Stab Magazine | The High Art of Being A Fletcher

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The High Art of Being A Fletcher

Dibi Fletcher gets her due on Madison Ave.

style // Aug 7, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Through Herbie’s antics, Christian’s airs, and Nathan’s desire to jump out of helicopters into giant surf, Dibi Fletcher is the tie that binds the eclectic Fletcher institution together. Swing into the Astrodeck warehouse in San Clemente on any given day and you’ll probably find her juggling the business affairs and loading orders while Herb plays with broken surfboards and Christian literally juggles in the back. 

Gritty, salty, wonderful and the matriarch of one of surfing’s most influential families, Dibi’s roots go deep—deeper than just about anyone. Raised on the beach halfway between Dana Point and San Clemente, daughter of Walter Hoffman, her “uncles” literally created the surf industry as we know it today. 

Her dad was in the textile business and Hoffman California Fabrics largely supplied the materials early surfwear was made from.

“Grubby [Clark] lived right next door while he convalesced from having back surgery,” Dibi recalled in an old interview. 

Dubbing themselves the “Poche Surf Club,” Grubby was living with a guy named Wayne Schaffer at the time, who was also renting a room to Phil Edwards. It was while Grubby was recouping from back surgery that Hobie Alter propositioned him to work on developing a recipe for foam surfboard blanks. Thus, Clark Foam was born and surfboards changed forever.

“Hobie started the Hobie Cat there. Phil Edwards used to come there and refine the design of da Cat. It was this surf enclave,” continued Dibi. “John Severson would come there. All of these people that are now these iconic figures in the surf world congregated next door at the bachelor’s house, so I grew up with all of these people.”

Her sister, Joyce, grew up to be one of the most pivotal female surfers of the era. With her own Hobie model and a legit sponsorship from Triumph, she played a critical role in breaking down the door for women in surfing.

When Dibi was just 14 she met Herbie Fletcher, who was 17 at the time. They married in 1969, lived on the North Shore, had two boys, Christian and Nathan, and the saga continues to this day. 

Over the last few years Dibi’s dedicated herself to writing her stories down—and there are plenty of them. Her book, “The Fletcher Family: A Lifetime In Surf,” is just coming out, and true to form, Dibi tells it like it is.

On Thursday night at the Gagosain gallery in New York City, the new exhibit celebrating the book launch will open. “The Fletcher Family: A Lifetime In Surf” exhibit is sure to be, in the immortal words of Herb, “bitchin’, man.”

“The practice of the artist . . . is no different than that of the surfer, who inscribes his or her self in the ocean—a bigger canvas could not be engaged, defining their humanity in the most personal way, using themselves to draw their lifelines through the massive fleeting freedom of that power. The power and majesty of the sea—Herbie shared that with me and with my family as well as his own,” says Fletcher family friend and renowned artist Julian Schnabel.

Besides just the family yarn, Dibi’s new book details time spent with luminaries such as Gerry Lopez, Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys, Kelly Slater, and Steve Van Doren, of the Vans. 

“To commemorate the publication of the book, Gagosian will install artworks from four different series by Herbie Fletcher at 976 Madison Avenue,” describes the Gagosain’s website. “Alongside these works will be an installation of ephemera—including photographs, posters, sketches, maps, surf magazines, boards, and memorabilia—accumulated from the family’s life of surfing.”

They’re also going to be hosting a screening of Nathan’s new film Heavy Water.


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