In 1957, to celebrate a big sales year, Velzy paid cash for a 300SL Mercedes; pulling up in front of his San Clemente shop, he’d pop open the driver’s side gullwing door and walk toward the factory jingling his keys in one hand and holding a half pint of bourbon in the other.
Customers lined up behind one man or the other, Hobie or Velzy, giving their allegiance not just to a brand but a form of surfing leadership.
I posted a Hobie interview yesterday in Above the Roar, from 2012, and he says, talking about when the IRS shut Velzy down, “We felt bad for Dale when he went under.
In EOS, you mention a Drew Kampion quote from ‘88 that, “Perhaps more than anyone else, including Gidget, Dora, Frankie and Annette, even the Duke, Hobie Alter has been responsible for the growth and development of surfing. ” Do you agree?
We asked Warshaw more about the legacies left by Velzy and Hobie, and how the two uniquely navigated surfing’s first commercial boom.
Who do you think would’ve emerged from the ’60s as the more successful board-maker? Hobie, no question. Velzy had distractions. In a good way.
Former SURFER Editor Paul Holmes wrote the biographies for both Velzy (2006) and Hobie (2013).
The day Velzy went down, you know Hobie went out and bought three cases of Oly and it was beers all around at the factory.
Velzy is a surfer-cowboy-biker-hustler, a total fireworks show. Hobie is Henry Fonda.
In a bit of ad copy, Alter described his boards as having “evolved through careful and original changes, using proven principles and vast experience. ” Velzy, as even his most loyal followers would admit, was a hustler.
Velzy swooped down from Los Angeles in 1955 to open a new outlet in San Clemente, on Pacific Coast Highway, just five miles south of Hobie’s shop, for the express purpose of siphoning off potential customers driving up from San Diego.
Maybe you’d change it to be “Growth and development of the surfing industry. ” The way we ride waves, talk, watch surfing, think about surfing — that all would have happened the way it did without Hobie.
If he’d hired an accountant, paid all his bills on time, he’d still never be in the same league as Hobie in terms of business focus, drive, ambition.
When was the moment Velzy realized that Hobie was the real deal?
Dale clearly didn’t give a shit about business, and Hobie didn’t think Dale’s boards were all that great.
Read more here: Surfer Mag