"Kelly, as a business man and a national hero, could make better choices. So, yes, I am a thorn in his eye."
One week ago, the eleven-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater proved, again, his willingness to unholster his telephone when he opened a front on Instagram with bête noire Peter Schroff, the noted LA-based shaper and artist who has turned his hate for Asian-made surfboards into performance art.
(To see Schroff’s body of work on Instagram click Blood Feud: Schroff v Hayden Cox, Relentless: Schroff’s War on Mark Price, Peter Schroff Does Yellow Face, Modern: Peter Schroff Doubles Down and Three-Way: Dorian v Tudor v Schroff.)
The owner of San Diego surf shop Happy Battles, Mark Polintan, had posted a photo of a Schroff t-shirt commemorating a 2019 show where Schroff had used a chainsaw to destroy a Slater Designs Sci-Fi.
Kelly responded with the pointed message,
“Hahaha. Must be great to be in your mid-late 60’s, on drugs, sexually confused and dying for any kind of attention. Wonderful example to promote.”
Earlier today, I interviewed Schroff, sixty-six years old and living in a gorgeous shack in San Pedro, a neighbourhood on a little peninsula next to LAX and the Wilmington Refinery.
Schroff asked, “What do I owe this dubious pleasure, too?”
There was a pause and he laughed,
“I’m sure I know what it’s about.”
So we got into it,
Schroff beginning with, “Kelly, hands down, best fucking surfer that ever lived and I’ll tell him that til the day he dies.”
I’ve been doing this work (making surfboards) for over fifty years, I have a lot of friends in the industry and I’m trying to preserve a dying breed, an endangered species. I think Kelly, as a business man and a national hero, could make better choices. So, yes, I am a thorn in his eye.
“Thing is, he’s a national hero and where he plays the world plays. I’ve been doing this work (making surfboards) for over fifty years, I have a lot of friends in the industry and I’m trying to preserve a dying breed, an endangered species. I think Kelly, as a business man and a national hero, could make better choices. So, yes, I am a thorn in his eye. Kelly has a lot more to lose than I have to lose and, you know, I’m going to die soon, so I don’t give a fuck. What I do won’t affect me. I don’t make enough surfboards. The battle with Kelly killed my business. I don’t get any benefit. I’m just sticking to my guns. Every board is handshaped and sprayed. I back up my words.”
A light laugh, as if he’d just spilled milk on his little frock.
“It’s fun, like playing a game of pool. Everybody gives it their best shot. Each year I keep praying that Kelly wins his twelfth world title, to show how great he is. My favourite saying is, Kelly is like Marlon Brando in Apocoplypse Now. He’s off his rocker but he’s amazing. Then again, I’m off my rocker, too.”
After a brief foray into the cosmic occurrence of the number three, Schroff continues.
“Kelly’s board designs are brilliant, his surfing is brilliant, but going to Thailand to have ‘em produced? That’s my only gripe.”
“Kelly’s just gotta get a backbone over this kinda thing. Life is great. No fucking shit.”