Template of a shaper: Hap Jacobs builds his last board

Hap Jacobs with the final surfboard he built, flanked by friends and team riders (left to right) Joey Lombardo, Mike Purpus, Morgan Sliff, Jose Barahona, Troy Campbell, Pat Cahill, Ian Ritter. Kip Jerger, Chris Bredesen, Derek Levy and Dan Williams. Photo

Editor’s note: the following story originally appeared in Easy Reader in April, 2019.

Hap Jacobs has shaped his last surfboard. The board is a clear glassed, 9-foot, single fin Performance model, with a redwood stringer down the middle and red pin stripes wrapping the rails. Jacobs never made showy surfboards. Nor, despite his legendary status, did he ever want to be the center of attention. He returned to his Cypress Avenue shaping bay for a photo with his last shaped board only at the insistence of friends, and former team riders. 

Hap Jacobs at Haleiwa, Hawaii. Photo by Leroy Grannis

Jacobs was the  Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of Fame inductee when it was inaugurated in 2003. And he was the last to shape boards from among the great Golden Age of Surfing shapers, and fellow Hermosa Beach 2003 inductees Greg Noll, Dewey Weber, Bing Copland, and Dale Velzy.

Greg Noll, and Bing Copeland closed their Pacific Coast Highway surf shops, and their Cypress Avenue factories in the early 1970s, at the onset of the short board revolution. Weber and Velzy made the transition from longboard to shortboard shapers. But Weber died in 1993 and Velzy in 2005. 

Like Noll and Copeland, Jacobs stopped shaping when shortboarding replaced longboarding. But rather than discount his masterfully crafted longboards, Jacobs carried them out back from his Pacific Coast Highway showroom and sawed them in half.

Hap Jacobs and Rick Stoner at the Hermosa pier in Oct. 1946. Photo by Doc Ball.

After he stopped shaping in 1971, Jacobs ran the King Harbor fuel dock and fished commercially aboard his swordfish boat “Patricia J,” named after his wife Patty.

He resumed shaping boards during the early 1990s longboard revival, but on a modest scale, for friends and team riders.

Periodically, he would announce his retirement, only for word to leak out that he was back in the shaping bay. But this time, there was a finality to his retirement announcement, unrelated to his 88 years. Jacobs remains mentally quick and physically agile.

When he arrived at his Cypress Avenue shaping bay, he pulled from the back of his white Toyota SUV the thin plywood templates he used for over five decades to inscribe surfboard blanks with the outlines of his popular Performance and 422 models.

After a photograph with former Jacobs team riders, he bequeathed the prized templates to protege Jose Barahona, whose shaping bay is also on Cypress, a few doors down from Jacobs’. Barahona will carry on the  Jacobs’ shapes and name. ER

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