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Remembering Chops Lascelles, 10 Years On


surfboard shaper peter chops lascelles
In the shaping bay at Wheal Kitty, 1998

October 11th this year marked the tenth anniversary of the passing of our Peter “Chops” Lascelles, and on October 17th it would have been his 71st birthday. When Chops passed away suddenly and unexpectedly back in 2013 it not only left a huge hole in our family, but also on the local community and British surf scene. And so, having just celebrated Chops’ life at the sixth outing of the Rioja Classic (the charity surf contest and party that we throw in his honour*), we also wanted to mark the ten-year milestone by asking some of surfing's worldwide family to reflect on his contributions to surfing, and his enduring legacy.


chops lascelles and cheyne horan at a surf contest in the UK in the 1970s
Chops and Cheyne Horan, possibly at the Gul Alder contest in 1981.

Chops was born on October 17, 1952 in Proserpine, Queensland, although he didn’t gain his nickname until he hit his teens in the mid sixties. The Lascelles family moved to Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast in 1962, where Chops learned to surf at Moffat Beach. Fast forward three years to 1965 and he had won the Queensland Junior State surfing title before going on to win the Australian Cadet Surfing title in 1966, whilst big brother David (Uncle Humprey) had started Cord Surfboards. In his late teens and early twenties he started travelling for surf, first arriving in the south west of the UK with Mary in 1975. Around 1976 he started a surfboard shaping business servicing the developing British surf scene with cutting-edge and internationally influenced surfboards made by experienced hands. He developed his renowned Laminations factory in St Agnes, the home of Cord in Europe as well as Hot Stuff and his own Beach Beat label, and used his Australian connections to bring first Rip Curl, then Billabong, to the European market alongside a whole host of international surf hardware and apparel brands. Through the 1980s Chops and Mary had three sons, opened a surf shop (Aggie Surf Shop is still going strong to this day), he introduced the thruster to the UK and then through the mid to late eighties Chops, Humphrey and friend Mick Gadson manufactured, distributed and grew Billabong in Europe. Throughout this time Chops continued to shape surfboards and took an active role in the British and European contest scene. He won titles in English shortboard and longboard competitions, represented England in two world championships, surfed in two European championships, and surfed the invitational Stubbies competition at Burleigh Heads as well as returning to win the 1999 Hossegor Masters title. As coach of the British surf team he brought back a European title, and he mentored a huge number of British an Irish surfers. Somehow, he also found time to write for surfing publications and guest lectured on free-form design at the architecture faculty of Vienna University. He was nothing if not energetic and enthusiastic. He lived life to the full, and we miss him.


chops lascelles drinking a coffee on a boat trip
"For somebody from Australia, Chopsy may as well have been Cornish. He was always a pleasure to see and always made me leave with a huge smile whenever I was around him. Chops really pushed us all. He always had an entourage of international pro surfers who he brought over to the village, and it just pushed all of us as grommets having the likes of Cheyne Horan and Shaun Thompson the first time they came over for the first Newquay contest, my God, and Glenn Winton and Rabbit surfing at Chapel. It was inspirational. He definitely was such a great human being and we all miss him dearly. He shaped Cornish surfing and Cornish surf culture in a major way.”
- Swilly
chops lascelles and wayne rabbit bartholomew
With Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew at the Wheal Kitty factory, 1980s, from the Wavelength Magazine archives.
"I knew Chops for years and years, and he was a massive influence to me both in the water and out of it. When he first came over from Australia I remember one day we went to low tide Porthleven, and I sat and watched him from the water for an hour because it was like a clinic on how to get barrelled. Being Australian he had more experience than us both surfing and shaping, and was happy to share and let young surfers into his shaping bay. His boards were up-to-date from what was happening in Australia so there was massive influence there. We pushed each other which was great, and eventually we both met in the European surfing titles in the final and it was great to surf against Chops - we had a massive party and a great time afterwards and I think we were both winners in that game. Chops was a superb surfer and a great chat and I miss him dearly."
- Nigel Semmens

chops lascelles surfing a small left hand wave in boardshorts in the 1980s
Surfing Fistral in boardies sometime in the 80s

"The first time I met Chops was at one of the first surfing contests that I went to take pictures of, and that was the Watergate Open in 1976. I think Chops came 2nd or 3rd. And then a year or so later our first colour surfing magazine came out, Atlantic Surfer, and Chops had a bit article in there about shaping and surfboard design. That was quite influential going round, because it was the first of our colour magazines. Chops was very influential in British surfing, but especially in the Aggie area. When all the contests really started getting going, like the SS1000 in 83 or 84, Chops was there, competing and shaping boards for other competitors. He was a great part of British surfing history and also European surfing history. He was instrumental in bringing Billabong over, and he bought in Multi-Fins from Australia. When the first really big pro contest took place in 1981, which was the Euro Pro sponsored by Gul and Alder, Chops had Cheyne Horan and Rabbit and all those guys staying with him and he was shaping boards for them. He was a real legend."
- Alex Williams

Chops riding a yellow Tris board at The Desert in Tenerife, 1981
Chops riding a yellow Tris board at The Desert in Tenerife, 1981

“A gentleman of the sea, a scholar of the road, a teller of remarkable tales. Chops became the fabric of a wonderful area of the world. What a fine mark to have left.”
- Derek Hynd

Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew, tad, Peter Chops Lascelles at the 1981 Gul Alder surf contest in the UK
At the 1981, Gul Alder Event with Rabbit and Tad.

“A big part of English board building history gone. Aloha Chops! You are a legend sir!”
- Joel Tudor

chops lascelles surfing at estagnots in france, 1980
Surfing Estagnots, France, in 1980. Chops was out trading waves with Tom Curren this day.

"We loved being in his presence. Such an innovative, resourceful, encouraging, helpful and knowledgeable good friend to many here in Ireland that he always was. It's so good that ye carry on that same tradition and values. Long may it be. Chops will never be forgotten."
- Wayne Murphy

Chops shaping in Ireland, early 2000s
Chops shaping in Ireland in the early 2000s

“He surfed all day and then he danced all night. A lover of fine wine, good food, good company and surfing. A friend to many, a legend to us all… RIP Chops.”
Steve England

Chops Lascelles wearing a dust mask in his shaping bay
The glint in his smiling eyes sums up Chops.

“I discovered a place where my soul was happiest and I was fortunate to be here when surfing was in it’s infancy right through to the modern sport it is today. I had some great times, had some great waves and met some great people along the way… it’s been one hell of a ride!”
Chops Lascelles

* This year's Rioja Classic raised an incredible £7866 for charity - our best year yet and taking the total raised for charity over the last ten years to over £30,000. Thanks to everyone who was a part of the weekend and helped us to raise such a huge amount by having a good time in Chops' memory.


All colour photos (apart from the Wavelength photo) by Alex Williams and shared with permission from his "Endless Summer" Evolution of Surfing Facebook page.

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