Chris ‘Brownie’ Brown Interview from the 2002 Towsurfer Vault

May 15, 2002, / By Eric Akiskalian

Chris Brown      

A.K.A.: Brownie

Pro Surfer

Age: 31
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 170 lbs.
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Years Surfing: 24
Years Tow Surfing: 2


Interview with Chris Brown… Sh_ _! I can’t believe this just happened. 3/4 of the way thru and I accidentally unplugged the computer and lost the entire 60 minutes of content. Sorry Brownie, let’s try this again!
What’s going on?
Both of us LOL and shake our heads…in disbelief!Chris:(A Deep Breath)What’s that saying? If at first, you don’t succeed……try, try again…(LOL)Tell us how your professional surfing career started.
I started competing as an amateur at age 12. In 1988 at age 17, I won the world Junior Championship. I realized this was a prime opportunity to turn pro and I capitalized on it.

What was your highest ranking?
I qualified for the world championship tour in 1993 and competed on it for three years. My highest ranking was 23rd in 1993.
Who were your sponsors?
Channel Islands Surfboards, Billabong, MCD, Victory Wetsuits, Sex Wax, Free Style Watches and Body Glove Wetsuits.
Who are you currently sponsored by?
Channel Islands Surfboards and Body Glove
Where is your career today?
Professionally, I have taken a break, um…. to be with my family, …. surfing wise, I’m still on the cutting edge of performance.
How about that morning you were paddling out at Mavericks? The infamous day when Jay Moriarty got a pitch over the falls on that GIANT wave. You were right there, watching first hand the whole event unfold. What was going on in your mind?
It was HORRENDOUS!!!!First of all….(long pause)… (deep breath)…..that was my first day ever at Mavericks. I paddled out at dawn with a few of the boys and the winds were hauling offshore and the swell was 20+ straight out of the west. The offshores made the waves so critical only a few people were taking off. I didn’t feel up to the challenge so I um… watched from the channel. Jay showed up on a boat and paddled straight to the peak. The very next set that came, he turned around and went on the first wave. He was just charging as the wave hit the reef, the immense force of the wind as the wave jacked held him at the top until the bottom dropped out. At this point, it didn’t look makeable, but he has committed anyway. The situation seemed to get worse by the second and he pretty much fell from the sky and landed on the lip directly on him during impact. Right at this moment, I was thinking to myself, um…I’ve never seen anyone drown and if there was a time, this would have to be it! After impact, the first thing that happened was his board broke in half. As the wave passed, I could see the other half of his board tombstoning in the pit. He was pinned to the bottom at the end of his leash. I later heard this was the first incident where somebody touched the bottom on a wipeout at Mavericks. I was relieved when his head popped up just before the next wave past. After going through that wave, Jay swam to the channel and back to his boat. I was shocked by the intensity of the wipeout and decided to paddle to shore. As I was heading in, I looked over to see Jay waxing up another brand new 10′ 6. I thought to myself this guy is heavy…..LOL….silence for a moment…..pause…….
June 15th marks the one year anniversary of Jays death. What are your thoughts?
(Long Pause)……..I was bummed, I wasn’t a close friend or anything, but since I had been going to Mavericks, I met Jay and surfed with him on a number of occasions. One thing I noticed……(long pause)……um, was his aloha spirit. He didn’t have the ego that a lot of other surfers of his caliber have. He was in the sport for pure reasons and he genuinely loved the ocean and surfing and people and it showed. These are all reasons why I consider him a legend.
What has been your worst wipeout at Mavs?
I’ve had a few of them, but the worst was probably this past January. The wave at Mavericks tends to draw so much water off the reef, that a lot of times it’s hard to get down the face. I got hung at the top and fell through the air and the wave landed on me. It didn’t want to let me up, so I had to climb my leash. Fortunately for me…..(LOL)… didn’t break! The photo, of that wave which Dan Merkel shot, is on the main page of this site.
What has surfing Mavericks taught you, both as Chris Brown and as a professional athlete?
It has taught me about my physical limitations and about respecting the ocean as a force.
You have also started tow surfing. Tell us about your thoughts on this sport and your professional goals for the coming years.
Tow surfing is an extreme part of surfing. It seems to me, um… Nowadays the focus is on extreme sports. There’s an opportunity for older surfers in this sport because the experience is such a factor. I am committed to staying focused on the sport of professional surfing and tow surfing is where my interest lies now. I’ve geared my life around surfing and made a living for years as a professional surfer and let me tell you, it’s the best life in the world.
Who is your tow partner?
I’ve towed with Adam Replogle and Anthony Tashnick. Now, I am teaming up with Josh Bradbury.
What are some spots you would like to tow that you haven’t yet?
I’ve seen pictures of spots that look comparable to Mavericks or Todos and know of others that might be even bigger and heavier. I would like to explore venues like them as well as the main spots.
You surf The Con a lot. Tell us about that wave.
As a wave, Rincon is hard to beat! When you have a low tide and a solid winter swell running, people come from all over to surf Rincon. It has it all! A ride from The Indicator to the freeway is rare but measures about 1/2 mile. Along the way, there are hot dog sections as well as racy barrel sections.
Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from all types of surfers. Where I am from, Santa Barbara, CA, Tom Curren is the man. I grew up watching him win world titles and this inspired me. From local groms to friends like Josh Bradbury and the Mavs Crew. I draw inspiration pretty much from anyone who is passionate about the sport.
What are your turn offs?
It bothers me when surfers are overly selfish and take to many waves. I think it is important to realize the ocean is for everyone regardless of ability and to consider your fellow surfer.
What motivates you?
Now that I am in my thirties, I admire things like longevity in surfing. For instance, there are a lot of good surfers that fall by the wayside. There is something to be said for someone that stands the test of time. Take a guy like Steve Bigler, he’s in his early sixties, I think and he is surfing better than ever. This motivates me!!!!!
You’ve had some personal obstacles that became very challenging. Would you like to share these experiences?
(Long Pause)…….Maybe, but not in detail. If there is one thing I can say, it is to learn from your mistakes, then it’s not all bad. It’s more of a learning experience. I think everyone faces hurdles in their life and everyone makes mistakes. It’s just part of growing and learning about life.
Have any of these experiences changed you in any way and if so, what changes have you noticed?
I can say that when you’re young you get multiple chances, but when your older the consequences of mistakes in life are greater and there are fewer excuses.
Who has played the main role in your life?
My Daughter Chloe who is six years old, My parents….(pause)… Al Merrick and all my close friends.
When I say the word family, what comes to mind?
For starters, there is direct family but I like the Hawaiian sense of family which extends to all loved ones whether blood-related or not.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully prospering in surfing and in life. I want to be with my family and just enjoy life.
Brownie, thanks for stopping by.
Ya E-Bay thank you very much.
(c) 2002 copyright –
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