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CHRISTIAN IS CARRYING HIS G R E E N T I M M Y PAT T E R S O N U P A CROWDED BEACH AFTER SURFING IN THE EXPRESSION SESSION O F T H E P A D A N G C U P. He just did “The Zombie” (front-facing, straight-legged barrel stance – his signature daredevil move) through some deep low-tide pits out at Padang. A guy with a microphone stops Christian to interview him on the live webcast. The interviewer asks him the same tired questions: waves, conditions, prize money. Then he lobs one of several hundred clichés that will fill the day’s broadcast: “But it’s not really about the money, is it Christian?” Christian sniffs in the pungent aroma of bullshit and pounces on the poor bastard like a jungle cat. “Of course it’s about the money! I got a family back home. What, are you new around here?” And with that, Christian Fletcher claims the “Only Original Interview Of The Day” award. //

Some guys come to Bali and they barely even surf. They just party or get lost in other stuff. You seem to be really psyched on surfing this trip.

The last couple years I’ve just been surfing every day. I’ve been getting back to the basics, like when I was a kid. I go to the beach, hang out, smoke joints and surf all day on the weekends and every day after work. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been stoked on surfing again. Were you ever over surfing?

It goes through phases. You get burned out. I turned professional in ’85, surfed the Pipe Masters in ’85. So you get burned out on it after a while, especially the way my dad is. My dad was gnarly. He’s dropped in on me and ran over me my whole life. Still does it to this day. If he doesn’t run me over on the wave, he’ll run me over when I’m paddlin’ out. But he made it so I could surf in any crowd and he took me to really good surf spots. And if I got out of line he’d smack me in the head and tell me, get the fuck out of the water you little pussy! And I thank him for that. That’s the best thing he ever could have done for me.

Is there anybody who you watch surfing right now who gets you psyched on surfing?

Eddie Blackwell. The Predator. Gnarliest fuckin’ backside surfer I’ve ever seen. Nobody compares. Not Kelly, none of ‘em. At a big gnarly left he’ll smoke all of ‘em. You know who I’m talking about? That guy with the dreads and…

And no front teeth, yeah. Guy has no front teeth. If you could turn back the clock to any era in surfing history, what era would you want to go back to. Or would you stay in the present?

Life’s good now. I don’t know if I could live through being young again. That was a rough one. I’m stoked where I’m at right now. I think I surf better than I ever have. I ride the tube better. I do as big of airs as fuckin’ anybody. I hate spinning – I think that’s weak – it’s easier. That’s why all the guys do it, ‘cause they don’t know how to do a proper air most of ‘em. ‘Cause if you do a proper air you have to be accountable for your fins when you’re landing in the water. If you land sideways or backwards, you

v don’t. And you don’t have to be over the top your board. You let the wave push you back up on top of your board. That’s why everybody lands sideways and backwards. What about grabs?

Grabs are sick – as long as they’re not double grabs. Like, I don’t want to see my buddy riding down the street with training wheels on his bicycle, you know – kind of embarrassing. That’s how I feel when I see my buddies do double grabs – unless it’s a specific maneuver that calls for a double grab, which there ain’t many. If you could create a wave, what would your perfect wave look like?

The Wedge was created. It ain’t exactly perfect, but it’s perfectly gnarly. It’s the only place I can go around my house where it’s guaranteed you’re gonna get the shit kicked outta ya. They just need to drop the blackball. Or at least give the surfers and the bodyboarders a couple days a week where they can surf. You know what I mean? Trade off. It’s blackball from 10 o’clock to 5 o’clock, no flotation devices allowed. From around March till Halloween. Why is that?

‘Cause of some rich bodysurfers and their fuckin’ lawyers and shit. The Balboa Group. They grew up in Balboa (Island). Their parents are politicians, know what I mean? Yeah.

I had a bodysurfer screaming at me one day, ‘This is body surfing break, this isn’t a surfing break!’ I said, that’s funny, I come out of the tube. You don’t. As far as I’m

concerned it’s a surfing break. Bodyboarders are sick though. I’m friends with all the bodyboarders. Bodyboarders get the biggest, heaviest waves that come through. And the fuckin’ Wedge crew are fuckin’ sick. They’re like Aquaman. How do you deal with crowds?

My dad was worse than any crowd. Surfing around crowds, that don’t bother me. I’ve surfed Trestles, I’ve surfed Pipeline. The crowd at Uluwatu is kinda gnarly these days ‘cause there’s a lot of Russian beginners, so it’s dangerous. I’m a wave catcher, it don’t matter how crowded it is. It’s easier to catch a wave at Pipeline with 60 guys in the water than it is in a heat at the Pipe Masters with four people. How’s that?

‘Cause in a heat there’s interference rules, and fuckin’ people paddling over each other, you know what I mean? With 60 people you can drop in on somebody and deal with it afterwards, you know. It’s just easier. Have you gotten into many scraps over surfing?

Oh yeah. Surfing’s a violent sport; a selfish, violent sport. I was bummed out on it for a long time ‘cause you paddle out and there’s like two people in the water and they’re still giving you dirty looks. I decided to go skateboarding because there’d be like 50 people on the skateboard ramp and everybody’s still like, what’s up! Stoked to see you and stuff, it’s cool. Crowds, I don’t know. I can deal with ‘em. I don’t really care. I catch waves anyway. If it’s fuckin’ crowded I just go surfing at night and I can have any wave I want.

Bali Belly Issue 004