Hobie Alter, also known as the Henry Ford of the surfboard industry, died on March 29 at his home in Palm Desert, California at the age of 80. A surfer himself, he started out crafting handmade 9-foot balsa wood surfboards for his friends in the garage of his family's summer home in Laguna Beach, in the 1950s. In 1954, he opened the area's first surf shop in Dana Point and pioneered the development of polyurethane foam surfboards. He then turned to his other favorite water sport, founding the Coast Catamaran Corp. and in 1968 produced the Hobie Cat, an affordable 14-foot fiberglass catamaran that could be carried by one person, towed behind a car and launched off any beach. 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. His sons, Hobe and Jeff, still run the multimillion-dollar sports empire he created.

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