Gentlemanly surfboard manufacturer from Hermosa Beach, California; founder of Jacobs Surfboards. Jacobs was born (1930) in Los Angeles, the son of a plumber, moved with his family to Hermosa in 1938, and began surfing at age 16. He started shaping boards in 1953, after spending two years stationed in Hawaii with the Coast Guard; the following year, in short order, he was a founding partner (with Bev Morgan) in Dive N Surf, then became partners with master boardmaker Dale Velzy, and together they opened Velzy-Jacobs Surfboards in Venice Beach, California; four years later they split and Jacobs founded his own label, opening a factory-retail store in Hermosa Beach.
The lean (6'2", 180 pounds), soft-spoken Jacobs was regarded as one of surfing's finest craftsmen, and his new company did well from the beginning; by the middle of the decade Jacobs Surfboards was making up to 125 boards a week, testing the stamina of the owner and six other full-time shapers—only Hobie Surfboards, Weber Surfboards, and Greg Noll Surfboards were producing more units.
The impeccably kept high-ceilinged Jacobs showroom was described by surf publisher Steve Pezman as the "Notre Dame Cathedral" of surf shops. Jacobs meanwhile assembled a red-hot surf team, including Hawaii-born shaper Donald Takayama, noseriding ace Lance Carson, tandem champion Linda Merrill, Endless Summer star Robert August, Malibu heavyweight Mickey Dora, 1964 world title runner-up Mike Doyle, and two-time U.S. champion David Nuuhiwa.
Jacobs left the business in 1971 and worked for 15 years as a commercial fisherman (the retail shop closed in 1981); in the early '90s he once again began shaping boards under the Jacobs label.
As of 2012, production at Jacobs surfboards was headed by shaper Matt Calvani.