The Emperess of Astro Deck!
We are proud of the surf accessories we stock here at Aqua. In this post we are lucky enough to talk with Dibi Fletcher- "Da Empress of Astro Deck!" Remember to take a "selfie" of yourself picking up trash on our beach and post it on Instagram tagged with #aquasurfshop, this enters you for a chance to win an Astro Deck traction pad!
If you've been surfing all your life, chances are nobody in your circle has paid for it more than your mom. Like a drug or a cult, it takes you on a ride in life that can look insane to an outsider. Sneaker waves, undertows, Jaws, melanoma- I mean what's not there for a mother to love, right? "I want my kid to be a surfer", said no mom ever, anywhere, for the most part. They see we love it and tell themselves maybe it's just a phase, it could be worse, and before they know what happened sandbars are natural features in the shower. Unlike say, soccer, it's a life-shaping pursuit that influences everything from career to geographic location as the childhood hobby grows into adulthood and beyond. Because our moms love us, they stuffed the fear, endured our Spicoli phase, and accept the sport as a part of who we are. That's a really cool thing and for that we are grateful.
In tribute to all that surfing moms put up with because their sons and daughters are hopelessly hooked, I thought it would be cool to check in with a woman whose family has been so thoroughly ravaged by the surfing disease, that doctors suspect there may be a genetic component. Q&A time with the queen of the Fletcher clan, DIbi Fletcher.
AP: Did you know what you were getting into when you first met Herbie and decided to start a family? In your wildest dreams could you ever have envisioned that this family of yours would go on to become an absolutely iconic force in the history and future of the sport?
DBF: I ran away from home with Herbie when I was sixteen. We were both high school dropouts, and there certainly was no great far reaching plan. We were dumb kids, no dough, no education, WOW!
AP: You grew up surrounded by the golden age of California surfing. You then went on to marry one of its stars and together formed a company serving the industry, Astrodeck. When your sons Christian and Nathan were born, did you ever hope that maybe they would choose a conventional career path for whatever reason?
DBF: My father and his brother were well known surfers in their day. My sister was the women's world champion in 65' & 66'. I grew up on the beach in Capistrano surrounded by my Dad's friends who were all entrepreneurs responsible for what is now called the "surf Industry". Herb and I did what seemed natural and went on to create products, films, tow-in surfing and other things that helped push the sport into the future. We took the kids with us everywhere and they loved it, maybe there was no choice for them, maybe they completely lucked out???
AP: A lot of pros crash and burn. The pressure of success, failure, the whole rock n roll lifestyle thing proves too much for many. Did you worry about these pitfalls when the boys were growing up and making names for themselves? As a mother, how do you raise your sons to keep an even keel when the wild world of pro surfing opens up to them?
DBF: I'm sure most anyone bothering to read this has probably heard many half true stories about Christian and has already made up their mind.
AP: What was it like raising two incredibly gifted pro surfers for sons, from the perspective of parent fearing for their children's well-being? I imagine stitches were a fairly common accessory around the house, and it's not like the boys are just going out and pearling softtops into sand either. These kids of yours were doing crazy shit on surfboards even then, over reefs and waves of serious consequence. Surfing, at a high level and pushed to extremes such as in your family, is definitely up there on the danger scale, so how did you cope with this reality as a parent?
DBF: It's hard to imagine how my sons could have been any different then they were. I was raised in a world of thrill seekers and I didn't know any different, so it seemed perfectly natural for them to push the boundaries.
AP: Any injuries to your sons that were serious enough to make you seriously question what you are letting your boys do? Did you ever doubt your own judgement as a parent for letting them pursue a sports pro dream?
DBF: The boys were fortunate and didn't get injured too severely. Herb on the other hand, ate it pretty bad on quite a few occasions, broken backs, ripped rotator cuff, collapsed lung, crushed hip, femur broken in over one hundred places,,,I could go on, why bother. Life is was it is- suck up up the bad times and make it work. I would rather have them all doing what they love and being their best and pushing the envelope every chance they get, then being afraid to engage fully. If it's your time, it's your time, and the shit will find you whether you're hiding of flying, so give it your all!!!
AP: Can you even bring yourself to watch some of the crazy shit Nathan is dropping in on these days? What's it like to know your son is at the tip of the spear, among an elite group of pros surfing the largest waves on the planet. Some mix of pride and terror I suppose?
DBF: I’m grateful everyday for Nathan. I think it's fantastic that he gets to live the life he's chosen and I support him 100%. He know's what he's doing, and if it bothers me, I keep my mouth shut. Like I said above, I have faith, whatever the outcome, he's lived his life with honor and integrity, what more would any mom want for her son?
AP: Was there a backup plan in your mind for a scenario in which the whole pro surfing thing failed to pan out for the boys? Were you thinking of that when you and Herbie started Astrodeck?
DBF: We started Astrodeck in 1976 it had nothing to do with what we thought about pro surfing. We had a family that we needed to take care of. Herb had always been a surfboard shaper and when he started fooling around with the product, he felt he had come across something that would revolutionize the surfing experience, giving the surfer more fin and rail control.
AP: "Never mix family with business". This proverb sometimes gets thrown about as if it's some sort of universal truth, yet in most of the world this is a completely normal arrangement. When the surf is pumping, I imagine staffing demands at Astrodeck get strained. How does the whole family business arrangement work for you? Is it ideal?
DBF: I do everything!!! That's how it works.
AP: Thank you for your time Dibi, every time I place an order I really enjoy hearing your radical stories. Aqua customers, come on in a get some Astro Deck traction, we have a full stock of em.