Born in Pasadena in 1948, Herbie Fletcher began surfing at age nine. An alumnus of Huntington Beach High School, he was a semifinalist in the 1966 World Surfing Championships. By the end of the 1970s, Herbie had purchased Astrodeck (a maker of non-slip coatings for surfboards), founded Herbie Fletcher Surfboards in Dana Point and was among the leaders of the longboard resurgence. His creation of a peel-and-stick version of Astrodeck turned the brand into the sport’s best known accessory utilized by nearly all of the world’s top surfers.
In the mid 1980’s Herbie Fletcher ventured into surf videos, releasing Wave Warriors, a series of promotional videos for Astrodeck followed by theAdrenaline Surf series. In the winter of ’85, Herbie gathered together surfers and surf photographers in front of his house at the Banzai Pipeline for the first of what has become a three decade long tradition to promote his latest film. The images have become an iconic collection chronicling surf’s unique history.
Herbie was on the vanguard of the tow-in surfing movement, riding 25-foot waves at Waimea Bay on his Kawasaki Jet Ski. When he started launching his modified Jet Ski in front of his house at Pipeline, it would prove to be a game changer.
Fletcher had been towing son Christian into waves on the California coast since 1976, but flying over mountains of water at Second Reef Pipe and speeding down the line at Maaleaa opened a new frontier, giving surfers access to monster waves that had been considered unridable before. In 1987, years before Laird Hamilton popularized the technique, he towed in Martin Potter, Tom Carroll and Michael Ho into 12-foot waves at Pipeline.
Leader of the Fletcher surf dynasty, Herbie’s wife Dibi is daughter of surf industry icon Walter Hoffman and sister to two-time World Champion Joyce Hoffman. “As a husband and soul mate, I knew the moment I met him on the beach at Makaha when I was thirteen, he had the greatest imagination,” she stated. “It hasn’t been easy livin’ a life going against the grain, it’s been fantastic!”
Herbie encouraged his oldest son Christian to take his skateboarding maneuvers into the surf, when all others scoffed at the idea, and expose the world to aerial surfing. While Fetcher’s fearless approach to big wave exploration infected son Nathan with an enduring passion to push the limits in surfing, skateboarding, motocross and snowboarding. Both were shamelessly promoted in their father’s videos.
As a grandfather, Herbie’s love for skateboarding and his surfer’s approach to conquering concrete terrain was naturally engrained in grandson, Greyson, while his enthusiasm for surfing and art is already influencing grandsons, Lazer and Jetson, as they start to discover their own paths to adventure and fun.