Hobie History: Innovations of Hobie at Surfing Heritage Foundation

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 -