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"Hobie" Alter : The Ocean as Playground.
The presentation examines the pre-eminent role of Hobie Alter, and company, in the worldwide growth of recreational water sports in the 20th century, and firmly intergrating the Polynesian concept of the ocean as a playground, into modern Western culture.
While the story is complex and has many contributors; Hobie played a major role in successfully modernising the ancient
Polynesian surfboard, outrigger canoe, and double-hulled sailing canoe, or "catamaran."
These watercraft are clearly represented in John Webber's
A View of KaraKakooa, in Owyhee, 1778, illustrating a surfboard rider, outrigger canoes (Hobie Kayaks), and the double-hulled sailing canoe (Hobie Cats).


As noted, the story is complex, and although the cast is numerous, some of the more prominent include Natt Herreshoff, Harry McLaren, Woody Brown, Joe Quigg, Kathy Kohner, Grubby Clarke, Phil Edwards, Merv Larson, Jim Drake, and Robbie Nash.




The surfboard is a direct descendant from man's first open-ocean watercraft, the wooden swimming float (Hornell, 1946), which was, as the name implies, instrumental in the development of the art of swimming, an essential, though often overlooked, component of surfriding, and water sports generally
Its role as a mode of transport, as a paddleboard, was still common
in Hawai'i, illustrated here by Webber, and as first reported by members of Cook's expedition.

While surfriding, on boards, in canoes , and/or as bodysurfing, was practised
throughout Polynesia, it was most developed in Hawai'i; the largest tropical landmass with the richest natural resources, the largest population, and the best surfing conditions.
Whereas, in fact, most ancient surfers probably rode prone, in Hawai'i, riding while standing on their larger alaia surfboards was marked as the highest degree of skill, which became the modern norm.
Crucially, when standing, the rider adopts an off-set stance, with a leading and a trailing foot (usually identified as natural or goofy), and characteristic of all subsequent board sports- skateboard, sandboard, snowboard, sailboard, wakeboard, kiteboard, not to mention, the (expletive deleted), stand-up-paddle board.
The Hawai'ian alaia surfboard,
hand-carved from a single timber billet, was essentially replicated well into the 1940s.
In 2013, the numerous descendents of the alaia are almost too tedious to mention, see above, but also note the surfoplane, the coolite, the surfmat, the boggie board, the surf-ski, the wave-ski, and the rescue paddleboard.

Born in California in 1933, Hobart "Hobie" Alter began surfing in the late 1940s at Laguna Beach, riding the recently introduced Malibu board, largely the work of master-shaper, Joe Quigg.
Quigg's
prototype was the Darrylin board, originally constructed in 1947 for the teenage daughter of Hollywood mogul Darryl Zanuck, it was ridden and praised by the Malibu elite.
A shorter, thin balsa wood blank, laminated with fibreglass and with a large short-base fin,
this lightweight board revolutionised surfriding; for the experienced rider it vastly extended the range of suitable surf conditions, offered a dramatic increase in performance, and opened boardriding to a wider population, or, as some would say, "market."

As surfboard builders had exploited the introduction of marine glues following WWI, laminated fibreglass, developed in WWII, was initially used to attach fins and strengthen the nose, before the practice of fully enclosing the blank was adopted.
Although the concept was "space-age," the timber blank was still hand-shaped along the grain, the standard method since pre-history.


Initially building boards in the family garage from 1950 to 1953, the next year Alter opened Hobie Surfboards at (Richard) Dana Point; named after the author of the 1840 classic American narrative Two Years Before the Mast.


Whatever Hobie's excellent skills in marketing surfing, they could not compare to the global impact of another teenage female surfer from Malibu, Kathy Kohner.
Appearing as Gidget in her her father's novel of the same name, it sold over 500,000 copies in 1957, and filmed in 1959.
The "surf craze" was further extended by the popularity of surf music, most notably the work of The Beach Boys, under the leadership of Brian Wilson.

As Hobie's business expanded, he and board glasser, Gordon "Grubby" Clark, researched and developed a polyurethane foam blank as a commercially viable alternative to balsa, and in 1958 foam replaced balsa on all Hobie surfboards, a move quickly followed by most manufacturers.
If the use of laminated fibreglass was said to be "space-age," foam certainly was.
Foam blanks could be blown to any size required, and, although most foam blanks have a central timber stringer, its relative softness and the lack of a grain substantially reduced labour.
But most significant advantage was a considerable reduction in surfboard weight.

California's prime large-wave break during the summer, Dana Point  would later house, along with Hobie Surfboards, the offices of John Severson's, Surfer magazine (1960- ) and Bruce Brown, the producer of the surfing's most successful film, The Endless Summer (1964-1966).
It must be noted that all three surfers were highly proficient, indicated by both their documented performance and their ongoing commitment to advancing the art to its highest level.
Dana Point's hottest surfer, however, was Hobie's first appentice, Phil Edwards, who by 1964 was recognised, certainly by Severson, Brown, and Hobie (
dubbed the Dana Point Mafia, probably by Malibu’s Micki Dora),
as the world's best.
 
Throughout the 1960s, Hobie
lead the industry producing up to 6,500 boards annually, and the Hobie team featured the cream of surfing's elite.
As well as Edwards, the roster included multi-World champion Joyce Hoffman, US champion Corky Carroll, East Coast champion Garry Propper, Makaha and Duke champion Joey Cabell, renowned shaper of big-wave "guns," Dick Brewer, and Mickey Munoz, one of the first to ride Waimea Bay in 1957 and who surfed as Gidget in the 1959 film.


Hobie's activities were not restricted to the surfboard factory.
W
ith partner Laurie Hoover, he won several tandem titles surfing up to 1963, to promote the sport, in 1965 he wake-surfed 30 miles from Long Beach to Catalina Island, and served on the board of the United States Surfing Association.
However, the most significant was probably the launch of Hobie Skateboards in 1964.







Across ancient Oceania, the dugout outrigger canoe was the standard vessel, primarily used for fishing, and its use continues today.
In the late 1890s surfing in canoes became a popular tourist attraction at Waikiki w
ith the formation in 1897 of the Hui Pakaka Nalu by native canoe owners, under the management of W. W. Dimond
The Hui Pukaka Nalu advertised their services for $1.00 an hour in the local press and was a significant presence on the beach, with up to eight canoes regularly in action.
In this era, the outriggers were also paddled and sailed competitively at the Waikiki Regattas.
In 1905 the
outrigger canoe was integrated into the seal of the County of Ohau, and action photographs appeared regulary in the press in the following years.
 
Its status was firmly entrenched at Waikiki with the formation of the famous Outrigger Canoe Club in 1908, under the leadership of Alexander Huime Ford.
Possibly influenced by Sydney's fledging surf lifesaving clubs on his visit there in 1907-1908, he crucially, secured a long-term lease on prime beachfront property, occupied until 1963, when the club relocated to their present site.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, recreational canoes have been produced in a vast range of designs, although the Canadian canoe and the Kayak could be said to predominate.
Initially constructed with marine plywood, they were later built of fibreglass, rotomoulded plastic, and, in Olympic class canoes, carbon fibre.
In 2008, the Hobie company, now run by his children, revolutionised recreational canoeing with the introduction of a range of rotomoulded "Kayaks" and "Boats" featuring the remarkable Mirage (Penguin) Drive.
As expected of the company, all the designs and components were robust, user-friendly, and highly efficient.
The top-of -the-line Mirage Adventure Tandem Island is a formidable craft, with twin outriggers, adjustable trampolines, adjustable daggerboard, dual penguin drive, and a self-furling sail







The Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoe served as a royal barge, a ship of war, and as transportation on their major voyages of discovery and settlement.
With Western contact, its use was virtually discontinued as the chiefs adopted European vessels, braced with iron, as only these withstood the stresses of canon fire.

The double-hulled sailing canoe reappeared in Waikiki Bay in 1947, when Woody Brown launched
the Manu Kai (Sea Bird) , the first modern, ocean-going catamaran.

A pioneer glider pilot, Woody Brown began surfing in California in the 1930s, and built his first hollow plywood surfboard with small keel, or skeg, in 1936, similar to Tom Blake's renowned design.
He moved to Hawaii in 1940, and became one of Hawaii's first big wave surfers and board designers, noteably in the development of the fin-less Hot Curl, incorporating a deep V-bottomed tail that significantly improved the control.

In 1953 Thomas Tsuzuki photographed Brown, George Downing and Buzzy Trent riding large Makaha.
Extensively reprinted in the press, it initiated the ongoing challenge to ride the biggest (documented) wave.
Note, however, that on first impression the image is misleading, and if it is correctly aligned with the horizon, is somewhat less dramatic.

After the war, Woody travelled to Christmas Island, where he was impressed the speed of the local natives' twin-hulled outrigger canoes, and returning to Ohau, with Alfred Kumalae and assisted by Rudy Choy, designed and built the Manu Kai (Sea Bird) in 1947, the first modern, ocean-going catamaran.
With lightweight asymmetric hulls, it was easily launched from the Waikiki beachfront, and carrying huge sails, it was capable of carrying a large number of paying customers at speed.
At this time it was probably the fastest sailing boat in the world.
At Waikiki, several similar boats constructed for the tourist trade, and many of the Manu Kai's "passengers," were enthusiastic about the possibilities of the design.

Its impact was significant, and designers began experimenting with the twin-hull design around the world.

In 1953, England's the Prout Brothers designed and built in their Shearwater catamarans, that had competitive success into the 1960s, and designed and built the first sailing catamaran to circumnavigate the globe in 1964.
In 1955, James Wharram after long studies into the records of boats of the Pacific, designed and built simple and inexpensive ocean-going catamarans, in which he crossed the Atlantic, effectively introducing catamaran cruising to Europe.

After returning from war service on Maui, Warren Seaman, built the first, of what were to be later known as, Malibu Outriggers.
Mostly owner-built, with an 18 feet long plywood hull and 190 square feet of sail, they were the core fleet of the beach-front Malibu Yacht Club, begun in 1948.
The design was featured in a Popular Mechanics magazine article of 1958 and over 2000 were built by the mid-1960s,
with the Malibu Club publishing Techniques of Sailing and Racing the Malibu Outrigger, in March 1968, with particular emphasis on negotiating the surf.
Malibu outrigger sailors included Hobie Alter, Phil Edwards, San Diego surfboard shaper Mike Eaton, and Steve Dashew, designer of “D” class catamaran Beowulf, and recently the Deerfoot 60’s.

By the late 1960’s there were a number of catamarans in competition around the world, the British Wildcat, Carter Pyle’s P-Cat in California, and the Australian Quick Cat, sailed in the waves by the Kirra Catamaran club.

Hobie's experience and knowledge, and enthusiasm was further enhanced with the performance of Phil Edward's El Gatto, a high performance 20 ft catamaran built of laminated plywood at Joe Quigg's surfboard factory in Newport in 1961.

After extensive design and testing, the Hobie Cat was launched in 1967.
An easy-to-use 14-foot catamaran designed to ride in the surf, substantially extending the surfing experience in what are normally adverse on-shore winds.
While all the fittings were incredibly robust, as befitting its intended surf use, the fibreglass hulls were vastly superior to the previous plywood construction.
Once more, this was state-of the-art technology; the first fibreglass and polyester sailing dingy, possibly a Snipe, was probably built Ray Greene of Ohio in 1942, and the first commercially successful fibreglass yachts, such as Everett Pearson’s  28ft. Triton designed by Carl Alberg, appeared in 1958.

The 14s success was immediate, a Life magazine photo feature, The Cat That Flies, was published in 1968, and sales were healthy.
While initially designed as a surfriding craft, it was 1969s more competitive Hobie 16, released in 1969, that proved to be an outstanding success with more than 110,000 manufactured worldwide.
The Hobie Cat's surfing credentials were demonstrated by Edwards and Munoz at Sunset Beach, Ohau in 1974.
Alter sold Hobie Cat to the Coleman outdoor supply company in 1976, but continued to design and commercially build catamarans and boats.

While the success of the Hobie 16 cemented the role of double-hull craft in high-performance sailing, its genesis, as a surfriding craft for the on-shore afternoons, was largely by-passed.
Firstly, it still carried a large number of components comprising the rig and steering, all of which were subject to damage or loss in a serious wipe-out, and effective wave riding, except for the very skilled, required a crew of two.

Like the Hobie Cat, there were precedents, such as Tom Blake's Sailing Surfboard in 1935 and S. Newman Darby's Sailboard in 1965, however in 1968 Californian surfers Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer's Windsurfer revolutionised sailing as an individual's sport.
The first board was a
modified tandem surfboard built by Con Surfboards, with a retractable dagger-board and a fin, and the triangular sail was set inside a wish-bone boom, with a fibreglass mast attached to a universal joint in the deck.  
Following Hobie's success with the Hobie cat, the company attempted to standardize the design and rigorously enforce their patent, however, they had created a monster whose potential vastly exceeded their modest objectives.
At first, little interest was shown in the USA, but the design proved popular in Europe, essentially as an alternative to small sailing boats.
Meanwhile in Hawai'i, a small committed group radically pushed the design to it's limits in the surf-zone, quickly replacing the stock moulded Windsurfer hulls with custom boards
built in foam and fibreglass, eliminating the centreboard, and introducing the rubber universal, the harness, and foot-straps.
The early years of the sport were dominated by one Robby Naish of Kailua, Ohau, the son of ex-Californian
surfer-shaper Rick.
A photograph of Rick Naish, riding Waimea Bay, appeared in the first issue of Severson's Surfer magazine (1960), and in Hawai'i he won repeated State Hobie Cat Championships and the National championship in 1972.
Robbie raced a Hobie 12 and won his
first Windsurfing World title, at the age of 13, in 1976.

The windsurfer-sailboard made relatively in-expensive recreational sailing available to a huge public, and from 1986 to 2008 it held several world sailing speed records.
In the surf, it opened a whole new perspective on performance, particularly in riding large off-shore waves that precipitated the development of tow-in surfing.
Naish was at the forefront of windsurfing performance for the next fifteen years, his company continuing to manufacture state-of-the-art equipment and one of the pioneers of kite-boarding and the stand up paddleboard (SUP).


It is unnecessary to relate the development of engine-powered catamarans, vessels of this description to be seen in every harbour of the world, other to note that this started reasonably early.
See:
Queensland State Library.
File:StateLibQld 1 251308 Two young men having fun with their home-made watercraft on the Brisbane River.jpg

While the Hobie Cat derived from the Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoe, as modernized by Woody Brown in 1947, it is not true that the design was completely ignored by the sailing establishment before this.
Famed blind naval architect, Nathanael G. Herreshoff patented and built the 24 foot catamaran Amaryllis in 1876, sailing it 200 miles from Bristol to New York in 14 hours and winning outright that year's New York Yacht Club's Centennial Regatta.
Protests and outrage led to disqualification and, according to the Rhode Island's Herresford Marine Museum Newsletter in 1980, "the barring of catamar­ans from all conventional yacht races ever since that time!"
Herreshoff would later build five conventional yachts that successfully defended the America's cup from 1893 to 1920.
Following extraordinary complex legal disputes, the1988 America's Cup was contested between the USA's Stars and Stripes catamaran and New Zealand's gigantic monohull KZ-1, and the influence of the Hobie Cat was evident.
In 2013 the Cup was won by Oracle Team USA, an AC72 class wing-sail catamaran employing hydrofoil dagger-boards, and skippered by Sydney's James Spithill.

Epilogue
In the introduction, the Polynesian craft were detailed as surfboard, outrigger canoe, and double-hulled sailing canoe, or "catamaran."
For James Hornell this was a confusing misunderstanding, catamaran was
anglicized form of kaIfu-mar-am, meaning "tied logs", used to describe an ancient form of raft found on the Tamil coast of South India, and he was already aware of a variation in meaning, noting:
"A common and deplorable error is to apply this term to an outrigger canoe, a misnomer that causes endless confusion."

Since then catamaran has had a further adjustment in meaning, and now commonly means "any craft with twin parallel hulls."
Incidentally, this illustration by Charles Gold, dated 1800, clearly shows a catamaran rider surfriding.
It is currently the earliest known image of wave riding, similar images from Hawai'i were not published until the 1830s.


Thank you, and I will now take any questions while the adjudicators compile their scores.

Also see Source Documents:
1963 Bruce Brown : Phil Edwards at Pipeline, 1961.
Sequence from Surfing Hollow Days, Surfer Bi-Monthly Magazine, December-January, 1963 page 41.

1964 Phil Edwards : Contests - What is Good?
Surfer Bi-Monthly Magazine, February - March 1964 pages 30 to 31.

1965 Phil Edwards' Hobie Noserider.
Plans from Edwards, Phil with Ottum, Bob : You Should Have Been Here An Hour Ago, Chapter 11 : The Great Nose-Rider Caper.

Bob Cooper : Magic.
Subjectivity in surfboard design, with particular reference to Phil Edwards' balsa board, Baby.
Surfing World  Magazine Volume 14 Number 4, circa August 1970 ???. Pages 14 to 17.

Phil Edwards and Baby, Makaha, 1959.

Bob Cooper: Magic

Surfing World
Volume 14 Number 4,
circa August 1970 pages 14 to 17.

Phil Edwards and Baby, 1959.

Bob Cooper: Magic

Surfing World
Volume 14 Number 4,
circa August 1970 pages 14 to 17.

Phil Edwards, Cottons Point, 1960.
 
Stern and Cleary:
Surfing Guide (1963) page 166.
Photograph: Bruce Brown

 

Phil Edwards, Pipeline, 1961.
 
See Source Documents:
1963 Bruce Brown : Phil Edwards at Pipeline, 1961.

Phil Edwards, Pipeline, c1964.
 
Surfer Magazine
Volume 25 Number 1 page 30.

Phil Edwards: Cover and winner of first Surfer Poll.

Surfer Magazine
Volume 5 Number 2 July 1964.


Edwards, Phil with Ottum, Bob :
1967 You Should Have Been Here An Hour Ago - 
The Stoked Side of Surfing or How To Hang Ten Through Life and Stay Happy
Harper and Rowe 49 East  33rd Street New York, NY 10016
Hard cover, 179 pages, 71 black and white photograghs, 2 black and white illustrations
Review
In many aspects, an unique surfing book.
Excerpt : 
Plans and Specifications : 1965 Phil Ewards' Hobie Nose-Rider



http://setsail.com/catamaran-history-the-early-days/
http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/03/r/designs/malibu/outrigger.htm
http://www.goodoldboat.com/reader_services/articles/birthoffiberglass.php
Dan Spurr, editor of Practical Sailor,
http://www.mit.edu/people/robot/malibu/
http://www.alberg.ca/about_history.shtml
http://www.tacking-outrigger.com/malibu_outrigger.html
http://www.bluebananastudios.com/johnny-charlton
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_251308_Two_young_men_having_fun_with_their_home-made_watercraft_on_the_Brisbane_River.jpg

Carlton J. Pinheriro: Herresford catamarans - Amaryllis.
Herresford Marine Museum Magazine
Bristol, Rhode Island, Volume 1 Number 3, Spring 1980, viewed 12 January 2014.
http://www.herreshoff.org/news/publications_archives_10_1_8.pdf

http://www.runningtideyachts.com/multihull/Amaryllis.html
http://oracle-team-usa.americascup.com/

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