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He was burned-out and decided surfing wasn't his path. For nearly five years, he focused instead on music, motocross and anything else that kept him stimulated. But while working in the warehouse, he'd see old friends such as Chris Ward and Cory Lopez come in to pick up products before contests and trips. He realized he was through with being his parents' "whipping boy."
Nathan's now a professional vagabond, traveling the globe in search of big swells and spending weeks and months at a time on the North Shore. Despite his late-in-life success, he gives much of the credit to his family, particularly his father.
"He's the gnarliest guy by a mile," Nathan says. "I try to tell him that; I don't know if he ever hears me. To have your dad be your hero—in the water, out of the water, as a man, as an innovator—I was fortunate."
While Nathan's surfing career is flourishing, it's Greyson who's getting the hype these days. An adequate-enough surfer, his real talents are on a skateboard. "He has a surf style," Herbie says. There are numerous videos on YouTube of the youngest Fletcher racing through bowls, climbing and flowing across walls, grinding the lip, and punctuating the rides with seemingly effortless air maneuvers that stretch 3, 4, 5 feet above the concrete ledge. Through it all, Greyson remains composed, his face expressionless.
Another Fletcher is writing his chapter in the family's rich history. They have a shared past of being grounded in the moment, while remaining perpetually forward-thinking.
"Do you live life looking in the rearview mirror?" Christian Fletcher asks accusingly. At 40, he's a prime candidate for a past worth re-visiting—from revolutionizing surfing to shunning the pro scene to drug use to his patchwork of tattoos to a year living in Bali with his son.
"You got to keep playing, keep pushing," says Herbie, trying to explain the family's successes and failures. "If you slow down, you get old."
The risks don't always lead to rewards, and the new ventures don't always work out, but "that's just life," as Dibi is known to say. Lives lived at the pace of the Fletcher family produce their fair share of scars—some visible, some not. It takes a lot to rattle a Fletcher.
Case in point: On the same day Herbie and Christian left for a book launch in New York City, Nathan caught a flight to Jalisco, Mexico. He was among a small group of surfers chasing a large incoming swell to a spot called Pasquales.
Two days later, Herbie and Christian were back in California, working at the Astrodeck offices. Nathan, it turned out, had lost his wallet and his passport and was stranded—and he couldn't have been happier. The swell lasted longer than expected, and he had 10-foot waves almost to himself.
"He called me and told me how happy he was. He said, 'If I wouldn't have lost my passport, I would have missed this,'" says Dibi. "He just asked me to cancel his credit cards."
This article appeared in print as "Keeping Up With the Fletchers: Herbie Fletcher & sons Christian and Nathan, plus grandson Greyson."
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