All hail Nathan Fletcher. The hard charger sits atop my list of favorite surfers for his huge airs and underrated roundhouse. Over the last 20 years I have come to know Nate for his dynamic personality and unique approach to surfing and surfboards, which made him an easy choice for my first interviewee. I drove up to his San Juan Capistrano home and met with Nathan, and as we wandered through his board shed I saw one that caught my eye -- a Stretch quad made of cork, bamboo and epoxy. Didn't really surprise me. It's guys like Nathan that help push our sport by taking risks with their equipment and in the water. Who knows? Maybe this is the beginning of the cork era. --Mitch Abshere
Mitch: Does this board have a name?
Nathan Fletcher: Nah, I just call it ugly as all hell.
What are the dimensions?
I don't know. It's a 7'0" and pretty narrow but still has a wide nose and tail. I have an 8'0" that's the same shape and rode that thing all winter but I left it in Hawaii because it worked well there.
Where would you ride this board?
At Pipe from 6- to 12-foot. With this board you can paddle fast enough to catch the waves and it handles the transition at the bottom because of its outline. Once you're on your rail the rocker turns into your outline. If you have a curved nose with a flat rocker it's going to penetrate a steep transition better than a narrow nose with a lot of rocker. It's a smaller board for bigger waves.
How's the flex?
The flex is insane; it really handles well. I got some footage of me riding the 8'0" in Hawaii, and I shouldn't have made this one drop. The outline, I don't know what it is, but you can hit the lip. You can go straight up on an 8'0". Normally you can't pivot a big four-fin like that.
What was the reason Stretch made this board?
The design was linked to the shortboards I have been riding, and this was just an experiment trying to cut down the vibration you get from foam boards when you're riding bigger waves. Foam is rigid, but because this board is made of cork, bamboo and epoxy, it absorbs the bumps better when you're going fast.
How is this board different from your normal board?
My perception of surfboards is so off that I don't even know what's normal. I've had magic boards that are totally different and you get on them and don't even think for a second about it. A shitty board makes you work for it -- as soon as you have to think about it, it's a shitty board. But when you're in the moment you're not worrying about what your board looks like -- it's all about how it feels.