How Peter Schroff imagines glassers are punished in south-east Asian surfboard factories.

Proud: “My board says Made in Cambodia!”

So happy to have exotic Asian surfboard!

Yesterday, hothead Peter Schroff hit a nadir with his anti-made-in-Asia surfboard posts on Instagram. Using pens and with his hair tied into a bun, Schroff fashioned his sixty-three-year-old face into a facsimile of the stereotypical oriental.

“Does our dollar ‘av dis face on it?” wrote Schroff.

Earlier,

“Fuck Asian imports.”

And, “Let’s keep our dignity in this battle for a Asian import free nation.”

And, “Ask our foundin fathers wud day think of chinese junk?”

Well, I’m a proud owner of a made-in-Cambodia surfboard and I’d like to put in my two cents worth.

Last year, while visiting California, I made my bi-annual visit to an advertiser to accept payment. It’s always a theatre of the absurd with this particular company, who cry poor and offer boards instead of money.

“Three thousand dollars? Are you trying to break us?” And so forth.

When I deliver the usual analogy that they wouldn’t accept surf trunks from a surf shop in payment for boards the finance man weeps about the twenty or thirty dollars it costs to wire the money to my Australian bank account.

As per tradition, I buy dinner at a crummy restaurant to cover the bank transfer fee, compromise a little on the boards, accept that he didn’t realise the amount was in US dollars and Australian dollars and leave with a promise of immediate payment of the shrivelled balance (although that comes a dozen emails and two months later).

Well, on that trip I came out of the deal owning a surfboard wrapped in carbon and valued, according to the sticker price, at almost one thousand dollars. I was surprised, although not offended, by the Made in Cambodia sticker just visible near the tail.

I know how labour costs cripple the biz model of surfboards, and making boards offshore is the same smart biz decision clothing companies made two generations ago, although companies like GSI do like to talk down the cheap labour part. 

Two dollars an hour instead of thirty-five? I’m sure even you retarded sons-a-bitches can do the maths.

All wetsuits are made in Taiwan. Do you care?

My Cambodian surfboard gets tossed under the house like the rest of ’em. Gets surfed, thrashed, fins roughly pulled out and looks, feels, rides like anything I’ve had made in the US or Australia.

What do we owe the surly homegrown bastards who made you wait six months for a custom? Who don’t pick up the phone? Who say your board is being sanded when the blank hasn’t even been taken out of the rafters and tossed through the machine?

Nothing?

Or everything?


Oh, momentarily, a year or three, being surrounded by fans etc is a thrill. But, quickly, it gets old. John John from a Surfer Poll night a few years back. | Photo: Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Holiday repeat: 10 things that suck about being a pro surfer!

Even the A-plus pussy thing gets old… 

If you’re a man who lives within any proximity of the beach, you’ve always wanted to be a pro surfer. Like, aha, yeah, sure you want to be an accountant or a representative for a pharmaceutical goods company.

Girls wanna be models of course (hence the pout-y selflies with peace signs and bent legs, hands on hips etc) but beach rats wanna be a pro surfer. It’s validation of your manhood and your superiority over your dopey pals.

But, face it, it didn’t happen or it ain’t gonna happen.

Maybe you’ll scoop a minor sponsor, here, there, maybe you’ll even get a few free boards, but when the World Surf League steals only 34 surfers from the planet’s great pool of surfers (millions!), you don’t have to be Stevie Hawkings to see those miserable odds.

Yet…and yet… the tour isn’t the dick-swinging time you might think it is.

1. The pussy thing gets old

By the time the surf prodigy is 16 he’s engaged MILFs in relatively straight congress, had a handful of threesomes (though mostly guy-guy-girl), has faced maybe a dozen winking anuses (female) and has seen every variety of tit, pussy and haunch god ever created. The average man banks a dozen fucks, twenty if he’s a smooth-talker, on average, in his lifetime. A surf prodigy will roll those numbers during one good long weekend at a junior series event. You want to know why those pro’s get married so young? Cause they realise that sex without love ain’t much more than an agreeable friction. (Although that epiphany will eventually dull.)

2. Want to kill the thing you love? Do it for a living. 

When you and I go for a surf we schralp around for an hour or so, talk to our pals, fall off on every air attempt, drop-in, get dropped-in on, do fins-first take-offs and have a general blast. Now, imagine, your entire career, your life, your finances, your emotional health and, in some cases, the welfare of your family, depends upon you nailing two sets in a heat and banging off 10 perfect turns. And when you get home the internet is full of couch-cowboys telling the world what a kook you are. Stressful!

3. It’s so serious!

One-time tour surfer Mitch Crews thought the qualifying series had set him up for the most sublime experience of his life. And yet, “I felt very awkward in the competition area because I’m really social and felt like I had to go through the charade of putting my headphones on and then staring at the camera all strong.” No one’s there to make pals. They’ve seen Kelly nail 11-titles, and Mick three, from serious.

4. Mostly, it ain’t flying biz

Travel once a year and what a thrill it is to paw at the airline magazines, rip things out of sealed plastic bags and drink wine from plastic cups while the world soars beneath you. Do it every week and it loses all of its sheen, and then some. If you’re top three, you can afford biz. But who’s top three!

5. Bores at bars

I see it around every contest. Some fan eating the ears of a pro, friendly at first, then increasingly belligerent as the pro politely (and they’re always polite) declines his offer of drinks, drugs (If the Gold Coast, meth, if Spain, coke, if Portugal, MDMA) or to kiss his girlfriend. Every pro needs a Johnny Gannon or a Kaiborg. But who can afford it?

6. The surf media

Can you imagine being called up or cornered every day by writers whom, by even the kindest measure, are borderline retarded?

7. There ain’t a lot of money in it

For Kelly, Joel, Mick, Taj, Gabriel… yes. For the back end, a hundred grand goes into the bank, a hundred-ten gets spent on travel. After five years you end up back in your country town trying to kick-start a surf school or schlepping oversized tees on the road.

8. There’s a chance you’ll be killed 

Ever since big-wave surfing went psycho a few years back, the chances of being snuffed out in a heat has increased to it now being… likely. Ten foot Teahupoo; eight-foot Pipe. Not a lot separates you from rock.

9. The weird dynamic with friends

Once you get famous people treat you differently. Friends treat you differently. They walk a little to the side or behind with a sudden deference. And why wouldn’t they? Fans will come up and step right into your conversations with your pal. Girls will elbow the non-famous friend out of the way. And they don’t say a thing! Weird! But not as weird or awkward as…

10. You pay for everything

Let’s say you make it. Big time. A contender but not really. A million Americano shekels a year. You’ve  got a couple of houses, a pretty car. But go out for dinner and the little leather wallet will be placed in front of you every single fucking time, either by staff or discreetly by head friend, to, like “fix up”. He’s rich! We’re not! is the unspoken transaction.


Peter Schroff, right, playing "yellow-face".

Peter Schroff Does “Yellow Face”!

Noted Newport shaper and designer says “fuck Asian imports”…

Californians of a certain age, that is, old, will remember ever so well the Newport shaper and designer Peter Schroff.

At his mid-eighties peak he was making boards as Peter Schroff Designs as well as an “anti-surf” line, Schroff clothing, boards and t-shirts emblazoned in luminous pinks and patterned like happy tropical fish.

Lately, Schroff, who is sixty three years old, has fashioned himself as the anti-imported surfboard and fiercely anti-Asian, provocateur. He throws his online barbs, mostly, at the Australian surfboard company Hayden Shapes and the Kelly Slater-owned Firewire Surfboards (although he targets the company’s CEO Mark Price) and Slater Designs, all of whom manufacture the bulk of their surfboards in south-east Asia.

Last year, Schroff filmed himself  “performing and documenting the ritualized destruction of a Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto surfboard” at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club in New York, “in honor of those workers replaced by overseas labor.”

A recent post on Instagram:

“As we march forward let’s keep our dignity in this battle for a Asian import free nation, there’s power in freedom of speech without stooping to the level of name calling or anger.”

And,

wakiewakieggs'nbakie, it's a new day!

A post shared by Peter Schroff (@peterschroff) on

Yesterday, Schroff did a little “yellow-face” on Instagram alongside, “does our dollar ‘av dis face on it?”

It follows a post loosed minutes before that says, “ask our foundin fathers wud day think of chinese junk?”

All of which was a little too much, even for Schroff’s small, but mostly devoted followers:

  • shoupacabra I like your anti-corporate screeds but fuck this shit – UNFOLLOWED.
  • tonyapolloperez Holy cow dude?
  • happybattlesurfco Would love to buy you some beers if you ever in San Diego. Something I want to discuss with you in person on how we can help our friends and family in the surf industry. I’m not mad about this post or offended whatsoever. I get what you’re all about, but I think you are attacking the wrong group here my friend. Don’t attack the asians that doing all the manual labor. They are just doing what they contract to do by these mega surf corporation. They are just doing the labor. Want to make a big impact? You start small and educate the surf shops that sells these junk. Aloha.
  • gillespieboards Your shit “cool dude” spelling and continual putting shit on people is getting me down. Your boards look good, but you just seem to be an angry old man who likes to show off (chainsaw shit), and stir the pot. Sick of your egotistical rants. Unfollow.
  • dan_in_perth Wow, some racism. I was with you up until this point. Unfollowed.
  • austintylerallen The fuck?

Do you mostly like the work of Newport’s ancient provocateur and think, gee whiz, it’d sure be nice to keep surfboard manufacturing as a local cottage industry and so forth, but regard Pete as a little out of tune on the anti-Asian thing?

Or do you have rifle in hand, hood on head and, oowee, you’re ready to run the fish-heads out of town?

One thing y’can’t take away from Schroff, however, are his boards.

The damn things are sublime. Order online here. 


Anonymous dirty hands! Many secrets!

Confessions of a Ghost Shaper!

It's dirty and life-shortening and filled with so many wonderful secrets!

Recently, I got talking to a ghost shaper, that surfboard craftsman of either fading or soaring ambition, depending on age.

This was a man in his twenties who is young enough to want to do something with the skills he’s cultivated finishing off boards for two of the world’s biggest surfboard companies. But still happy, for the time being, to make a thousand bucks a week refining the plugs spat out of an AKU machine.

And the secrets he revealed!

Did you know that when a new board model from a competitor comes out, brands will send a junior to buy it, measure it up and create a CAD file? The shaper will make a few adjustments and, wow, new board model. Hence why so many brands have comparable boards coming out around the same time.

Instead of finishing their boards in their own factories, the glassing and sanding is outsourced. In Australia boards go to TC Glasshouse, Onboard or Glasslab. Check the tail of your board for the Glasshouse logo. You’ll see TC on brands such as Lost & Pyzel, Glasslab on CI, Sharp Eye & Stacey, Onboard on CI and Simon Anderson. Pureglass in California finish Lost, Pyzel, HS and CI etc. These glasshouses can handle a part of the manufacturing process or the whole thing. From blanks to cutting & shaping to glassing and finishing to storage and distribution.

It ain’t your imagination that some boards are better than others, at least in quality. Jason Stevenson (JS) is notorious for hardcore quality-control checks and will happily bin a board if it doesn’t reach his standards. It’s why he makes all his boards (300 to 500 a week) on the Gold Coast instead of licensing his name to factories in Europe, the USA and Brazil. JS builds ’em, sticks ’em in a container and ships ’em where they need to go.

Surfboard making at any level is a labour intensive and time consuming gig. So if you get a dud board (finish wise) most likely the guy who had to make eight-to-ten boards that day cut a couple of corners on yours because he wanted to get to the beach, bar, whorehouse. I have a board from a big-name San Clemente factory that still has markings from the shaping machine on the rails. Doesn’t mean the company doesn’t know to shape and finish boards properly. It just means that the guy who shaped my board couldn’t be bothered doing a proper job on this particular board for whatever reason.

Things most surfers don’t even consider make a big difference. For example, the blanks ad resins used. Blanks are a big deal. The USA still make the best chemicals so the big guys in Australia import ’em. A lot of the smaller factories use cheaper chemicals from Australia or elsewhere and the boards can be heavier, more fragile and don’t look as clean when finished.

 

Ghost shaping surfboards is a… killer…job. My ghost shaper pal has smoked two cigs in his life. His doctor says his lungs, at twenty-two, are the same as someone who has smoked a pack a day for twenty years.


Revealed: Machado’s famous friend!

Do you have any famous friends?

The holiday season is the most wonderful time to share family love. From Thanksgiving (in America) all the way to New Year’s Day, well wishes pour through the mail and over the internet as people connect in the spirt of peace, harmony, etc. Did you send Christmas cards this year or did you do the ecologically-minded alternative and post your greetings on Instagram?

The Rob Machado family posted its on Instagram with the simple, heartfelt message “Happy holidays from the Machado’s.” While Machado’s what/who remains unclear, many people responded with great cheer in the comments.

“You’re an inspiration…”

“So cozy!”

“Solid.”

“Happy holidays!”

One in particular caught my eye. It included three emoji shakas and one emoji bicep flex before “Happy Holidays to what seems like an incredible family” and was written by none other than Josh Brolin.

You, of course, are aware of Josh’s magnificent work in Oliver Stone’s W., the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster among many others. He is a national treasure and apparently Rob Machado’s friend.

Do you wish he was your friend? Do you have any famous friends at all?

I count The Ravonettes‘ Sune Rose Wagner and Boston Celtics co-owner James Pallotta amongst mine. My wife is friends with Pink and my brother was friends with a girl in high school who babysat Josh Brolin’s kids. But who do you have? Who is your most famous friend?