In a somewhat stunning move, the high profile brother trio of Chris, Keith and Dan Malloy announced today that they’re leaving the Hurley label to embark on a multi-year project with Ventura based apparel company Patagonia. The move will obviously catch some by surprise since the Malloy brothers have spent the past 13 years riding for Bob Hurley, first under the Billabong label in the 1990’s, then with Hurley’s own label since its inception in 1999. “Bob and everyone at Hurley has been family to us,” says Chris Malloy, leader of the Malloy clan. “This is by far the toughest decision we’ve ever had to make in our lives, but this move makes perfect sense for us at this point in our careers. Patagonia is a company we have a great deal of respect for because of their support of the environment and other philanthropic efforts, and with their home right next to ours in Ventura it’s really a perfect fit for us going forward.”

The Malloy brothers have forged quite a friendship with Patagonia founder Yvonne Chounard and his son Fletcher, after Keith moved near the Chounards home on Faria Point. The two families have since become close, traveling on surf, fishing and climbing adventures together.

By nabbing the Malloy brothers, Patagonia is breaking a long company tradition of not sponsoring high profile athletes. The message they’re hoping to send through this deal is that they’re quite serious about making headway into the surf apparel market. Part of this arrangement gives the Malloys heavy input over the marketing as well as serious input into products and apparel. “They’ve made weak efforts in the past at penetrating the surf market, and we’ve essentially told them so. But they belong here as much as anyone when you think about it. They do more to support surfers than most other companies combined, and we wouldn’t have made this move if we didn’t feel they were going to make the required steps it’ll take.”

Reaction at Hurley headquarters is understandably mixed today. “Obviously, it’s a little weird,” says Jeff Hurley. “On the one hand we’re sad to see these guys go, but on the other we’re happy for them and wish them good luck.”

The Malloy brothers instantly became the backbone of the Hurley surf team when Hurley launched in 1998. Since that time, however, Hurley’s been successful in picking up a handful of all stars, including Rob Machado and Pat O’Connell, while becoming one of the fastest growing surf industry brands in history. The Malloys absence will likely enable them to go after more surfers. Indeed, there are already rumors that Tim Curran is in talks with Hurley at this very moment.

Bob Hurley is describing the split with the Malloys as “very amicable.” In a press release Hurley expressed his support and “heartfelt appreciation for three guys on an amazing new journey. We have and will continue to respect them as people, surfers, and friends.” –Chris Mauro