Hobart 'Hobie' Alter Introduced Surfing To The Masses

Hobie Alter, who was considered the Henry Ford of surfboards, has died at age 80. He used foam to make surfboards that traditionally had been created from balsa wood.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And our last word in business today is: Foam and Fiberglass.

We say this in honor of Hobie Alter, who has died at the age of 80. Mr. Alter is considered the Henry Ford of surfboards.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Before Alter came along, many surfboards were made of balsa wood and then Alter started using foam as part of the construction. Just as Ford's Model T brought the automobile to the masses, Alter's cheaper and more flexible surfboards allowed entirely new classes of people to wipe out.

GREENE: He is also credited with bringing high-performance sailing to the masses with a popular fiberglass sailboat called the Hobie Cat.

INSKEEP: That's why it's called that.

GREENE: It is, indeed.

INSKEEP: Hobie Alter.

GREENE: Hobie Alter. That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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