RIP Hobie Alter and Bob Billingham

31 Mar

By Kimball Livingston Posted March 31, 2014

The news hit me when I was living life to the full and feeling every minute of it.

Somehow, that seems right.

The last time I saw Bob Billingham, he was setting up to do America’s Cup commentary in a setting that, as Project Manager, he had orchestrated. He showed no sign of the cancer or the treatments that had been in his foreground for years, and I never heard a word out of his own mouth about them. Nothing slowed Bob down until he hit the wall, and he hit the wall fast forward. In 2013, I heard a friend say that the America’s Cup was keeping him alive – to fill its demands – but Bob disappeared over the winter, and I started hearing of a fast slide, not to be talked about openly. Bob was never afraid of having a public presence, as long as it wasn’t “about” him.

Only a week ago I was writing about the naming of a racing mark in his honor, the Billingham Buoy, a mark on the cityfront of San Francisco. But I was fully briefed to not say what many of us knew, that Bob had run out of time. He died only five days later at home in Grass Valley, California, surrounded by family.

Hobie Alter? The man altered our world. From surfboards to an off-the-beach catamaran culture all its own to a 33-foot monohull type than can still win races, Hobie was a man, a name, a brand and a lifestyle. He once explained himself by way of saying that his goal in life was to “never have to wear hard-soled shoes or live east of the Pacific Coast Highway.” If he turned into a mountain man later on, well, he never was much on rules, even his own.

Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Hobie.


This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES


  1. Jennifer Freeberg

    Bob Billingham was a loyal business partner. He always remained passionate about his sailing career and his work as an Owner’s Rep. He is dearly missed by our clients as well as the America’s Cup team. RIP Bob – sailing you home with high tides and that glass of vino. Jennifer

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