Hobie, Dale, & Bing
Hobie, Dale, & Bing
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February 13th, 2020
March 30th, 2020
Former SURFER magazine editor, Paul Holmes on Hobie Alter, Dale Velzy, and Bing Copeland. Recorded at Laguna Beach Library. Laguna Beach, California.
So, I made a specialty of interviewing and profiling over the years. I did about three dozen of the surf pioneers. Out of that body of work came a number of books. I ended up writing about three books, on Dale Velzy, was the first one, who was a surfer and surfboard pioneer from the South Bay. And then I did a follow up book on Bing Copeland, with Bing surfboards. He was like a protégé of Velzy’s. So, the next generation, you know. And then I was privileged to also be able to do the book on Hobie Altar, who was, obviously raised right here in Laguna Beach, overlooking Thalia St., where he started making surfboards in 1954. And, of course became a legend in surfing and sailing, because he not only was a great maker of surfboards, he went on to design and build the Hobie Catamaran, which was the, really changed the whole face of sailing as everybody knew it, as the people’s boat. Right? Velzy was an amazing character, I mean, just a one of a kind…exemplified, really, to me, what California represented, was all about, because he was not just a surfer, he was a horseman, cowboy, working cowboy. When he was younger he worked on ranches, here in California, and also in Arizona. He was like, a guy who that had one foot in the pioneer West, of the cowboys and the cattle ranches, and one foot in the modern era of Aerospace industries, and foam, and resin, and all of that stuff. He kind of stradled this huge historical chasm. He started making surfboards at sixteen, seventeen years old, in the South Bay, in Manhattan Beach. He got the world’s first, he got California’s first recognition as surfboard maker, which hadn’t existed before, that was like back in the late forties. And opened a shop on Manhattan Blvd. just up from the pier. Was the first surf shop in this part of the world. Built an empire, and lost it all. Yeah, they broke the mold with Dale Velzy, I’ll tell you that. But a little bit of Dale rubbed off on all these other people, you know. Bing, for one. When Bing Copeland was thirteen, fourteen years old, he would get out of school and rush over to Velzy’s shop so he could sweep up the shavings, or do anything for the master. And of course Bing went on to create his own sufboard empire, which is still going today. It’s amazing. Hobie too, was no doubt somewhat influenced by Velzy. In fact, Hobie told me how he and a buddy went up to Velzy’s shop in Manhattan to kind of snoop around, see what he was up to. So, then, Hobie could come back here to Laguna Beach to start making surfboards in the garage of his family home down there on Gaviota, near Thalia Street. All of these guys are like, pioneers, entrepreneurs, sort of can do people. I mean, Hobie, was a self-taught engineer, a machinist. He would make his own boat parts out of aluminum blocks on a lathe. People have no idea of the skills, and the innovation that these people had. That to me was what California represented in every way, as well as the outdoor lifestyle, the surfing, the rest of it. These were people at a time and place that’s probably never going to be seen again. Unless you think that Silicon Valley is somewhat like that these days, I don’t know, maybe so. Without the water, yeah. Low tide.
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Original file was named, OCDS HOLP002.mp4. It was renamed to, corcl_000180_prsv.mp4.