THE HOT SEAT: Chris Malloy

Chris Malloy has always been proud of his environmentalist stance and surfing roots. It’s even reflected in the surf films he’s produced, like Thicker Than Water and Shelter. But naturally, the steady rise of tow-in surfing has had a troubling effect on his ethical stance. His desire to ride giant surf and explore new territories has been at odds with his deeper convictions. For a while, it seemed, he would remain a holdout to tradition. But when Kelly Slater invited him out to Cortes Bank recently, Chris couldn’t resist the rope…and yada, yada, yada, now he’s gracing the cover of Personal Watercraft magazine. Imagine his horror when he learned we found a copy. — Chris Mauro

SURFER: How the hell did this happen?

Chris Malloy: Jeez, all I did was let go of the rope…Man, you guys will probably run a shot of me picking my nose, too.

SURFER: Oh please…where’s the trust? We’re buddies.

Chris Malloy: Yeah, that’s what makes it worse. You know you can get away with it. This thing’s called the Hot Seat. Nobody comes out looking good. Sorry but the buddy thing brings me no comfort here.

SURFER: You are a wise man. Well, okay, let’s just clarify your stance on the issue.

Chris Malloy: You know I’ve been pretty skittish about the whole thing for a while. For the last five years I’ve continued to paddle in. So the fact that my first official tow-in outing landed me on the cover of Personal Watercraft, well, it’s kind of ridiculous. I can’t believe it.

SURFER: It’s troubling you?

Chris Malloy: Oh yeah. I’ve been trying to keep it totally under wraps and now you’re outing me…jerk. Just for the record, I didn’t drive once. I never towed anyone. Kelly towed me in all morning then when he wanted to take a stab at it, I just watched him from the boat. I was the draggee, not the dragger.

SURFER: So would that make you more innocent in they eyes of your environmentalist friends, like Yvon Chouinard?

Chris Malloy: Well€”jeez€”I don’t know…probably not.

SURFER: What if you’re just using them for transportation, does that present the same moral dilemma?

Chris Malloy: You mean to get from one side of the lake to the other for a beer run or something?

SURFER: Exactly…or a run out to Todos.

Chris Malloy: I’d say in that case it’s legit because it’s probably doing less environmental damage than a boat would, thought it’s probably pretty close.

SURFER: Your brother Keith owns personal watercraft, correct?

Chris Malloy: Yeah, he and Snips go to Maverick’s and Todos all the time. I’ll go a little bit with Keith and play around in the big closeouts in Oxnard, just to get…

SURFER: Wait a sec! Then Cortes wasn’t the first time?

Chris Malloy: Ah…well…

SURFER: You’re so busted man…you fell right into my trap.

Chris Malloy: Okay, okay I’ll admit I’ve been playing around here and there. But it’s been really hard on some of my friends. Keone Watson pretty much disowned me when he caught wind of it.

SURFER: Really, what did he say?

Chris Malloy: Nothing. We hang everyday but he won’t even speak to me if he knows I’ve been towing in at the outer reefs in the morning. If someone even brings it up he pretends like he can’t hear me. He completely tunes me out.

SURFER: But you and Keone both have a ton of respect for guys like Laird, and they have no problem with it. How are your views different? Where exactly do you draw the line?