The Rebel Abides

Christian Fletcher, the rebel without a cause

| posted on April 08, 2014

Above:An EOS Birthday tribute clip from last October, on Christian’s 43rd birthday.

I’ve always had a hard time getting behind Christian Fletcher’s rebelliousness. In surf terms, no child in history was born to a better life. Surfing family, beachfront house, all the gear, all the trips, media, sponsors, adulation, you can imagine. And good-looking in the bargain. So what was he rebelling against, exactly? When he was 16, his mom made him grow his hair out; I remember Christian complaining about that. Damien Hardman won a world title but didn’t charge Hawaii. That bothered him. Ian Cairns—Christian really hated Ian Cairns. It occurs to me now that Fletcher should fall to his knees and give thanks daily to Hardman and Cairns and all the other surf-establishment strawmen that he tilted against all those years. Without them, the rebelliousness would have come down to his mom and the haircut.

Then again…the Jeff Booth letter. If you’re over 40, maybe you remember the amazingly self-righteous letter Booth mailed to SURFER in 1990, complaining about the “guy who spent his summer at Trestles”—Christian—getting “the cover and center spread . . . at the expense of high-ranked professionals.” Booth went on to cite pro tennis as the example to which surfing should follow, and requested that the magazines “use a system of coverage based on [competition] performance.”

I was managing editor at SURFER back then. Easiest decision of the month was to put Booth’s letter at the front of the Post column, at which point I sat back and waited for SURFER readers to slaughter him. Which they did.

Christian Fletcher, at that moment, was a rebel with a very good cause indeed.

  • TowerZ

    Really Matt? It’s hard for me to understand how a representative of Surfer Mag is so out of touch with the reality… You have been involved with the Surf industry over 40 years. You have created some of the best literature in the game. Yet you can’t put your finger on why Christian Fletcher was REBELLIOUS. You draw a conclusion in your article to a hair cut and 2 surfers who stood in the way of a changing guard. Lets take a closer look. Peel back the layers of the onion if you will. Christian Fletcher has and always will be 2 things. An addict and a human being. By nature addicts are against all authority. You say go left and they go right. This is a disease which centers in the mind from birth. FAB. All the materialistic items that Fletcher was born with are irrelevant. I wish there were writers in our industry who didn’t put fluff pieces out for the weak to chew on. Some say Christian is the god father of Aerial Surfing. Others say he is a looser, junky and deserves nothing less than a swift kick to the nuts.

    • cleanSooke

      Why can’t Fletch be both? He is the undisputed godfather of aerial surfing and maybe he’s a junky and probably deserves a swift kick to the nuts.

      He was a douche before being one was “cool”. What he was back then is very much what many aspire to be today replete with the douche wear, tatts and hair cuts.

      He wasn’t the first to have tattoos, weird haircuts, bad attitudes, but he was the first to put all those together and make it to the pro tour. He took a lot of shit for doing airs in contests, sure most were awkward and ruined some of his flow. But it was Fletch that for better or worse dragged the surfing community kicking and screaming onto the path that we are today, clothes, attitudes and airs. He got a lot of shit back then for his “stunts”, so much so he stopped doing them because the judges would mark him down for doing one.

      We have Christian the surfer and Christian the person. I could care less what he did with his life, I don’t have to live with him, care for him or deal with him. There’s a lot of drug abuse on tour and has been in surfing since the carefree 50’s too. Many succumbed to the lure, most of them
      didn’t leave a mark, Christian Fletcher did.

    • christo

      Great accusing someone of not making a point to then not make a point or stand yourself. that s what some might say.

    • TowerZ

      My point was to uncover the truth behind Fletcher’s REBELLIOUS outlook on life which Matt wrote about. My point was to say that Addicts are Rebellious by nature. Sorry my response didn’t clarify this for you. And to clarify for cleanSooke… He is both.

      • Biff

        Learn to spell loser, loser.

    • flashorton

      Jeff Booth, is that you?
      Thanks for peeling back those layers so perceptively and writing off the guy as a junky loser.

  • komaiaboyz

    Godfather of aerial surf that is true, a loser and junky? I don’t know the man, but what I do know was he was surfing circles around “Boothy” et al. at the time Booth wrote his drivel of a letter to Surfer Magazine.

  • ro

    NO MATTER what everybody say… CHRISTIAN FLETCHER was ahead of his time. The surfing now is what Christian was doing 20 years ago. Then judges and surf industry didn’t know what to with what you don’t know. So bow down to the Fletchers you mofos sober kooks

    • Hally

      First time I saw him a rare “who’s that” moment. Brilliant surfer, stand out of his era. Definitely ahead of his time by doing nothing more than being himself, pushing the limit and not the risk free cruising through contests many of his contemporaries appeared to be doing. Judging, a mirror image when soul arch era cool skool surfing gotcha points MP’s off his face massive hacks didn’t count. Same horse different jockey.

  • rehab ray

    Didn’t Jeff Booth have a coke problem?

  • DJS

    “Money and fame doesn’t mean much to those who have it”….rebel without a cause indeed.

  • Old School

    Interesting. Both Boothy and Christian are VERY talented surfers and unique individuals. I can see the argument for both sides. Anyone who rips on Boothy has never seen him surf and/or has probably never been remotely competitive in nature. The person that said Fletcher surfs circles around Boothy must never have seen Jeff surf. He destroyed the lip equally as much as Christian destroyed the air above the lip. Both are due credit where credit is due. It would be like saying Kerzy surfs circles around T-Knox.

  • Kalani Chapman’s Schlong

    A true original. Whether you think that’s good or bad or some combination of both its the way it is.

  • Patrick

    Christian should be at the for front of innovative surfers. He pushed the sport way beyond what the judges even capable of comprehending at the time.