John "Ike" Eichert was born in Montecito, California in 1941. He got his nickname in 1952 when General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower ran for the U.S Presidency. A true Santa Barbara area native, his mother's family settled in the area in the 1930s, and his father's family arrived in the late '20s.
At the age of 14, John started surfing - on an old 10' 8" balsa surfboard. After a couple years of dragging that heavy old board to the beach, he decided it was time to make his own shorter, lighter board and in 1957, Ike and Tuck Surfboards was born ("Tuck" was Tucker Stevens, Ike's childhood buddy). John's first board was a re-shape, made in a 14' X 14' shack behind Tucker's mom's house. That shack was home to Ike and Tuck Surfboards from 1957 to 1960.
In early 1961, Ike got a job as a Glasser and finisher for Yater Surfboards, working out of Jack Hiren's glass shop in Ventura. Then in August of 1961 - at the age of 20 - Ike opened his first surf shop at 24 Cota Street in Santa Barbara. Out of that first shop came the innovations in surfboard design for which Ike has become known, including the V-slot" (removable) fin, the "V-Tail", an early 3-fin surfboard, and George Greenough's first knee boards. Ike and Greenough were grade school friends, and it was Ike who provided important input on most of George's fin and knee board designs.
By 1964, Ike had outgrown his Cota Street shop, so he moved to a larger building in nearby Goleta. From that shop came his "halo fin" and fiberglass stringers, reflecting Ike's continuing thirst for innovation. But by 1966, as production became increasingly important in the surfboard business, Ike decided to close his shop. While continuing to shape custom surfboards under the Ike label, John shaped for Doug Roth Surfboards and then Renny Yater. In fact, it was Ike who shaped most of the Yater Spoons that were built in the mid '60s.
In 1969, John made a major shift in his career - from surfing to commercial fishing and boat building. He began by starting an offshore fishing business, while managing the Dry Dock in Santa Barbara harbor. Then in 1970, Ike moved with his family to the Puget Sound, working in a boat yard and continuing to fish commercially. Three years later, he moved back to California, where he fished out of Avila Beach. In 1977, Ike opened a custom boat building shop, where he again demonstrated his extraordinary design and fabrication capabilities. John built 24 to 44 foot commercial fishing boats and pleasure craft using hand-built jigs and a fiberglass/wood sandwich technique. Never walking away from his roots in surfing, he continued to shape surfboards and sailboards under the Ike name.
After returning to boat yard management in San Diego and Santa Barbara in the '90s, Ike retired to Paso Robles, California in 2000. He has a shaping room in his back yard, where he still mows some foam and enjoys building vintage style solid balsa boards. It is worth mentioning that all Ike surfboards built over the last 50+ years were hand-shaped by Ike himself.
A bit of surf trivia about Ike that we found interesting...one of the opening scenes in Bruce Brown's movie The Endless Summer features George Greenough riding one of his knee boards in a fast, hollow tube. Do you know where that sequence was taken, and who shot it? That's right - it was John Eichert behind George's camera at the sandspit just inside the Santa Barbara harbor. All Greenough wanted in return for Brown's use of the footage was a couple of rolls of fresh film...seems that's the way in was in those days.
John Eichert is a great guy who is always willing to share one of his many colorful surf stories. We're stoked to call Ike our friend...