Hobie Alter, who shaped Southern California's signature surf culture by pioneering the mass-produced foam surfboard and later popularized sailing by inventing a lightweight, high-performance catamaran, died Saturday at his home in Palm Desert. He was 80.
The announcement of Alter's death was posted on www.hobie.com, his company's website. No cause was disclosed.
A self-taught design innovator and entrepreneur whose "Hobie" brand earned him a fortune, Alter was nonetheless a reluctant businessman who eschewed suits for cutoffs and was guided by his imagination above all else.
"I'm making money producing things that give me pleasure, doing exactly what I want to do," Alter told a reporter in 1977. "I guess I'm really lucky that way."
A full Times obituary appears here.