Endorfins, Kelly Slater’s Latest Venture

Kelly Slater has had an impact on surfing which rivals that of any sportsperson in history. In the water, of course, he has been the greatest surfer we’ve ever seen, putting together a ridiculous resumé which includes a completely absurd 11 world titles. Out of it, he’s had every big as significant an influence, enjoying long and successful partnerships with some of the biggest brands in surfing. As the years go by, however, he’s beginning to develop more of his own products, and in December that’s set to continue with the release of Endorfins. Before we get into that, however, let’s have a look at what’s led him to this point.

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Kelly’s long list of professional partnerships

Kelly Slater’s signature has, unsurprisingly, long been hot property for surfing and lifestyle brands around the world. Over the last three decades in which he has stamped himself as the pre-eminent surfer in history and one of the greatest sportspeople of all time, Slater has been affiliated with no shortage of big names.

From 1991, one year before he started the ridiculous reign of success which saw him win 11 world titles in 20 seasons, Slater began his long partnership with Quiksilver, a relationship which endured for 23 years and, in Slater’s own words, played an integral role in his development both professionally and personally. This association, however, was far from an exclusive one. In fact, it wasn’t even the longest one that Kelly was involved in throughout the most successful part of his career. That honour goes to board makers Channel Island, with whom Slater was affiliated for a huge 27 years stretching back to even before Quiksilver secured the signature of the future 11-time world champ. FCS was the final long-term partnership he enjoyed during that period, securing his signature not long after they first hit the market in the mid ‘90s and rounding out his repertoire of partnerships in the areas of apparel, boards and fins respectively.

A period of change

As his professional career has begun to ever so slowly wind down, however, what was previously a very stable group of partnerships has been shaken up. In 2014, he left Quiksilver and joined luxury French brand Kering. He collaborated with them to create Outerknown, a menswear brand with an ‘understated approach to design and an overstated approach to quality, cloth and consciousness’. 

He also made a change in his surfboard partnerships, ending his tenure as an officially sponsored Channel Islands surfer in 2015. In that year, Slater’s investment company, EcoPivot, became the majority shareholder of Firewire Surfboards. Obviously his relationship there is a little different – he’s not technically sponsored by Firewire so much as he owns it, and he still rides Channel Island boards, just not in a sponsored capacity. Nonetheless, it’s reflective of another change during what was clearly a transitional period for the world’s greatest ever surfer.

But it wasn’t just his apparel and board sponsorships which changed following his final world title in 2011. In the year after title number 11 he also left FCS, leaving them to rebrand his fins as reactors and v2. Despite the split, at the time Slater announced that he would still continue to use the system, just not in a formal capacity as a partner.

Nearly a decade on, it’s in that space that Slater is soon set to make another move. He played a major role in growing FCS as a global brand, and the most popular fin setup in the world ahead of their main competitors in Futures. Now, he’s set to branch off on his own with a whole new brand of fins which can be used in either the FCS setup, or the Futures one. 

Futures vs FCS

FCS are known for their two different setups, the original of which required screws to attach the fin to the board, and the second of which, the aptly named FCS II, can be slotted in without a screw. The two different FCS versions are somewhat compatible – you just need what’s known as a grub screw to get old FCS fins into the newer setups – but, as virtually everyone who has ever bought a surfboard will know, FCS fins and Futures are not so interchangeable. FCS fins will only go in a board with an FCS setup, and the same applies for Futures fins.

What about Kelly’s fins?

Kelly’s fins, in contrast, will be available for purchase as compatible with either of the two systems. In the coming days, he’s set to launch a new product called Endorfins, a fin created using Airtech carbon twill combined with an ultralight, non-woven carbon veil to optimise the engineered flex patterns. The recycled P.E.T core of these fins contains at least 90% air and has zero water absorption which means, as you may be able to guess, that they are super, super light – so light, in fact, that they float on water.

Of course, while there will be Endorfins available for Futures setups and Endorfins available for FCS setups, there still won’t be any interchangeability. If you buy Endorfins compatible with a Futures setups, you won’t be able to use them in a board with an FCS setup, and the same goes in reverse. It does, however, mean that there will be sets of Endorfins available for every board out there, so if you love them you can use them exclusively, no matter which board you have.
Kelly Slater has, it’s safe to say, had a pretty accomplished career, and not just in the water. His corporate partnerships have been long, successful and with some of the biggest brands in surfing, but as his professional career in the water winds to a close, his career out of it is becoming less about sponsorships, and more about creating his own products. Endorfins, due for release on the 15th of December just in time for Christmas, is the latest of these, and is set to make plenty of waves in the fin market.