The GJ Interview with Nathan Fletcher

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We call this piece "Super Super Stoked" because that's what Nathan Fletcher is. Are you? Maybe you will be after reading the Ghetto Juice Interview with Nathan Fletcher. Interviewed in March by Skip Snead. Check it out!

Ghetto Juice: So what’s up, going for a surf?
Nathan Fletcher: Yeah it’s small. There’s little runny lefts. We’re going to Creek. Greyson’s meeting us there.

GJ: Nice. So you’re over here for a quick trip?
NF: Yeah, for two weeks. To bring the grom over to meet all the family, do my deal with you, catch up on that, some stuff with Surfer’s Journal. Check on my house, start getting it together over here all nice so my kid can come here in the summertime and enjoy it. You know, do the NSSA and whatever else kids do.

GJ: Rad you can start turning him onto the things that your parents turned you onto as a kid.
NF: Yeah I get to turn him on to being turned on. That’s why I’m super super stoked. I mean, I’m stoked. Everybody’s stoked. We’re all stoked.

GJ: Have your folks got to spend much time with him yet?
NF: Yeah but he was in ICU when my mom was there, and my dad stayed and hung out with him but he’s four months now. He can actually say “Agoo”.
(Christian: And he was sticking his tongue out a few minutes ago, too)

GJ: So right now you and your brother are running around like a couple groms. And you are.
NF: Yeah, but we’re not four months. I mean, we could tag him along and stuff for sure, but he needs to be with his mom until he’s three.

GJ: What have the last four months been like being a parent?
NF: Well, the day he was born it was 25 feet at Alligators and that guy Kirk Passmore passed away right across the street from our house at Alligators, and that night Adela’s water broke five weeks early, out of nowhere, and that was just incredible that he died right there and that night we went into labor.

GJ: Life and death on the North Shore, that’s heavy.
NF: Yeah, and then the surf went flat for two weeks and we were in ICU for little kids for two weeks. And as soon as we got out there was a huge Pipe Swell and then the waves fired off through Christmas, and then my mother-in-law came and helped us take care of the kid, and I did, but I got to surf and sleep…. She left a few weeks ago and now we’ve come over here, me and Adella, to be around her family and mine, it’s been insane.

GJ: How did you come up with the name, Lazer Zappa?
NF: Because after Cappa! (Nate’s best friend Anthony Cappa who passed away in 2004). Cappa would always tell me I reminded him of Frank Zappa and I never really knew too much about the guy and about eight years after he passed I was missing Cappa and was all, man, I wonder what this Frank Zappa was really all about and I looked into him and was like, “Holy S#!t!” So instead of Cappa we just went to Zappa, and also because the Lazer Zap surfboard design. Plus there were no other words to come after Lazer because it’s such a strong word, you know?

GJ: Yeah that’s a powerful name for a kid… Do you remember being a little kid?
NF: Yeah I sure do. I remember breaking my leg skiing and having a cast to my hip when I was three years old and getting the chicken pox under my cast. And then Christian would take my crutches from me so I’d have to scoot around and chase him on my butt in my cast. And then two months after that my appendix bursts and almost died. I turned four in the hospital, I remember that. I remember all sorts of stuff; going to Hawaii, going to Kauai when I was five or six with my dad and my brother and Dane (Kealoha) and Michael Ho.

GJ: How old were you before you realized how heavy a crew you were rolling around with as a grom? Who your family was and who they were in the surf world?
NF: Took me until I was 30 years old to figure that out. Well, how gnarly my dad is.

GJ: What are some of the early sessions you remember having with your family?
NF: Well we went to Santa Cruz for the NSSA, it was the only trip we ever took in a motorhome. I was about eight years old, Christian was about however old, and the waves were huge at Pleasure Point. We’re coming down the coast, me, my mom, my dad and my brother, get to Rincon and it’s firing, like six to eight feet, Well, it was so good … when I get excited I gotta take a shit, right?
(Christian: Yep.)
NF: So my dad paddles me out and it was big for an eight year old. I’m all, “Dad I’ve gotta take a shit!” And he’s like, “man, go in on the rocks, just go handle it and come back out.” But I was too scared that I was gonna get out and not be able to make it back out, and I didn’t want to get out of the water because the waves were so good. So my dad paddles out to the outside after he tells me to go to the rocks, so then he catches a wave and passes me and then he’s paddling back out and he’s all, “So what? What’d you do? Did you go handle it?? What’d you do?” I told him I shit in my wetsuit.

GJ: OMG!!
NF: And he’s all, “fark!” He rips my wetsuit down to my waist and starts rinsing me out, ya know, at Rincon in the middle of winter.
GJ: No way!
(Christian: Yep, true story.)

GJ: Any other stories?
NF: Yeah, do you remember when the video camera flew off the table onto the ground?

GJ: At the Pipe House?
NF: Yeah, when you came over that time, you had a video camera and we were at the Pipe House, and you came down and we were downstairs. I think it was during the Rusty Pipe Pro years. You set your camera down on the bar and we were all gonna sit down at watch TV and it flew off the table and smashed onto the ground.
GJ: I do. That was weird. That house has some history.
NF: It was just crazy. I can say that because you were there. Sounds farfetched.

GJ: What else do you remember from the glory days at the Pipe House?
NF: I just remember being terrified of Gerry’s mom, Fumi. Because Christian and I had to take care of the house, and all the gnarly guys would come by and you can’t tell them to wipe their feet, or to not piss on the toilet seat. So if Gerry’s mom would show up we’d be in trouble. It wasn’t even mellow. It was like… on our tippy toes.

GJ: Did you like the 80s?
NF: Yeah man, that was right when I was coming into my prime, 10 to 15 years old. 1985-‘90.

GJ: What comes to mind when thinking about that time in your life?
NF: Monsters of Rock, L.A. Coliseum. Metallica, Van Halen, everybody … I didn’t go to the US Championships because I had a broken arm, and I made my parents to take me to L.A. Coliseum to see Metallica in the middle of the day, and there were 60,000 people and a riot broke out when For Whom the Bell Tolls came on. I asked Kurt Hammett about it and he said that was probably the best concert they ever had. He said they didn’t even know if Van Halen and those other bands knew who they were at that time and he said, after that, they were tripping. People were throwing metal barricades into the crowd. The whole floor was plastic chairs zip-tied together and it was 12 noon when it started with Black Rose and then Metallica at 1 o’clock. Well, when For Who the Bell Tolls came on, everybody took those zip tied chairs and started whipping ‘em. It was so gnarly.

GJ: Seemed like you were always the grom rolling with the older crowd, Herb and his friends, your grandfather and his, your older brother and his friends. You didn’t hang with my other groms back then.
NF: Yeah, Christian was always the youngest and I was even younger than him, you know.

GJ: What always impressed me about you was that you’re always stoked no matter what size the waves are… from two to two hundred!
NF: Well everybody says these things, about being a big wave surfer, this and that. I try and tell them, I don’t consider myself that because I come from like Poche or Doheny or San Clemente, Capo Beach … and the only reason I would surf big waves is because that’s the conditions that were there, and I just want to surf in whatever conditions. So being around bigger waves you’re psyched, but I’m just as psyched in about anything. I wouldn’t consider myself a big wave surfer.

GJ: That’s interesting considering you’ve surfed the heaviest wave of all time!
NF: It was purely accidental. Pure fate, and I just can’t even ….

GJ: You told me your life flashed before your eyes on that one.
NF: Yeah.

GJ: Walk me through the beat down?
NF: I was just telling myself “make it” and then once I realized I wasn’t making it I was just saying, whatever dude, I don’t even care if I don’t get barreled or whatever, just kick out the end. And then all a sudden I wrestling with it, I was making it, making it, then I wasn’t making it … and I started falling back into the whitewater, and I was like, “You know, what? Life’s been great.” It was weird…. Andy passed, then Sion passed and the first two trips that Bruce (Irons) and I went on were Fiji, then a few weeks later Tahiti. So I was pretty much telling myself, life’s been great, but people just don’t live through this. I pretty much gave up. I told myself to hold my breath as long as I could and just try to remember which way’s up … it was so violent, for however long…. It was so violent I didn’t even think about it, and then just through all this, like 20 seconds later, it just shot me to the surface and all a sudden I was on top of the water looking around, and I grabbed my head with both hands… I couldn’t believe my head was still connected to my shoulders and that I was alive. There wasn’t another one behind it—if there was another one it could’ve been treacherous.


GJ: Did you know at the time that wave was going to get that much attention?
NF: I didn’t even know I caught the wave. I just went and ate shit and was all scared afterward, all tripped out because I couldn’t believe it. I sat in the channel for an hour before and saw everybody catching waves, so I didn’t know what it was like, I thought it was just like everybody else’s. I got out of the water and everyone was like, “that was the gnarliest thing ever”, blah, blah, blah. I was kinda tripping on how everybody was acting toward me, like respectful people, like Luke Egan and Joel Parkinson; guys I looked up to my entire life. They were giving me hugs and stuff, and I was like, what’s going on here? So I was all tripped out and I left and went back to Papeete with Adela, because we were on vacation, and went back to the Beachcomber and the next day I got a text from Bruce, and I saw a picture of it and I couldn’t believe that was me. I didn’t even know what I did or what it looked like until the next day. I just thought I got a big one like everybody else. I didn’t know it was anything gnarlier than that.

GJ: Yet you don’t consider yourself a big wave surfer. I freakin’ love it!
NF: Well, not in my own eyes, no. I mean, I love to surf and when there are big waves it brings the whole adrenaline thing and all the psych and that’s insane, but I’m from little waves. If I was from the North Shore or from Puerto or whatever and that’s what you grew up doing.

GJ: And you grew up in the OC.
NF: I remember when we were young we’d ride our bike to 204s, me and Christian, and I’d have to sit on the rocks and watch the bikes cause 204 was too gnarly for me.
(Christian just laughs)

GJ: Good times growing up in San Clemente?
NF: Yeah it was insane.

GJ: Let’s go back to the early 90s. You took a break from surfing and focused on some other activities; skate, snow, moto ….
NF: Yeah, well, learning things, to me, that’s when you’re having the most fun. Once you’re good at something that’s when you have expectations and hangups and blah, blah, blah, whatever, so you might be the best guy but you’re not having the most fun. When you’re a little kid, it’s going out and learning stuff, maybe learning how to go big, because that was at a time when jumping and skateboarding was all progressing, so to be a part of that, and all the tricks, that was fun too. But just to be an average person and not have any self-expectations because maybe you’re with the best guys and they rip so hard that there’s not even a chance to be like that so you’re just having more fun pushing your own limits, and they’re stoked to see a surf guy out of his element keeping up and having fun.

GJ: Do you miss being a kid?
NF: I do miss certain things from those times, you know, responsibility-wise and thought-wise or going to concerts and music, the whole scene from being a little kid, and how cool people were, the way they dressed. New designs coming out. I miss all that stuff but you know what, that’s all right now, too, you know what I mean?

GJ: Yeah, so do you still feel like that kid?
NF: Oh yeah.

GJ: Do you find it hard to believe you’re 38 years old and have your own kid now?
NF: Well they diagnosed me with something….

GJ: Who did?
NF: The doctors.

GJ: What!??
NF: It’s called infantitus … where you just stay young forever. So I just tell them I’ve got infantitus. I ain’t ever changing.

GJ: You parents must share some amazing stories with you, but what about your grandpa Walter Hoffman, the man who basically started the surf industry …. Have you wrestled any good stories out of him lately?
NF: Yep. He came to the hospital when Lazer was born. But yeah, we went to New Zealand together on a surf trip, it was cool. We surfed a couple days but drove two thousand miles, checked every spot and he talked about how he used to dive there.

GJ: He’s been everywhere.
NF: Yeah I was telling him about my trip to Indo last year. He’s all, “yeah man, that’s where I blew my shoulder out trying to paddle around the point in 1970” …. So he was telling me about being at Deserts with Tim Watts and how it’s different now, and I was like, “Yeah, Grandpa”….

GJ: Can you imagine being a pioneer like they were?
NF: I can’t … they got to do it all.

GJ: So you told me it took you until you were about 30 to realize how heavy your family is and how far back the Fletcher/Hoffman roots go back … one of the most important surf families in history.
NF: Yeah I kind of never really realized that until later on in life, through reading books and hearing about it. When it’s your family you don’t really know, but like Mickey Munoz or Phil Edwards and this guy or that guy, I just thought they were just normal people, because they were family friends, all the crew down at Capo Beach … I didn’t really know that was pretty much where the surf industry started, Grubby Clark and all that. I just thought they were all grumpy men. I was scared of them.

GJ: Well they saw the sport explode. They saw the first crowds show up….
NF: They invented foam.

GJ: Yeah, speaking of foam. You been shaping, huh?
NF: Yeah I’ve got a shaping room at my house. I’ve done about a hundred boards.

GJ: Nice. What kind of boards have you been shaping?
NF: I haven’t been shaping lately but I’ve shaped all sorts. Mostly just little fun boards. Shaped an 8’1” it was my eighth board I ever shaped, back at Mickey’s place, behind Bret’s, and got the wave of my life at Pipeline on it. It was insane.

GJ: You got a label or anything like that?
NF: Uh, yeah, it’s called Boogie Snorkel surfboards.

GJ: What are some of the things you’re going to be turning Lazer Zappa onto as he grows up?
NF: I’m just gonna throw a helmet on him in the morning, and if we go to the beach, throw a life vest on him and just let him go richter. But I’m going to turn him onto standup paddling at a really young age and get his wave count up high and be able to get around standing up, boom, he’s right out there getting waves and he’s already standing up. Hopefully that will be the way to teach him. And hopefully get him on a skateboard and whatever else comes about.

GJ: Do you see yourself having more kids in the future or is one enough for now?
NF: I don’t know, man. I’m just trying to keep this one alive. I’m going to put everything I’ve got into him and if another one comes, then just be a hundred percent all the way.

GJ: What’s the toughest thing about being a new parent?
NF: Having to think about him when you’re doing anything if you’re not with him. It’s just the thought. Anytime you’re not there and know for yourself … it’s just a thought before any other thought.

GJ: Has it changed the way you approach gnarly waves?
NF: Yeah it’s gonna make me want to … when I take my chances, I’m gonna really want to take ‘em instead of screwing around. It’s like, I’m gonna go out when I’m ready, I’m not gonna go out every time. I’ll probably take it more like, get in and get out, rather than hang out.

GJ: The world’s a crazy place… what are your concerns for Lazer Zappa in the future as the world spins off to God knows where?
NF: My concern for Lazer Zappa would be for him to get mentally distracted by an average conformist, and maybe thinking the way they think is right, instead of being a free-thinking individual. So there’s no chance of that, but that would be my biggest concern though.

GJ: You can just look at what Herb and Dibi did for you as parents and just take a leaf out of their book, all the experiences and what a life they gave you growing up….
NF: Yeah well that’s my biggest job in life is to repay that to my parents for what they did to me, to show them that I appreciate it and I understood what they did, and to give that to my kid and do the best I can. That’s all you can really do.

GJ: When you were a kid did you ever think about what your life would be like when you got older, or became a parent yourself?
NF: I thought all those things. I was so scared. Remember when I went to Tahiti the second time for the contest, and I worked at Astrodeck and all that? And then I won the Airshow and I didn’t have any sponsors, and then after that went to Santa Cruz and did that rotation?

GJ: Of course, the 720 attempt.
NF: No one had ever done that before that, it was the first full rotation documented. And the two I did in Newport, the day the Op was cancelled, the straight air and the rotation … and then I got to go to Tahiti, and that’s when it started and all a sudden I didn’t have to work at Astrodeck no more and I started riding for Gotcha.

GJ: It’s a great story. So have you ever thought about writing a book together?
NF: Yeah, I’ve thought about everything. I’m trying to get something together but I really want to take my time.

GJ: When’s the next Wave Warriors coming out?
NF: 2030 A.D.
(Christian: The end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.)
GJ: You guys working on it right now?
(Christian: Yeah we’ve started working on it, it’s half done.)

GJ: The Wave Warrior movies were the best ever. What’s the name of this one?
(Christian: Global Domination.)

GJ: What are some of the best memories you have from making the original Wave Warriors movies?
NF: Surfing Pipeline, getting to stay at the (Pipe) house, watching Martin Potter…. Having Dane Kealoha come up, show up and go paddle out at Backdoor, or go to Tahiti with him and surf Tae Mae, his favorite wave in the world, or paddling out to Hapete, catching two waves and coming in and smoking a menthol clove with Don King, and Don King would swim out there from the beach …. Me, Christian, Johnny Boy, Michael Ho and Dane … and my dad … and Don King. Or going to Hosoi’s house and skating at W.C. Fields house, and Eddie Reategui. Or going to snowboard with Laird and Gerry and Mike Ho, Jonathan Paskowitz, Derrek Doerner … seeing Laird in hardboots on an asymmetrical board at 8AM right when the lifts would open, from the top to the bottom, hauling ass. So living at the house with Laird and Matt Paul … all the guys would come around. Ronnie Burns would come with his chick, and his chick’s kid was Jamie Sterling and he was just a little kid and he’d come watch Ronnie in the Pipe Masters … Briley, Seth McKinney, Abe Lerner … those were the guys who ripped. And then guys like Jack, Adam and Tamayo … they were all my age, all little kids going to Sunset Elementary. Those were the only groms on the North Shore. Ross Williams. Ronald Hill. Everybody would go to his house. Walter Cerny, Shane Dorian, Kelly Slater … that was sick. Mags, Jason Magellenes. What else was insane? Everything was insane. Justin Roberson just ripping and making Christian go out and surf Pipe, just some kid from Maui. He’d tell me about his younger brother who was my age, and I never knew him until after he died. But that’s Kaleo Roberson and we’ve been friends ever since Justin came to our house (in Cali) and had the accident and my mom had to call his mom and tell their family that their son died and that’s when Christian won the Trestles contest…. Are you getting all this, Skip? It’s coming out rapid fire.

GJ: Got it. So any final thoughts on Wavepools?
NF: Yes, get me into it. I want to be a part of it. More surf.


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 10 Apr 2014 23:07




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We call this piece "Super Super Stoked" because that's what Nathan Fletcher is. Are you? Maybe you will be after reading the Ghetto Juice Interview with Nathan Fletcher. Interviewed in March by Skip Snead. Check it out!

Ghetto Juice: So what’s up, going for a surf?
Nathan Fletcher: Yeah it’s small. There’s little runny lefts. We’re going to Creek. Greyson’s meeting us there.

GJ: Nice. So you’re over here for a quick trip?
NF: Yeah, for two weeks. To bring the grom over to meet all the family, do my deal with you, catch up on that, some stuff with Surfer’s Journal. Check on my house, start getting it together over here all nice so my kid can come here in the summertime and enjoy it. You know, do the NSSA and whatever else kids do.

GJ: Rad you can start turning him onto the things that your parents turned you onto as a kid.
NF: Yeah I get to turn him on to being turned on. That’s why I’m super super stoked. I mean, I’m stoked. Everybody’s stoked. We’re all stoked.

GJ: Have your folks got to spend much time with him yet?
NF: Yeah but he was in ICU when my mom was there, and my dad stayed and hung out with him but he’s four months now. He can actually say “Agoo”.
(Christian: And he was sticking his tongue out a few minutes ago, too)

GJ: So right now you and your brother are running around like a couple groms. And you are.
NF: Yeah, but we’re not four months. I mean, we could tag him along and stuff for sure, but he needs to be with his mom until he’s three.

GJ: What have the last four months been like being a parent?
NF: Well, the day he was born it was 25 feet at Alligators and that guy Kirk Passmore passed away right across the street from our house at Alligators, and that night Adela’s water broke five weeks early, out of nowhere, and that was just incredible that he died right there and that night we went into labor.

GJ: Life and death on the North Shore, that’s heavy.
NF: Yeah, and then the surf went flat for two weeks and we were in ICU for little kids for two weeks. And as soon as we got out there was a huge Pipe Swell and then the waves fired off through Christmas, and then my mother-in-law came and helped us take care of the kid, and I did, but I got to surf and sleep…. She left a few weeks ago and now we’ve come over here, me and Adella, to be around her family and mine, it’s been insane.

GJ: How did you come up with the name, Lazer Zappa?
NF: Because after Cappa! (Nate’s best friend Anthony Cappa who passed away in 2004). Cappa would always tell me I reminded him of Frank Zappa and I never really knew too much about the guy and about eight years after he passed I was missing Cappa and was all, man, I wonder what this Frank Zappa was really all about and I looked into him and was like, “Holy S#!t!” So instead of Cappa we just went to Zappa, and also because the Lazer Zap surfboard design. Plus there were no other words to come after Lazer because it’s such a strong word, you know?

GJ: Yeah that’s a powerful name for a kid… Do you remember being a little kid?
NF: Yeah I sure do. I remember breaking my leg skiing and having a cast to my hip when I was three years old and getting the chicken pox under my cast. And then Christian would take my crutches from me so I’d have to scoot around and chase him on my butt in my cast. And then two months after that my appendix bursts and almost died. I turned four in the hospital, I remember that. I remember all sorts of stuff; going to Hawaii, going to Kauai when I was five or six with my dad and my brother and Dane (Kealoha) and Michael Ho.

GJ: How old were you before you realized how heavy a crew you were rolling around with as a grom? Who your family was and who they were in the surf world?
NF: Took me until I was 30 years old to figure that out. Well, how gnarly my dad is.

GJ: What are some of the early sessions you remember having with your family?
NF: Well we went to Santa Cruz for the NSSA, it was the only trip we ever took in a motorhome. I was about eight years old, Christian was about however old, and the waves were huge at Pleasure Point. We’re coming down the coast, me, my mom, my dad and my brother, get to Rincon and it’s firing, like six to eight feet, Well, it was so good … when I get excited I gotta take a shit, right?
(Christian: Yep.)
NF: So my dad paddles me out and it was big for an eight year old. I’m all, “Dad I’ve gotta take a shit!” And he’s like, “man, go in on the rocks, just go handle it and come back out.” But I was too scared that I was gonna get out and not be able to make it back out, and I didn’t want to get out of the water because the waves were so good. So my dad paddles out to the outside after he tells me to go to the rocks, so then he catches a wave and passes me and then he’s paddling back out and he’s all, “So what? What’d you do? Did you go handle it?? What’d you do?” I told him I shit in my wetsuit.

GJ: OMG!!
NF: And he’s all, “fark!” He rips my wetsuit down to my waist and starts rinsing me out, ya know, at Rincon in the middle of winter.
GJ: No way!
(Christian: Yep, true story.)

GJ: Any other stories?
NF: Yeah, do you remember when the video camera flew off the table onto the ground?

GJ: At the Pipe House?
NF: Yeah, when you came over that time, you had a video camera and we were at the Pipe House, and you came down and we were downstairs. I think it was during the Rusty Pipe Pro years. You set your camera down on the bar and we were all gonna sit down at watch TV and it flew off the table and smashed onto the ground.
GJ: I do. That was weird. That house has some history.
NF: It was just crazy. I can say that because you were there. Sounds farfetched.

GJ: What else do you remember from the glory days at the Pipe House?
NF: I just remember being terrified of Gerry’s mom, Fumi. Because Christian and I had to take care of the house, and all the gnarly guys would come by and you can’t tell them to wipe their feet, or to not piss on the toilet seat. So if Gerry’s mom would show up we’d be in trouble. It wasn’t even mellow. It was like… on our tippy toes.

GJ: Did you like the 80s?
NF: Yeah man, that was right when I was coming into my prime, 10 to 15 years old. 1985-‘90.

GJ: What comes to mind when thinking about that time in your life?
NF: Monsters of Rock, L.A. Coliseum. Metallica, Van Halen, everybody … I didn’t go to the US Championships because I had a broken arm, and I made my parents to take me to L.A. Coliseum to see Metallica in the middle of the day, and there were 60,000 people and a riot broke out when For Whom the Bell Tolls came on. I asked Kurt Hammett about it and he said that was probably the best concert they ever had. He said they didn’t even know if Van Halen and those other bands knew who they were at that time and he said, after that, they were tripping. People were throwing metal barricades into the crowd. The whole floor was plastic chairs zip-tied together and it was 12 noon when it started with Black Rose and then Metallica at 1 o’clock. Well, when For Who the Bell Tolls came on, everybody took those zip tied chairs and started whipping ‘em. It was so gnarly.

GJ: Seemed like you were always the grom rolling with the older crowd, Herb and his friends, your grandfather and his, your older brother and his friends. You didn’t hang with my other groms back then.
NF: Yeah, Christian was always the youngest and I was even younger than him, you know.

GJ: What always impressed me about you was that you’re always stoked no matter what size the waves are… from two to two hundred!
NF: Well everybody says these things, about being a big wave surfer, this and that. I try and tell them, I don’t consider myself that because I come from like Poche or Doheny or San Clemente, Capo Beach … and the only reason I would surf big waves is because that’s the conditions that were there, and I just want to surf in whatever conditions. So being around bigger waves you’re psyched, but I’m just as psyched in about anything. I wouldn’t consider myself a big wave surfer.

GJ: That’s interesting considering you’ve surfed the heaviest wave of all time!
NF: It was purely accidental. Pure fate, and I just can’t even ….

GJ: You told me your life flashed before your eyes on that one.
NF: Yeah.

GJ: Walk me through the beat down?
NF: I was just telling myself “make it” and then once I realized I wasn’t making it I was just saying, whatever dude, I don’t even care if I don’t get barreled or whatever, just kick out the end. And then all a sudden I wrestling with it, I was making it, making it, then I wasn’t making it … and I started falling back into the whitewater, and I was like, “You know, what? Life’s been great.” It was weird…. Andy passed, then Sion passed and the first two trips that Bruce (Irons) and I went on were Fiji, then a few weeks later Tahiti. So I was pretty much telling myself, life’s been great, but people just don’t live through this. I pretty much gave up. I told myself to hold my breath as long as I could and just try to remember which way’s up … it was so violent, for however long…. It was so violent I didn’t even think about it, and then just through all this, like 20 seconds later, it just shot me to the surface and all a sudden I was on top of the water looking around, and I grabbed my head with both hands… I couldn’t believe my head was still connected to my shoulders and that I was alive. There wasn’t another one behind it—if there was another one it could’ve been treacherous.


GJ: Did you know at the time that wave was going to get that much attention?
NF: I didn’t even know I caught the wave. I just went and ate shit and was all scared afterward, all tripped out because I couldn’t believe it. I sat in the channel for an hour before and saw everybody catching waves, so I didn’t know what it was like, I thought it was just like everybody else’s. I got out of the water and everyone was like, “that was the gnarliest thing ever”, blah, blah, blah. I was kinda tripping on how everybody was acting toward me, like respectful people, like Luke Egan and Joel Parkinson; guys I looked up to my entire life. They were giving me hugs and stuff, and I was like, what’s going on here? So I was all tripped out and I left and went back to Papeete with Adela, because we were on vacation, and went back to the Beachcomber and the next day I got a text from Bruce, and I saw a picture of it and I couldn’t believe that was me. I didn’t even know what I did or what it looked like until the next day. I just thought I got a big one like everybody else. I didn’t know it was anything gnarlier than that.

GJ: Yet you don’t consider yourself a big wave surfer. I freakin’ love it!
NF: Well, not in my own eyes, no. I mean, I love to surf and when there are big waves it brings the whole adrenaline thing and all the psych and that’s insane, but I’m from little waves. If I was from the North Shore or from Puerto or whatever and that’s what you grew up doing.

GJ: And you grew up in the OC.
NF: I remember when we were young we’d ride our bike to 204s, me and Christian, and I’d have to sit on the rocks and watch the bikes cause 204 was too gnarly for me.
(Christian just laughs)

GJ: Good times growing up in San Clemente?
NF: Yeah it was insane.

GJ: Let’s go back to the early 90s. You took a break from surfing and focused on some other activities; skate, snow, moto ….
NF: Yeah, well, learning things, to me, that’s when you’re having the most fun. Once you’re good at something that’s when you have expectations and hangups and blah, blah, blah, whatever, so you might be the best guy but you’re not having the most fun. When you’re a little kid, it’s going out and learning stuff, maybe learning how to go big, because that was at a time when jumping and skateboarding was all progressing, so to be a part of that, and all the tricks, that was fun too. But just to be an average person and not have any self-expectations because maybe you’re with the best guys and they rip so hard that there’s not even a chance to be like that so you’re just having more fun pushing your own limits, and they’re stoked to see a surf guy out of his element keeping up and having fun.

GJ: Do you miss being a kid?
NF: I do miss certain things from those times, you know, responsibility-wise and thought-wise or going to concerts and music, the whole scene from being a little kid, and how cool people were, the way they dressed. New designs coming out. I miss all that stuff but you know what, that’s all right now, too, you know what I mean?

GJ: Yeah, so do you still feel like that kid?
NF: Oh yeah.

GJ: Do you find it hard to believe you’re 38 years old and have your own kid now?
NF: Well they diagnosed me with something….

GJ: Who did?
NF: The doctors.

GJ: What!??
NF: It’s called infantitus … where you just stay young forever. So I just tell them I’ve got infantitus. I ain’t ever changing.

GJ: You parents must share some amazing stories with you, but what about your grandpa Walter Hoffman, the man who basically started the surf industry …. Have you wrestled any good stories out of him lately?
NF: Yep. He came to the hospital when Lazer was born. But yeah, we went to New Zealand together on a surf trip, it was cool. We surfed a couple days but drove two thousand miles, checked every spot and he talked about how he used to dive there.

GJ: He’s been everywhere.
NF: Yeah I was telling him about my trip to Indo last year. He’s all, “yeah man, that’s where I blew my shoulder out trying to paddle around the point in 1970” …. So he was telling me about being at Deserts with Tim Watts and how it’s different now, and I was like, “Yeah, Grandpa”….

GJ: Can you imagine being a pioneer like they were?
NF: I can’t … they got to do it all.

GJ: So you told me it took you until you were about 30 to realize how heavy your family is and how far back the Fletcher/Hoffman roots go back … one of the most important surf families in history.
NF: Yeah I kind of never really realized that until later on in life, through reading books and hearing about it. When it’s your family you don’t really know, but like Mickey Munoz or Phil Edwards and this guy or that guy, I just thought they were just normal people, because they were family friends, all the crew down at Capo Beach … I didn’t really know that was pretty much where the surf industry started, Grubby Clark and all that. I just thought they were all grumpy men. I was scared of them.

GJ: Well they saw the sport explode. They saw the first crowds show up….
NF: They invented foam.

GJ: Yeah, speaking of foam. You been shaping, huh?
NF: Yeah I’ve got a shaping room at my house. I’ve done about a hundred boards.

GJ: Nice. What kind of boards have you been shaping?
NF: I haven’t been shaping lately but I’ve shaped all sorts. Mostly just little fun boards. Shaped an 8’1” it was my eighth board I ever shaped, back at Mickey’s place, behind Bret’s, and got the wave of my life at Pipeline on it. It was insane.

GJ: You got a label or anything like that?
NF: Uh, yeah, it’s called Boogie Snorkel surfboards.

GJ: What are some of the things you’re going to be turning Lazer Zappa onto as he grows up?
NF: I’m just gonna throw a helmet on him in the morning, and if we go to the beach, throw a life vest on him and just let him go richter. But I’m going to turn him onto standup paddling at a really young age and get his wave count up high and be able to get around standing up, boom, he’s right out there getting waves and he’s already standing up. Hopefully that will be the way to teach him. And hopefully get him on a skateboard and whatever else comes about.

GJ: Do you see yourself having more kids in the future or is one enough for now?
NF: I don’t know, man. I’m just trying to keep this one alive. I’m going to put everything I’ve got into him and if another one comes, then just be a hundred percent all the way.

GJ: What’s the toughest thing about being a new parent?
NF: Having to think about him when you’re doing anything if you’re not with him. It’s just the thought. Anytime you’re not there and know for yourself … it’s just a thought before any other thought.

GJ: Has it changed the way you approach gnarly waves?
NF: Yeah it’s gonna make me want to … when I take my chances, I’m gonna really want to take ‘em instead of screwing around. It’s like, I’m gonna go out when I’m ready, I’m not gonna go out every time. I’ll probably take it more like, get in and get out, rather than hang out.

GJ: The world’s a crazy place… what are your concerns for Lazer Zappa in the future as the world spins off to God knows where?
NF: My concern for Lazer Zappa would be for him to get mentally distracted by an average conformist, and maybe thinking the way they think is right, instead of being a free-thinking individual. So there’s no chance of that, but that would be my biggest concern though.

GJ: You can just look at what Herb and Dibi did for you as parents and just take a leaf out of their book, all the experiences and what a life they gave you growing up….
NF: Yeah well that’s my biggest job in life is to repay that to my parents for what they did to me, to show them that I appreciate it and I understood what they did, and to give that to my kid and do the best I can. That’s all you can really do.

GJ: When you were a kid did you ever think about what your life would be like when you got older, or became a parent yourself?
NF: I thought all those things. I was so scared. Remember when I went to Tahiti the second time for the contest, and I worked at Astrodeck and all that? And then I won the Airshow and I didn’t have any sponsors, and then after that went to Santa Cruz and did that rotation?

GJ: Of course, the 720 attempt.
NF: No one had ever done that before that, it was the first full rotation documented. And the two I did in Newport, the day the Op was cancelled, the straight air and the rotation … and then I got to go to Tahiti, and that’s when it started and all a sudden I didn’t have to work at Astrodeck no more and I started riding for Gotcha.

GJ: It’s a great story. So have you ever thought about writing a book together?
NF: Yeah, I’ve thought about everything. I’m trying to get something together but I really want to take my time.

GJ: When’s the next Wave Warriors coming out?
NF: 2030 A.D.
(Christian: The end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.)
GJ: You guys working on it right now?
(Christian: Yeah we’ve started working on it, it’s half done.)

GJ: The Wave Warrior movies were the best ever. What’s the name of this one?
(Christian: Global Domination.)

GJ: What are some of the best memories you have from making the original Wave Warriors movies?
NF: Surfing Pipeline, getting to stay at the (Pipe) house, watching Martin Potter…. Having Dane Kealoha come up, show up and go paddle out at Backdoor, or go to Tahiti with him and surf Tae Mae, his favorite wave in the world, or paddling out to Hapete, catching two waves and coming in and smoking a menthol clove with Don King, and Don King would swim out there from the beach …. Me, Christian, Johnny Boy, Michael Ho and Dane … and my dad … and Don King. Or going to Hosoi’s house and skating at W.C. Fields house, and Eddie Reategui. Or going to snowboard with Laird and Gerry and Mike Ho, Jonathan Paskowitz, Derrek Doerner … seeing Laird in hardboots on an asymmetrical board at 8AM right when the lifts would open, from the top to the bottom, hauling ass. So living at the house with Laird and Matt Paul … all the guys would come around. Ronnie Burns would come with his chick, and his chick’s kid was Jamie Sterling and he was just a little kid and he’d come watch Ronnie in the Pipe Masters … Briley, Seth McKinney, Abe Lerner … those were the guys who ripped. And then guys like Jack, Adam and Tamayo … they were all my age, all little kids going to Sunset Elementary. Those were the only groms on the North Shore. Ross Williams. Ronald Hill. Everybody would go to his house. Walter Cerny, Shane Dorian, Kelly Slater … that was sick. Mags, Jason Magellenes. What else was insane? Everything was insane. Justin Roberson just ripping and making Christian go out and surf Pipe, just some kid from Maui. He’d tell me about his younger brother who was my age, and I never knew him until after he died. But that’s Kaleo Roberson and we’ve been friends ever since Justin came to our house (in Cali) and had the accident and my mom had to call his mom and tell their family that their son died and that’s when Christian won the Trestles contest…. Are you getting all this, Skip? It’s coming out rapid fire.

GJ: Got it. So any final thoughts on Wavepools?
NF: Yes, get me into it. I want to be a part of it. More surf.

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