From the Editor: An Ode to Hobie Alter - Sail Magazine

From the Editor: An Ode to Hobie Alter

Hobie was one of those true pioneers who brought sailing to the masses. Rest easy, dude.
Author:
Publish date:
 Hobie Alter: 1934-2014

Hobie Alter: 1934-2014

Like so many others, my introduction to sailing on two hulls came courtesy of Hobie Alter. One sweltering January afternoon in Perth, Western Australia, back in 1978 or so, a bunch of us rode our motorcycles down to the Swan River to go sailing.

The thought of sailing wasn’t actually something that had ever occurred to many of us, surfers and bikers that we were, but we’d heard about these cool things called Hobie Cats that you could just get on and ride without needing to know how to sail, and it seemed like a fun way to spend an afternoon.

We were already dressed for a day on the water—shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops being standard biker gear in the Australian summer—so when we saw the row of brightly-colored sails atop banana-shaped hulls, we were on the water as soon as we’d paid the rental fees and been given a quickfire Aussie-style briefing—“This rope controls the sail. Pull her in to go faster, ease her out to slow down. If ya go over, that doughnut on the end of the mast will stop it from digging inter the mud. Two of ya get on the bottom hull, grab that there rope and lean back till she comes upright, and mind yer heads cos she’ll come down quick. To turn around, put yer sterns through the wind, OK? And don’t break me boats!”

Two or three of us to a boat, we scooted off in a gusty breeze and spent the next two hours either capsizing or swimming around post-capsize, our idea of good technique being to try to spend as much time on one hull as possible. We non-sailors learned little about the finer points of beachcat sailing and plenty about the points of no return, but eventually, sunburnt and sore from laughing and coughing up water, we managed to steer our little cats back to more or less the same point from which we’d departed. Cold beer never tasted so good.

Therein lay the genius of Hobie’s idea for a surfer’s plaything. Fast, stable, easy to sail and above all fun, the Hobie Cat was the ultimate sailing toy for non-sailors. It was the first taste of sailing for tens of thousands of people, many of whom—even bikers—came back for more. Hobie was one of those true pioneers who brought sailing to the masses.

Rest easy, dude.

Related

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more