On surfboards and paddle boards, power boats and a Hobie Cat, at least 3,000 people took to the water of Doheny State Beach this past Friday. The paddle out tribute to Hobie Alter included surf industry luminaries, family and hundreds of admirers. Another 1,000 watched from shore.
Geysers of water spouted as Alter’s wish was fulfilled: a traditional Hawaiian send-off. It included the singing of Aloha ‘Oe and the tossing of water, salt and dirt from Oahu into the waters near his home base in Laguna Beach. It was there in the ‘50s, Alter reinvented surfing, shaping light fiberglass boards that made the sport far more accessible. He would go on to reinvent sailing as well with his Hobie Catamaran.
In a mix-up during the paddle out, no board was left for Alter’s daughter Paula. She was left stranded on the sand and listened to the amplified ceremony from the shore. Lifeguards saved the day, ferrying Paula Alter out for the rest of the ceremony on a rescue sled.