Chris Malloy: back in the saddle

The former pro surfer, award-winning documentary filmmaker, design and marketing guru, and rancher, opens up about returning to his roots

Chris Malloy is the eldest of the famed Malloy brother trio that burst onto the surfing scene in the mid-90s. For more than a decade he and his brothers Keith and Dan were omnipresent in global surf media. They grew up in Ojai, California, but once the surf bug bit him at 16 Chris abandoned his baseball dreams (both his uncle and cousin earned World Series rings) and moved to the North Shore of Oahu after high school. Once there, he was sucked into a colorful crew of shit-talking friends who just happened to be the best surfers in the world.

He was soon part of an elite big-wave riding crew charging Oahu’s outer reefs with abandon. He would carry his big-wave passion to breaks around the world. Chris earned a cover of Surfer magazine surfing the left at Mavericks, and an invite to the prestigious Eddie Aikau big-wave surfing event. His love for heavy water was matched only by his thirst for adventure. For the better part of 16 years, Chris rarely saw his California home. He was too busy exploring the far corners of the globe.

When he wasn’t surfing, he was usually busy creating. In 1997 he jumped behind the lens for a change and revived the classic surf film genre with his debut film, Thicker Than Water. After winning Movie of the Year at the Surfer Poll he enjoyed a stellar career as a documentary filmmaker. His credits include 180 South, A Brokedown Melody, Unbroken Ground, and Shelter.

When his pro career ended he took a creative job at Patagonia, where he became a vital part of the design, marketing, and retail teams that helped propel the brand from 200 million in sales when he joined, to 1 billion when he left.

Today Chris is back in Central California living on a sprawling ranch, where, when he’s not directing commercial shoots or documentaries, he helps his wife Carla with her fledgling farm-to-table business. In many ways, he’s right back in the saddle, where it all started. And yeah, he’s still getting plenty of waves.

One thought on “Chris Malloy: back in the saddle”

  1. I always enjoyed his films, especially “Thicker Thank Water.” What an incredible big wave surfer. Thanks for sharing his journey, Chris.

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