Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Surfing [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
He Ain't No Angel


20 years after he made his aerial statement by winning the Body Glove Surfbout, Christian Fletcher's back on the beach at Lowers.
Christian Fletcher's never been afraid to speak his mind. I don't know if brash is the right way to describe him, maybe his old man, Herbie, sums it up best, "Radical people are radical, man."

But now, after a long, strange trip to Bali, the brink of hell, and back, after rewriting the course of surfing with his frontside punts, Christian's home in San Clemente, "getting some new teeth," he says.

A few couple weeks ago my wife and I were taking our Sunday stroll down on the beach with our daughter when Christian and a herd of moose, who were equally, if not more tattooed than he, approached. Like a scene out of a cheesy punk rock pulp comic, my wife grabbed my hand tight and my baby wept as the ominous crew scuffed by with dark cloud overhead.

"Did you see that guy?" she asked.

"Yeah babe, no sweat, that's Christian Fletcher," I said. "Dude's gnarly."

I proceeded to get into it with her, explaining how Christian helped put San Clemente on the map 20 years ago, and digressed into his whole sordid relationship with the surfing establishment.

Photographer/filmer Jon Steele's been paling around with Christian this spring, and the two connected for this interview. Love him or hate him, he always has something to say.