Stab Magazine | 15 years with Freddy Patacchia Jr.

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15 years with Freddy Patacchia Jr.

Story by Morgan Williamson  “I never said retirement! I never used that word,” Freddy P tells me two days after his uncharacteristic exit from the CT. He’s in his car with his two children, their tiny voices chirp in the background and Mr P’s all good vibes. “God, retiring sounds so final, and old. I’m […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Story by Morgan Williamson 

“I never said retirement! I never used that word,” Freddy P tells me two days after his uncharacteristic exit from the CT. He’s in his car with his two children, their tiny voices chirp in the background and Mr P’s all good vibes. “God, retiring sounds so final, and old. I’m not old yet!” he laughs. Fresh off 11 years on the CT, his ‘not retirement’ and his perfect ten for the win, our dear friend is basking in his time off away from the pressure of competition and into he comfort of his family. At 33 years-young Freddy’s flipped a new page and he’s feeling good. The constant grind of the tour’s no more but “I still want to do some QS events, Primes and the Triple Crown,” Freddy assures. “All the guys have been laughing at me like; you want to do the QS? what do you mean you’re on the dream tour? It’s pretty funny. I still want to do select events I just don’t want to be serious anymore.”

You see, Freddy here’s been in the biz for quite some years now. He jumped on the QS around the same time he could legally buy smokes and Hustler mags in the US. “I won Nationals when I had just turned 18,” he tells me, “I wanted to end my amateur career on a high. I’d just signed a contract with Quik and thought I was ready for the big leagues.”

Freddy P slotted

The man of the hour on his backhand reaping the fruits of a frothing drainer. Photo: WSL

If Freddy does one thing right, it’s going out with pyrotechnics. “I don’t know if it was the best idea to jump on the QS that young. I was still a grom. I hadn’t learned how to do big boy turns yet. I spent four years stuck there. Back then the QS was really just a raging party. I was 18 with a contract, all cocky and shit; I had a blast. This was back when Jake ‘Snake’ Patterson was on. Taylor Knox had fallen off tour and did the QS with us. Shane Dorian and Kalani Robb were also surfing events. It was cool surfing with the older guys I had always looked up to. Back then it was me, Bobby Martinez, Roy Powers, Sean Moody, Timmy Reyes… there was this big crew of us on the QS as youngsters causing havoc all over the world.”

“After a few years on the QS you kind of start to doubt your surfing and lifestyle.” Freddy continues. “You get let down, that’s about the time your sponsors start to question your contract, it’s a weird situation.”

freddy P porto

Mr P about to slot up in Portugal, 2010. Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari

For Freddy, leaving the QS was never an option, “I was always dead set on the CT. For me it was all about competition. I was trying to be the next Tom Carroll, Sunny Garcia or Occy.”

“In my generation we didn’t really have a Dane Reynolds or Dave Rastovich. Being a freesurfer wasn’t a thing then. I remember the final heat Rasta ever surfed in South Africa. He had short hair then and rode the same boards as me. With 15 minutes left in his heat he rode a wave in on his belly, that was the turning point. I thought that was so cool, I was like woah you can do that, you can just be a freesurfer? Now a lot of kids don’t even care to surf events. I never had that kind of role model in my life, those guys didn’t really exist.”

After four years on the QS, Freddy landed himself a spot in the top 32. “My rookie year was great,” he says. “Everyone knows I love to have fun and a few too many beers anytime anybody asks!”

“I was overwhelmed when I first made it. Occy, Kalani Robb and Sunny were still on tour. Andy Irons was young, fresh and shredding. He’d asked me to travel with him and Bruce, who’d made the tour the year before me. I was so stoked to be there. I didn’t really care about the competition end of it. I still felt like more of a fan than their peer and competitor. I was just like oh my god this is epic! Occy wants to have a beer with me. Andy wants to take me under his wing, it was surreal.”

Freddy P stall

Photo: WSL

“When I first got on tour it was rock n roll and I can only imagine how the generations were before me. Guys weren’t getting paid that much then. They were in it for the fame, the party and the girls. It was different vibe.”

The Kelly and Andy rivalry was the beginning of the tour starting to change. “Kelly turned surfing into a gentleman’s sport,” Freddy tells me. “He was such a good champion and spokesperson for surfing. Guys started to mirror that type of surfer, rather than the radical Aussies, the crazy Hawaiians and the even crazier Brazilians. The tour’s so straight laced now. I was there to see the full change.”

The death of Andy was the final turning of the CT into what we know today. “Andy going was tough man,” exhales Freddy. “For me personally he was like a brother. Him and Bruce took me under their wing in my younger years. I grew up with them through the amateur ranks. I remember the day in Florida where Bruce beat me up before my heat and made me cry. Then I won, I was being all cocky; Bruce did you win your heat? and he just put me back into a headlock.”

“Andy was the first close friend that I lost,” he continues. “It was the first time I had to deal with anything like that, he was just gone. There was no time to tell him how much I loved him or appreciated him. Every time I surf I say hi to him, for myself because I never got to say goodbye. His death was a change in the surf world. The ASP became a lot more professional after that. They realised some of us need help. Now the WSL provides us with therapists if need be. I talked them when I needed help getting off tour. I’m not ashamed of it. They helped me prioritise my thoughts and made my decision so much easier. And I think with Andy, that’s something that could have been beneficial. Who knows if he would have used it? But the fact that it’s there is great. They’re helping the athletes a lot more. There’s never going be the next Andy. He was so colourful and wore his heart on his sleeve. There has yet to be a surfer who’s more intimidating to surf a heat against.”

“It went from a flat out party to guys being very conscious about what they ate and training regiments,” he continues. “Now you need to have like a fucking entourage,” a contemptuous daddy comes through the receiver. “Sorry, my daughters in the car,” Freddy laughs. “It’s weird you need like a coach, a hat guy, a photographer and a Red camera. Guys on tour don’t connect as much as when I first got there. It’s become more professional. I personally don’t really like it, but that’s just the way it’s going.”

FReddy and gabs

A high five between competitors on Freddy’s final wave on the CT. Photo: WSL/ Sean Rowland

Freddy tells me that thoughts of him leaving the tour started festering at the beginning of the year. “A lot of it had to do with being home with my family. I just really needed time off. You don’t get any time off on tour. If you do, you fall off.” he says. “There’s so many things we want to do with surfing, because we are selfish. If a swell’s hitting Tahiti, it’s like honey I got to go, I need to get barreled. But as of recent I just want to spend time at home and surf with my kids.”

“I’m through the moon on how things worked out with me stepping away from the CT. I ran through my mind how my last heat would go. I would’ve been stoked to end with two sevens and lose that heat,” Mr Patacchia continues. “But to go out with those two waves coming to me was so unscripted. It made it feel like the right decision. The universe just gave me a big high five right there.”

Our conversation fades back into the subject of ‘not retiring’, “The media put that word in my mouth,” he says. “I’m not going to say that until I fully retire from surfing. Like I said earlier, I’m not old yet!”

freddy P sunset

Off into the sunset, looking back with no remorse. Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari

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