Hobie Alter, who shaped Southern California surf culture, dies at 80

LOS ANGELES - When he was a young man, Hobie Alter had a clear vision of his future: He didn't want a job that would require hard-soled shoes, and he didn't want to work east of Pacific Coast Highway.

He succeeded.

The son of a second-generation orange grower, Alter is credited with innovations that allowed people who couldn't lift log slabs to surf and those who couldn't pay for yacht club memberships to sail.

Known practically everywhere with a coastline or a lake simply as "Hobie," Alter developed the mass-produced foam surfboard. He later popularized sailing by inventing a lightweight, high-performance catamaran.

He died Saturday at his home in Palm Desert, Calif., according to an announcement posted on www.hobie.com, his company's website. He was 80. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Alter was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago and since then had experienced serious health problems, said Paul Holmes, author of "Hobie: Master of Water, Wind and Waves," a 2013 biography.

A