A debate on the delicate topic of made-in-Asia surfboards…
If you’ve kicked around here even for us the past few months, you would’ve seen the myriad stories about shaper Peter Schroff’s war against made-in-Asia surfboards.
The sixty-three-year-old shaper from Newport Beach in California, the darling of eighties surf chic, has fashioned himself as the anti-imported surfboard and fiercely anti-Asian, provocateur.
He has used a chainsaw to cut in half an (imitation) Hypro Krypto and, lately, he’s been targeting the Kelly Slater-owned Firewire surfboards and Slater Designs, all of whom manufacture surfboards in south-east Asia.
(They’re not the only countries who enjoy the considerable economic benefits of Asian labour, of course. Most of the carbon-wrapped boards you see are made in Thailand or Vietnam. JS, Lost and so on. Have a look at the tail of your board.)
Two days ago, Shane Dorian, whose son Jackson is Kelly’s godson, who rides Slater Designs and who was a guest at Surf Ranch, weighed into the debate on Schroff’s admittedly poorly subscribed Instagram account on the side of Asian-made boards.
“Imported goods don’t sell because they’re imported,” wrote Shane. “People buy the board they want to ride. Just like you buy the car you want to drive and the food you want to eat. If you have an imported car, shop at Target or Cosco or wear Italian sunglasses y8ou are unable to preach about buying local. The surf shops are not the problem, imported boards are not the problem The problem is people don’t want to ride your boards.”
Valid points, yes?
There’s a lot of back and forthing on the thread, which you can read here, but it gets good when the longboarder Joel Tudor suddenly bites after one commenter wrote:
“Ask @joeljitsuwhere his values were when he had a full line of surftech longboards before he went all elitist and purest. Look to the past and you’ll see your old weed maps black belt buddy riding surf tech China longboards. While I don’t mind a change of heart, be transparent about your past. Those boards paid the bills at the time, now his child labor footwear does.
To which he replied, “I quit doing it because I saw the damage it was doing to friends in surf factory’s here at home/also wasn’t in retirement mode that I needed the extra income at the cost of local builders …,takayama & velzy were the ones who originally talked me into it ….over time realized that royalty wasn’t worth the damage it was causing to the industry! Yes i smoke weed ,witch has nothing to with this conversation- enjoy your day.”
And, pointedly, to Shane, “Call me sometime & we can chat about this stuff – I can give you some helpful insight on all this stuff & where all the old school crew are coming from ….this isn’t just a here at Home issue ….this effects all the factories world wide that are owned & operated by surfers …the very people that created the industry & write our checks all stated out mowing foam or were around surf manufacturing! The easiest solution to all of this is build them locally in each hub of sales …aus , Europe , Hawaii , Japan , USA , Brazil have excellent factories & builders who actually surf ….hence keeping it in the hands of surfers …also most the countries with exception to Brazil have a active EPA that call bullshit on all the corners FireWire is cutting to avoid losing profit …..acetone recycling…charcoal filters …fire marshals …EPA are all realistic things we should deal with in a attempt to keep our stuff somewhat clean – pretty much a way of life for most world who build Surfboards.”
Shane replied, “I agree with a lot of what you are saying. All I’m saying is complaining about imports or anything else does nothing except make people look like whiners. Anyone can talk, and there is a lot of that here. It’s easy to see the problems and point fingers and place blame. Anyone can do that. The surf businesses, including the surf shops are adapting just to barely stay alive. It’s all changing so quick and to me it looks like trying to stop the tide from coming in, unfortunately.”
You, yes you, tell me: are Asian-made boards a tide coming in? Does it matter?
Personally, I couldn’t care where the damn thing was made (read about my date with a Cambodian model here) and feel that a brother is a brother is a brother, Asian or otherwise.
Are you with me?