THE TOP 16 SURFERS OF ALL TIME

posted by / Magazine / August 30, 2004

Performance. That’s all we’re talking about. No Dukes. No Blakes. No Freeths. No Docs. These are the 16 surfers who made history by leaving it behind; the ones who stopped trimming and started tearing. Who discovered entire galaxies in the span of a single ride and, connected together, took surfing into a whole new universe. They’re the guys who, more than anyone else, opened our eyes to what riding a wave can be at it’s very best. And most importantly — what it will be.

CHRISTIAN FLETCHER
“I’m always wondering what he’s trying, cause that’ll be what’s coming next…in about five years time.”–Andy Irons

“I wanna go off; I wanna fly the biggest airs I can do. I wanna find my limits, because I don’t think I have any.” In 1991, in an era when a lot of guys on tour surfed like corroding robots, it was the coolest thing anybody had heard in a long time. Christian surfed how we all dreamt it could be: FUN. In ’89, his part in Wave Warriors 4 was almost too much to handle. To an obscure speed metal song by the band Gadnium, he opened our eyes blasting air combos, stalefish grabs, flowing through tubes and hippie-style hair whips out of meaty layback snaps. We were ready to burn our contest jerseys for good (unless, like Christian, we pull down 30 G’s clicking ollies in the Lowers comp). People loved him and people hated him. His stance was wide, his style raw — we thought he was sponsored by the heavy metal radio station KNAC. With support of his pop, Astrodeck inventor Herbie Fletcher, there were new videos of him coming out all the time. There was Supernatural, Tweak Freaks, Savage Beast and we had to have them all. How else were we to know how to do a frontside boardslide or a mute alley-oop? And not in some kook, sports coach kinda way, but just ’cause you wanted to “surf how you feel.” How else were we to enjoy each session, even when falling trying new stuff, even when dudes told us we sucked? Christian’s one of the greatest ever, because he knew.

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