All images courtesy of Peter Schwartz
Might be good to start by saying that Hobie Beach doesn't officially exist. Well, not on any municipal maps at least. It only picked up the name Hobie Beach in 70's when Hobie Cats became popular and this was the beach they launched at. It's actually officially called Shark Rock beach.
Interesting bit of info on the name Shark Rock. It's actually a total misnomer. The rocky outcrop known as Shark Rock upon which the pier was built was so named after the Shark River that empties into the sea at Humewood Beach. However - it isn't actually the Shark river at all. It was the Sark river, so named by the Dutch originally (maybe a distant relative of SuperSport commentator Ashwin Willemse...he's always talking about Sarks!). The English then somehow bastardised it into Shark instead of Sark...and Shark it stayed.
Development along this stretch of beach started in 1976, with the construction of Katie's Walk - which is the pathway built along the shore in this area, and still stands today as the walkway running in front of Barneys all along the beachfront up to Pipe. Part of building the walkway was the construction of the wall along the shoreline. This had the effect of destroying the small sand dunes that used to replenish the adjacent beaches.
So what happened was all of a sudden rocks started to appear on the beach cos now the sand wasn't getting fed back onto the beach from the dunes. This lead the municipality to recommend Hobie became a boating, not a bathing beach.
The municipality then decided they wanted to create a breakwater to try build up the sand a bit and make it safer for the Hobies to launch, so they just went and plonked a whole bunch of concrete blocks out without doing any sort of study on it's possible impacts beforehand. There was plenty opposition to the eye-sore, and it eventually got removed.
The Red Windmill was an iconic landmark at Hobie. It was built in the 60's, and was PE's most famous roadhouse at the time. Had the best soft serves you could imagine. And that lil "FLICK YOUR LIGHTS FOR SERVICE" sign on the wall above the menu always had peeps giggling cos the "L" and the "I" in "FLICK" were a bit close together n it looked like "F*CK YOUR LIGHTS FOR SERVICE"!
In 1982 the Hobie National were being held in PE, and organisors decided it's be a great idea if they could build a breakwater just off Hobie so that they could make it easier for the guys to launch their cats without getting slammed by the waves. They came up with the doff idea of tying a whole bunch of tyres together and then dragging them just off the backline and anchoring them there. Everyone told em it was a kak idea, and needless to say just before the event a huge east came up and destroyed the tyre breakwall after it'd been floating out there for just 36 hours.
Coupla big things went down in 1984. The Hollywood Hotel - a landmark possie which was a surfer hangout back in the day - was demolished. It made way for what today is the apartment block No1 Summerstrand on the corner of 1st Ave. In the same year, the Yacht Clubhouse was built next to the Red Windmill - where it still stands today in the carpark at Hobie. Yet another controversial beachfront saga - as no building was meant to take place on the sea side of Marine Drive. But probably the same then as now, anything goes if you know the right peeps.
Hobie beach as we know it today took shape in 1988 - with the building of the new car park, walkways and the start of the construction of Shark Rock Pier. The plan for the pier was to capture sand on the beach to cover what had become a really rocky stretch.
And whilst not strictly Hobie - the SugarBush deserves a mention. It was the roadhouse that used to stand on the corner where the Courtyard Hotel is today - opposite the City Lodge. Another favourite haunt for burgers and milkshakes. Nothing beats a roadhouse for a good post surf chow, and PE was lucky to be spoilt for choice back then - with the SugarBush (later known as the Casbah), Red Windmill, Something Good and Sundowners, out at Flat Rocks. Glad we're seeing the return of the Roadhouse era with Something Good being brought back to life.
Thanks to Peter Schwartz for all the images.