Fletcher, Nathan

Pedigreed goofyfooter from San Clemente, California; a world-class aerialist early in his career, then a fearless rider of big, dangerous waves. Fletcher was born (1974) in San Clemente, the scion of an influential surf-world family that includes older brother Christian, the sport's heavy metal aerial pioneer; father Herbie, longboard maestro and surf accessories manufacturer; aunt Joyce Hoffman, twice world-champion; and grandfather Walter Hoffman, big wave original and textile magnate.

Fletcher learned to surf as a toddler, was riding serious waves on the North Shore at age eight, and starring in surf videos not long after. At 16, tired of the public scrutiny that in part came with the family name, Fletcher quit surfing to focus on snowboarding, motocross, and skateboarding, and over the next five years achived high-competitive-level proficiency in each. In 1998, he jumped back into the surfing limelight with a gutsy performance at the Gotcha Tahiti Pro, held in bone-crushing conditions at Teahupoo.

Though Fletcher had been known primarily as an aerialist, he soon began appearing in photos and videos riding oversized waves in Hawaii, Fiji, and Central California, and helped spearhead the big-wave paddle-in renaissance in the mid-'00s. In early 2009, Fletcher broke his femur while surfing in Hawaii, and was out of the water for seven months; nonetheless, later that year, he won Surfer magazine's Heavy Water Award. In October 2011, photos of Fletcher getting swallowed whole by a backless Teahupoo monster during the "Code Red" swell—the "heaviest wave ever ridden," according to Surfer—turned up on seven different surf magazine covers worldwide, all in the same month. Asked how he survived the ensuing wipeout, the normally reticent Fletcher told Men's Journal "things just went the way they always do for me, which is fantastically incredible."

Fletcher starred in These Colors Taste Like Music, a 2002 biopic; in 2009 he starred in Lavase Los Manos. In 2012 he walked away with the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Award for his Teahupoo monster a few months earlier.