Fred Pyke started shaping surfboards in 1962, setting up business at 578 Sydney Road, Brunswick Victoria in 1964.
Fred was a champion road and track cyclist who narrowly missed selection to represent Australia at the 1960 Rome Olympics. A seven time club champion, he decided to move his growing surfboard shaping business to the west coast town of Torquay in late 1966.
Fred was meticulous in his creations and was a pivotal character in surfboard development and manufacturing. His favorite shapes were long boards with clean lines.
Fred’s glasser was the perfectionist Peter Ashley and the list of surfers that worked and trained in the art of shaping at Fred Pyke's is a who’s who of the early surfing establishment. Learning their trade from Fred included Ripcurl's co-founder Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick, Ray Wilson - Victoria’s first Vic Open champion in 1964, Alan Atkins, Jeff 'Bear’ Spence, Dennis 'Strapper' Day, Don Allcroft, Graeme ‘Willey’ Muncey, Maurice Cole and Pat Morgan.
In late 1970 Fred travelled to America and bought the license to make Dive N Surf wetsuits. His business began to pump and now employed over 40 machinists to keep up with demand.
In 1971 a young hot surfer John Law (co founder of Quiksilver) worked for Fred and learnt the art of wetsuit making and later in 1972 won the Vic Open Title on a Willy Muncey shaped Pyke board. As John Law says of Fred, “His business expanded into being a true, diversified precursor to the modern day surf business. He developed the reputation of a true craftsman, and was recognised as the best within surfboard manufacturing in Victoria”. Without doubt Fred had a huge impact on surfing in Victoria.
Fred and his wife Elizabeth still live next to the original Pyke Surfboards factory and today he spends his time playing golf and using his extraordinary furniture making skills to make beautiful handcrafted pieces. Fred was a mentor to many of the true characters and legends that shaped Torquay over the past 45 years.
Story by Bob Smith.