s all you need to know.”

Number 80,001 and counting...

-Tracey Engelking

Please respect Terry’s privacy during this time. For more information on Terry Martin, upcoming auctions and ways you can help in his fight: Please visit

*All photos by Tracey Engelking

Categories: Surfboards | History |

The Peruvian Froth Chronicles by Justin Holland

29. February 2012

Australian Team Rider Justin "The Frotha" Holland gives his recap of the ISA World Stand Up Paddle Paddle and Paddleboard Championship in Peru

As Justin would say ... GET OUT THERE!!!

Categories: Stand Up Paddle |

The Hobie Team Lima Chronicles according to Brandi Baksic - Part 1

22. February 2012

Hola from Peru.
Well, I have been nominated by the other three to give those at home a little Peru ISA world championships update, so here goes.
So we got onto town after a very long day of travel about 2 a.m. Sunday morning. We woke up to bright sunshine in our eyes at about 6 a.m., and headed to the event registration downtown Miraflores.


After registration the event officially opened with the parade of nations, 17 different countries walking around the town with their country's flag. The opening ceremonies ended with the “Sands of the World”, where each representing country pours into a large bowl a cup of sand that was brought from their home country. Colin and I were introduced on stage, and we poured San Clemente beach sand and combined it with the other countries, kinda cool.   


After the opening ceremonies, we all headed to Pampilla Beach for an afternoon of some fun day SUP surfing and sizing up the competition. Day 2, Monday, was basically a free day of surfing, except I had to go to a press conference with a bunch of Peruvian leaders, politicians and Jamie Mitchell. I was a bit awkward, but cool.  I think I impressed them with all my answers in Spanish, or they think I am a complete dufus.
Today, the good stuff began. Colin was the first to surf, in a heat that could have been a final with Jackson Close from Australia, and Fernando Stella from Mexico.  Colin was the first to catch a wave, and fell early, but from then on out he had awesome wave selection and long rights, with lots and lots of maneuvers and eventually we on to win! This would be the theme for the day, as Sean Pointer would also fall on his first wave but finish first in his heat, defeating Australian Hobie team member Justin Holland on his last wave and coming out first. Emmy Merrill would continue team USA 's winning streak with a first place finish over Australian Hobie team rider Shakira Westdorp. Emmy surfed Awesome!!! She scored an 8.5 on her second to last wave, leaving the competition in the dust! Tomorrow, more surfing and Gillian competes in the short course prone race.
Go USA! Oh, ya, and we finally got our race boards out of customs today, Yay!


Categories: Stand Up Paddle |

Hobie Team set to hit ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships

17. February 2012

Hobie Stand up Paddleboards is getting ready to make its presence felt at the inaugural ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships taking place February 19 to 25 in Miraflores, Peru. Over 140 athletes from 17 countries will make the trip to Peru to compete on SUPs and paddleboards. The event will stretch six days and include SUP surfing and racing, and paddleboard races, which will include sprint courses and marathon distances. Each country’s team is made up of 9 paddlers covering both racing and surfing disciplines
Hobie paddlers joining Team USA, Jay Wild (Men’s Elite and Distance races), Colin McPhillips (SUP Surf), Brandi Baksic (Women’s Elite and Distance races), and Emmy Merrill (SUP Surf)
Hobie paddlers joining Team Australia, Justin Holland (SUP Surf), Shakira Westdorp (SUP Surf)
“I am excited and honored to have been selected to represent Team USA, I have participated in the ISA Surfing Games in the past,  and I am excited to once again be a part of the team, especially with the addition of SUP to the mix ” said 3x Longboard World Champion Colin McPhillips. “I am honored for being selected to Team USA and I look forward to competing in an international arena. I think coming from Lake Tahoe really shows the diversity and what is possible within the stand up paddle community” added Jay Wild
Divisions include SUP Surfing, a 4.5 kilometers SUP technical race, 18 kilometers SUP marathon, and a 5.75 kilometers Prone Paddleboard race. The SUP technical race will follow the popular Battle of the Paddle format, which involves several laps of a course paddling in and back out through the surf.
The event begins on Sunday, February 19 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, the Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony.   The ISA World Stand Up Paddle Championships
Categories: Stand Up Paddle |

New Hobie Sand Bar Opens at John Wayne Airport

27. January 2012


 San Juan Capistrano, CA (Jan 26, 2012) - Hobie Designs is proud to announce the grand opening of the Hobie Sand Bar Restaurant inside John Wayne Airport’s new South terminal wing.

Sporting an unofficial motto of “A nice place to run aground”, The Hobie Sand Bar’s menu and ambiance represents a beach lifestyle that Hobie Alter created over 60 years ago as a youth growing up in Laguna Beach. The restaurant features a full menu of coastal inspired fare that will transport the weary traveler out of the terminal and onto the beach.

Besides the amazing dining experience, every part of the Sand Bar transports the diner through a visual experience of Hobie Alter’s life, from authentic pictures and memorabilia to the furnishings, each piece representing decades of innovation that created the “Have a Hobie Day” lifestyle that has been experienced worldwide.

The creation of the Hobie Sand Bar has been a tight knit collaboration between the restaurants operator, HMS Host, and the entire Hobie family who have been instrumental in creating the authentic Hobie Sand Bar vibe. Hobie’s sons Hobie jr. and Jeff working with Mark Christy (Jeff’s brother in law) in developing the initial concept and Laurie Alter (Jeff’s wife and owner of Tuvalu Home in Laguna Beach) as head designer for the project, were all instrumental in the final project. Hobie Sr. is very proud of this project and the reflection it presents of his life and heritage.