Surfing and sailing pioneer Hobart Alter dead at 80

Surfing and sailing pioneer Hobart Alter dead at 80
By 2011, when Alter was inducted in the National Sailing Hall of Fame, there were 14 Hobie Cat models and more than 100,000 on the water.

LOS ANGELES - Hobart "Hobie" Alter, who revolutionized surfing and sailing with the first polyurethane surf boards and the small catamaran known as the Hobie Cat, died over the weekend at his home in California at age 80, his family said.

Alter, who started off making surf boards and ended up fashioning an entire culture, died peacefully at his home in Palm Desert on Saturday. He was surrounded by family, according to his web site,

The cause of death was not given but the Los Angeles Times said it was cancer.

A surfing buff from his early years, Alter started designing boards in the 1950s. At the time the material used was balsawood.

Along with his friend Gordon Clark, he invented the first boards made of polyurethane foam. They were lighter and easier to handle and became an immediate hit.

His shop Hobie in Dana Point south of Los Angeles became a hub for surfing culture in southern California.

He did not stop there, going on to design small leisure catamarans called the Hobie Cat.

Unveiled in 1967, the Hobie Cat 14 soon became the standard because it was so light and easy to manoeuvre.

The Hobie Cat 16 would come a few years late and still made these days.

"He introduced the world to an outdoor lifestyle and collection of products that made things just a bit more fun for all of us," the statement on the web site said.

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