Hobie Surf :: Gary Propper Celebrates 50 Years with Hobie!!!


A Propper 50 Years! 

Before Cocoa Beach Florida’s most famous surfing native son, Kelly Slater, was a twinkle in his parent’s eyes, there was another famous transplanted native son… though a much more vocal one; Mr. Gary Propper. For 50 years now this uninhibited, wildly talented, wildly brilliant, forward thinking “hotdog ambassador to the world” has called the Big H of Hobie home.


Mr. Gary Propper

Born in the late 40’s in the not so surf capitol of the world, The Bronx, NY, it took a few logistical moves before Gary Propper would find his first surfboard under him. At the age of 13, after a family relocation to the beach breaks of Florida, Propper was introduced to his first and maybe most enduring passion, surfing. For a kid with an undeniable overload of energy and natural athletic abilities, he took to the waves like a fish takes to the water. The match was one for the ages.

By the early 60’s, Gary left the dumpy and choppy waves of Cocoa Beach for the glassy surf of Southern California. He was 17 at the time, he was looking to make his mark on surfing and, more than anything, he was looking to become famous.

He had built a following on the East Coast as much for his early success in contests as for his legendary volatile temper. His West Coast counterparts were known globally for their laid back attitude in and out of the water, so, let’s just say that Gary stood out on the sunny shores of Southern California for more than just his surfing skills. Florida surfboard builder, Dick Catri recalls, “I saw him throw a trophy into the bushes because it was for second place. Another time he, again when he got second, he just turned around right there at the presentation ceremony and gave it to some girl he’d never met.”


All style. All the time. Gary Propper somewhere in tune with the ocean. 

By 1964 he had improved greatly as an already great surfer. He came back to the East Coast and won the juniors division of The East Coast Surfing Championships. He had found his fame, and now he had a title to show it wasn’t unjustified. In this same year Gary invented a new title for himself “Professional Surfer-Athlete”. He even put it on his tax returns for that year, which I guess is how you make something unofficially official. Again, Propper was nothing short of forward thinking.

Around this same time, Hobie Alter was starting to make a plan to expand his growing surfboard sales eastward. Who better to help in that expansion than a surfer who had made himself a household name within a few years of catching his first wave? Yes, Hobie saw exactly what he needed in the brash, confident Propper. Somehow the two polar opposites created a perfect partnership.


Corky, Phil, and Gary approving the latest addition to the Hobie Surfboards lineup. 

“He was an aggressive surfer and still just a young kid, but he was good and rising to popularity really fast. We had Corky Carroll and Phil Edwards models and we wanted something for the east coast, and he was the first east coast surfer to really get noticed,” Hobie said. He was immediately put on Team Hobie and has been with us ever since.


Mickey Munoz and Gary working on one together. 

Hobie involved Propper in every aspect of his signature board, not just design but advertising and promotion. “[Gary] and I got along great. He was always loyal and hard working,” Hobie said. Along with the Corky Carroll signature model, the 1966 Gary Propper was among the first surfboards to feature Hobie’s molded, removable polypropylene fin, and the finbox that secures it into place with a brass screw.*

When the board debuted in 1966, it went on to become the world’s best-selling signature model. Let’s say that again, shall we? It became THE WORLD’S BEST-SELLING SIGNATURE MODEL. With almost all of those massive sales numbers going to homes between Florida and Maine it is wild to think that in 1967, a year after it hit the water for the first time, the model accounted for 50 percent of the 6,000 boards Hobie Surfboards made that year! It was a huge success then and continues to be one today with sales still strong for the “sloppy surf wonder board!”


As good in the waves back then as it is today! 

Propper competed in the Surfing World Championships in 1966, ’68 and ’70. In the early ‘70s when it was time for him to expand on his fame out of the water, he turned to the world of entertainment. Finding himself under the mentorship of the legendary Bill Graham, he became a music promoter who booked acts such as The Police, Blondie, and Devo. Later, he managed comics like Gallagher and Carrot Top. But, his greatest instance of forward thinking, was to secure the film rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book characters. Yeah, back in the 90’s, he saw the franchise as something that would endure.

Much like his surfboard model, his fame, and his confidence, Gary Propper endures, and we are proud to have endured with him for 50 years. Cheers, Mr. Propper, and congratulations on your golden anniversary. -Tracey Engelking


* Surf journalist Paul Holmes describes the Gary Propper surfboard model in his book “Hobie : Master of Water, Wind and Waves” as a noserider with a concave, teardrop pattern shaped into the bottom. Today, Hobie Surfboards offers the classic 1960s longboard in 9-foot to 9’8” lengths.

Hobie Shop :: The Vintage Aloha Collection at Hobie San Clemente

Coming Toady, Friday 8/19/16, to Hobie San Clemente, the latest additions to our Vintage Aloha Collection as curated and described by Craig Dunlap. This is an ongoing project that Craig is leading, so there will always be new additions of these kinds of gems hitting the shop. Check them all out now, then come shop before they are on someone else’s back!!



Now these aren’t your grandpa’s aloha shirts…But maybe they used to be! Here we’ve got a few examples of the classic ‘Safari Style’ aloha shirts made by Surfline Hawaii.  These things have got all the bells and whistles: Four flap-pockets, belted back, wooden buttons and even epaulets, all set on vintage barkcloth! Whether you’re on a surfin’ safari in West Africa, or observing the restless natives of Capo Beach at the #savageluau, you’ll be sure to discover a good time in one of these shirts!



Here we’ve got a few examples of the 1960’s ‘Duke Kahanamoku’ line by centenarian swimwear purveyor, Catalina.  Crafted in Hawaii with the telltale signs of premium aloha style: Genuine coconut buttons, loop collar and amazing midcentury patterns all on a tailored fit, medium-weight shirt.  It won’t matter whether you’re at a bonfire at Sano, or a swingin’ cocktail party at Jackie Treehorn’s beachfront pad in Malibu, these gems will say one thing… I’m here to party, and I’m gonna look good doing it!



Here we’ve got an offering that will crown you as the de facto ‘King of the Surf’: a matched 1960’s competition set by ‘Sears Sportswear’ that was made in the USA back when quality was the name of the game.  Heavy nylon, quality stitching and brass ‘Talon’ zippers will show everyone in the lineup that you’re gonna take first in your heat, and that you’ve got wave priority whether they like it or not!



Before there was Reyn Spooner, there was Reyn’s Men’s Wear.  Soon after Reyn Mcullough left his digs in Catalina for the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, he teamed up with Ruth Spooner, a local seamstress of surf trunks, to revolutionize “Aloha Wear’.  This is one of the earliest examples of his proprietary ‘Spooner Kloth’ which is the reverse print, poly/cotton blend that we now all associate with the Aloha Shirt.  Based on the post-Catalina, pre-Spooner label, this shirt was most likely handmade in the basement of the Ala Moana store somewhere between 1959 and 1964.



Close those eyes and transport yourself back to Oahu 1959. You’re sitting at the Shell Bar in the Hawaiian Village, listening to the exotic sounds of Martin Denny, sipping on a perfectly prepared Mai Tai.  The smell of lime and mint hit your nose just as Arthur Lyman’s vibraphone and Augie Colon’s bird calls hit your ears.  You look up, and what do you see? This shirt in all of its glory.  Wide-open collar, stylized pineapple print, ¾ sleeve zip-front with a pre-Spooner Reyn’s label (1959-1962).  Zip into this bad boy, kick back with a tropical beverage, and take it all in.  You’ve finally made it to the top!

Hobie Shop :: Hobie Shop Team Recreates Hobie Alter’s Iconic Umbrella Surfing Shot


The Legendary Mr. Hobie Alter


There are photos of Hobie Alter that hang all through the office. Hobie making one of his first surfboards, Hobie standing in the window of his first surf shop, Hobie sailing in his Cat, Hobie jumping his dirt bike, Hobie talking over a surfboard blank with Phil Edwards, but, no photo truly captures what is at the heart of Hobie the brand and Hobie the person quite like the iconic photo above. Hobie Alter, cruising across the water on a surfboard using a beach umbrella as a sail.



Ricky Fodor With Cody Alter Looking On.   photo : Eric Harrington



Before Hobie went into the surfboard business, he developed three rules that would become the basis for the way he approached his lifetime of work and would be the framework for “The Beach Lifestyle”. We won’t wear hard leather shoes, no jobs that require a suit and tie, and never work East of Pacific Coast Highway. They sound so simple to us now, but at the time this was an unheard of approach to life. But, that was Hobie. He knew that it would be possible to create a work life that supported his beach life! And, he knocked it out of the park for himself and for the generations of people who will come after him!




Ethan Mudge & Cody Alter.   photo : Eric Harrington


That is why we love and treasure this photo so much. It shows to a T that Hobie was a man who could have a good time. He loved nothing more then to make people a toy and a game to play it with. He showed the world what a strong work ethic could achieve while still making time for fun and never losing sight of your core principles.



Ricky Fodor   photo : Eric Harrington

So, with our founding father in mind, we gathered up a few members of The Hobie Surf Shop team, grabbed surfboards and beach umbrellas and set out to channel our inner Hobie and sail across the flat waters of Doheny! You should know, that “sailing” with an umbrella is a bit more complicated then it looks. It takes a few tries to get yourself set, but once you are moving, it feels like you could make it to Mexico under umbrella power! The other point about surfboard sailing is, it is impossible to participate with out laughing your head off. It’s just about the silliest, most enjoyable, goofy, thing that has been done on a flat day!




Ethan Mudge   photo : Eric Harrington 

Which, again, takes us back to that photo of Hobie. It serves as a constant reminder that we are here for a Good Time. Let me say that again, we are HERE for a GOOD TIME. Nothing that we do here at Hobie ever needs to be taken so seriously. We make toys. Plain and simple. Toys with games to play them with. And, that makes us just about the luckiest people around! Get out there today. Alter your boundaries and redefine fun! That is exactly what Hobie would be doing if he were still with us here today! -Tracey Engelking



Tracey Engelking  photo : Eric Harrington


Ricky Fodor  photo : Eric Harrington 


Ethan Mudge  photo : Eric Harrington 


Keaton Rose  photo : Eric Harrington 


Zeke Rose  photo : Eric Harrington


Keaton Rose  photo : Eric Harrington 

Hobie Surf :: Hobie Shop Team Rider, Ethan Mudge, On the Swells!


Swells have been nonstop so far for the Summer of 2016!! And, they are set to keep coming! Here is Ethan Mudge on one of smaller days at San Onofre in late June! Video is shot and edited by Eric Harrington of SanO Boardriding!! Enjoy!!