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Corky Carroll peels back the layers to Herbie Fletcher

 Herbie Fletcher : photos courtesy


Herbie is originally from Huntington Beach

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 16 April, 2010 : - - A lot of times, when the zillions of great surfers to come out of Huntington Beach gets talked about, they forget to mention Herbie Fletcher. That is probably because he has lived in the southern end of Orange County for so long that unless you were around in the 1960s you might not even know that Herb came from here.

He, along with his older brother John, went to Huntington Beach High School a couple of years after myself, John Boozer and Tommy Leonardo. His parents were friends with mine and used to hang out on the pier together watching our heats when we were competing in the U.S. Championships.

When I took over running the Hobie Surfboards surf team around 1965, one of the first young dudes I recruited to surf for us was Herbie Fletcher. We had some really great young talent in those dayst hat included Herbie Torrens, George Weaver and Billy Hamilton, as well as Fletcher. As a junior he won numerous events and was a semi-finalist in the World Championships in San Diego in 1966 at about the age of 16 or 17.

Toward the end of the 1960s, Herbie fled the California contest scene and moved to the North Shore of Oahu, where he made a solid name for himself charging surf of all shapes and sizes. He was probably most well known for his adventurous side slipping, letting his fin pop free and slipping down the waves sideways in some pretty heavy surf conditions. I don't know of anyone that is better at that move than Herbie.

He would eventually marry Walter Hoffmans' younger daughter, Dibby, move back to the Dana Point area and open his own surfboard business. Having a great imagination and zest for coming up with new stuff, Herbie came up with "Astrodeck," a textured adhesive tape that would act as a wax replacement for surfboards and other decks. Today's tail pads would be an example of the heritage of Herbies invention.

Along the way, he and his wife's uncle, legendary big wave maverick Flippy Hoffman, got into riding jet skis during big swells on the outer reefs off Capistrano Beach. This led Herb to actually surf huge waves at Waimea Bay on his. And this led to towing surfers into giant waves outside Pipeline and Jaws on the island of Maui. Herbie was at the front of that whole scene. Jumping a big wave on his jet ski also broke his back one day. That only slowed him down awhile, though.

Today, Herbie lives in San Clemente with his wife and superstar surf sons Christian and Nathan. I got to surf with him a couple of months ago at a great spot down in Mexico and we had a gas. He is still stoked and pushing and smiling and being the cool guy that he is and always has been. He is one of the real success stories when it comes to local surfers from Huntington Beach.

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Corky Carroll

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