Christian Fletcher: A Shock To The System

Michael OleszekAnalyst IApril 1, 2009

What the hell's going on around here?

First off-let's take it from the start
Straight out-can't change what's in my heart
No one-can tear my beliefs apart, you can't bring me

You ain't-never seen no one like me
Prevail-regardless what the cost might be
Power-flows inside of me, you can't bring me

Never-fall as long as I try
Refuse-to be a part of your lie
Even-if it means I die, you can't bring me


From the song: You Can't Bring Me Down by Suicidal Tendencies


Christian Fletcher: The epitome of anti-establishment in the surfing world and hailing from a line of surfing royalty, took a dying breed of surfing and gave it a much needed shot in the arm.

Born in Hawaii in 1970, and raised mainly in California, Christian Fletcher received his first surfboard at age one, and was beating nine-year-old kids in surfing contests at age five.

After turning pro at age 14, the kid who could surf as well as skateboard decided to apply skateboarding principals to the water, and aerial surfing as we know it today was born. Nothing like a one-man middle finger in a pink wetsuit to upset the establishment, huh?

I'd be pissed off too if one man could change the way people all over the globe surfed.

Those kids you see now throwing aerials all over the magazines? Kids who want to try aerials before they can stand on a board? Kelly Slater's nine world championships? They all owe that to Christian Fletcher.

In 1988, Christian Fletcher was on the cover of both Surfer and Surfing magazine—at the same time. The more established and conventional Association of Surfing Professionals were pissed. They didn't feel that an 18-year-old kid who surfed his favorite local spot all summer was deserving of such hype.  

The problem was that Christian was having fun while he surfed, turning surfing into a full-contact sport that offered aggression and excitement, while his peers simply did the same boring maneuvers and won contests doing so.

Then, in 1989, came the full upsetting of the apple cart. At a Professional Surfing Association of America event held in Fletcher's own stomping grounds, the Lower Trestles near San Clemente, California; Christian absolutely smoked the competition.

Preparing for the contest by returning to the skate ramps, and playing Nintendo in between surf heats, Fletcher surfed how he felt: raw, unabated and free— everything that surfing should be. He was edgy, wild, and angry. A visually impressive surfer who destroyed opponents psychologically.

All would not be well however, as Fletcher would grow tired of the competitive surfing scene. Amid a bad marriage, being shut out of contests, banned from magazines and blacklisted from the beach, the surfing revolutionary was done and doomed to a path of self-destructive behavior, including drug and alcohol abuse.

By the time he returned, the innovator of aerial surfing could sit back and watch the monster he created, continually fighting with a hypocritical surfing industry—one that singled him out for his surfing his own way, and later promoted the style when the industry realized how much money they could rake in.

Realize this: No matter what Christian Fletcher is doing now; whether it is watching his son Greyson surf and skate, surfing himself for Santa Cruz Surfboards, or taking a break to let the other guys catch up, rest assured that he is doing it his way—shocking the system as he goes.