Dudley George “Hap” Jacobs was born in 1930 in Los Angeles and moved with his family to Hermosa Beach when he was eight. He started surfing at the age of 16 and began his shaping career in 1953, after returning from a two-year stint with the Coast Guard in Hawaii. Hap opened a retail shop in nearby Redondo Beach with Bev Morgan, a local diver and manufacturer of early wetsuits. They very aptly named their new business venture Dive N’ Surf.
Just a year or so after opening Dive N’ Surf with Morgan, Hap sold his interest in the business to Bill and Bob Meistrell, and Body Glove Wetsuits was born. Bill Meistrell, in turn, introduced Hap to Dale Velzy, and by the end of 1954 Velzy-Jacobs Surfboards had opened its first shop in Venice, California.
A seemingly odd combination of personalities, the partnership formed by the reserved, detail-oriented Jacobs and the outspoken, charismatic Velzy lasted just four years. In around 1960, Hap opened a factory/retail shop of his own along the Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach. By the mid ‘60s, Jacobs Surfboards – with its familiar diamond logo - was cranking out as many as 125 finely crafted surfboards every week. Hap had also put together one of the most capable surf teams ever, which included names like Robert August, Lance Carson, Mickey Dora, Linda Merrill, David Nuuhiwa and Donald Takayama.
As the shortboard era began to take hold in the early ‘70s, Jacobs joined several other surfing notables - including Dewey Weber, Greg Noll and Bruce Brown - and left the surfboard business in favor of commercial fishing. But as the popularity of longboard surfing began its resurgence in the early ‘90s, Hap picked up his planer and started shaping again. For the next 25 years or so, he continued to produce his extraordinary longboards. Then in early April of 2019 and in his typical unassuming way, Jacobs shaped his last surfboard.
Hap Jacobs died on December 19, 2021 at the age of 91. No doubt he was one of the most widely recognized and highly respected craftsmen in the surfboard building business.