The Rebel Abides

Christian Fletcher, the rebel without a cause

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.