As 2015 comes to a close, sadly another true ambassador in the Stand Up Paddle world has lost his life doing what he loved.
Husband and father of three, 51 year old Andy Frye went paddle surfing Christmas Eve, never to return. After searching foggy days and nights, his body was recovered three days later but his soul will always remain among the waves that were home to him and where he found great joy and peace.
A few of Andy’s friends share their thoughts and memories:
I first met Andy at his house after a surf session and we had a bbq and just hanging out and this was years before I even started paddle surfing. One of my first experiences out there Andy was was like “get out of the way dude, you’re in my way.” He was 100% paddle surfer and found it more rewarding than short board surfing. The GulfCoast waves are mostly small and mushy so its a great place for paddle surfing. Andy definitely helped me and a lot of others get into the sport. I consider him a silent ambassador for the sport. He didn’t do it for the notoriety or money, he was just passionate about it. The sport totally changed his life so much and he would literally stay awake at night knowing if there was a bit of moonlight he was paddling. He’d text everyone that “we going midnight paddle surfing under the moon light” and he was the one guy that was actually crazy enough to do it. There are tons of crazy stories behind this man. We did tons of stupid things, he and I. We both enjoyed fishing so we started fishing off our boards together on calm days. We went a couple miles off shore and I was on an inflatable and he had a pretty big rig set up. I remember saying “what are you doing man?” and he said “I’m going after sharks.” So here I am on an inflatable 2 miles offshore and boats were coming up to us wondering what we were doing out there being a bunch of idiots. We ended up having a pretty good day. We got a couple of bonita and that was the first time catching that on light tackle.
On windy days I like to kiteboard and he’d be paddleboarding, fussing up a storm because it’s hard to catch waves in 25 mph winds. We always had a dream of doing a big down winder where I’d be on my kiteboard and he’d be on the SUP and we’d go from Okaloosa 20 miles down to Nevarre Beach. He decided to make the run on his own one time but never had a good game plan in place and ended up being stuck out there trying to hitch a ride home. I think his wife finally tracked him down and picked him up. Andy just took life by the horns and made it happen. He truly was going after it. He was totally dedicated to the sport of paddling. It was his life. It’s what he did and what he was all about. If you are going to go out doing something you love then that’s something to be celebrated. I want to thank Andy for what’s he’s done showing me everything about the sport and if it weren’t for him I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it because it was so frustrating getting into, not being able to do the things they were doing. It was tough but he kept the drive and determination going. He was the one paddle surfer that would get in the lineup with the regular short boarders and I’m sure he pissed a lot of them off but he was catching waves and that’s what it was all about for him.
He just wanted to be in the water. A true waterman through and through. He’ll always be a dear close friend. It can happen to anybody. I think more importantly we need to look at this and celebrate what he did and not dwell on the fact that we’ve lost two paddle boarders this year. Both paddleboarders have been so passionate and dedicated to the sport and making it their life and I think that is something we can all get behind and support and not look at what if’s. Maybe it could have been avoided, who knows….I’m not saying that. Our prayers are with you Andy and your family at this time. It is quite unfortunate to happen on Christmas Eve but we’re always thinking about you and we’ll paddle out for you brother.
Andy, you were a true waterman. You helped and influenced so many people. I can not even count the numerous people you brought to the sport of SUP Surfing. It will be hard not seeing you working your way down the beach wearing your camel back catching lefts down the beach. You will truly be missed in your home line up my brother. I will always be looking for you to drop in on me and say.... Man your doing good at the same time cutting me off. I will always remember your smile and our conversations. RIP bro! Till we ride the waves again my friend!
Headed to the pier this morning where I caught a lot of waves with my friend Andy. He didn't make it back into the beach after heading out to surf big waves yesterday. He was the first guy I saw charge big surf on a paddle board and he was very much at home in big/heavy Gulf Coast conditions. The surf was well overhead yesterday, the exact conditions you would expect Andy to be out rippin and smiling. As I stood on the pier and looked out at the spot he was last seen, the place where so many of us come to play in the water, I thought about the last time I got to surf with Andy and I smiled and walked back to my truck. I will miss you buddy. The lineup will never be the same brother. I will think about you every time I paddle out there, and I will always catch a few just for you.
A Tribute To Andy Frye | Stories Told and the Untold by Doug Adams
All that knew and paddled with Andy Frye share the serious sadness and profound significance of seeing the board without the man in the froth of surf on Christmas Eve. Thus begins the mystery of Andy Frye. Not sure when I first met Andy but in the last year I got lucky to know the man -where else – but in the Gulf. Andy was a student of the Gulf – from number 7 to his favorite spot by the pier. It was his playground of surf, fishing, cruising, treasure hunting or just relaxing and philosophizing. I was determined to learn to paddle surf and when I found my board I found Andy as my mentor. After work in summer of 2015 I would launch in the Gulf and most often see a unique silhouette in the distance. When we closed in Andy would say“thought that might be you” and I would say “knew that was you.” Then the lessons began. Andy had a unique paddle style of moving feet and stories told- his “happy dance” of SUP. He would say “If you can surf here – you can surf anywhere “ lessons of traveling lean. Always alert, watching and interpreting conditions, backpack, sea anchors, mission planning, and survival gear. He had the respect of the sea while comfortable within. After riding some “bumps” he would send me some texts of encouragement. One of my favorites “all you need is that one tee shot down the middle, brings you back every time, HAHA Lotta fun!” One day after I was riding some bumps and totally worn out - I found a DogHouse Surf Shop sticker on my truck. Andy not even around - yet I knew he passed me on to the minor league of paddle surf. One day in July he was “text tempting” me at work, “I’ve been at the pier since around noon, had it all to myself. I was just about to get out, but just noticed a rainbow over the crab trap. That means God was having fun watchin meHa!” Andy loved to live in the moment and share the experience until the next day or night paddleYes 24 /7 SUP with calculated respect for the sea. He was a pro- one reason we are all in disbelief now. We just don’t know – the Story Untold.
by Lori Griffith