The Coolest Cat
Part one of our long-awaited Innerview with Hobie Cat’s founder Hobie Alter
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SA: First off, we really want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. We know you haven’t weighed in much on sailing in recent years, so this is a pretty big deal to a lot of our readers.
HA: Well it’s good to keep in touch a little bit. (laughs)
SA: You’re 75 now, is that right?
HA: I am 75, yeah – it happens fast, believe me!
SA: And you live pretty far from the sea?
HA: We were in Idaho for a while and then we switched to living in Palm Desert for the winter time on a golf course. But our main residence is in the Seattle area.
SA: What inspired us to get in touch with you was really the high gas prices a few months back combined with a nasty recession. The one guy in the history of sailing who was able to do something with a situation like the one we have now was you. You revolutionized sailing and created an entirely new movement – all at one of the toughest times in our nation’s economic history.. So how did you capitalize on the economy in the seventies and keep Hobie growing, and to keep the Hobie Cat scene so strong?
HA: The recession and gas crisis was really a blessing in disguise. We were starting to do so well at that time, we couldn’t produce enough boats – so when things got tighter, it let us keep running well, delivering on time, filling all our orders. You don’t want to get into a business and fall way behind and have everybody demanding your product when you can’t deliver it – because someone will come in and deliver it for you.