Freddy Patacchia loves smile boards and BBQs!
Words by Jake Howard There’s a lot of talk about the kids these days. What about the vets, the old men, the guys that built this city from rock and roll? Fred Patacchia joined the world tour in 2004. Gabs Medina was nine years old. It’s a vastly different surf world Freddy competes in today. […]
Words by Jake Howard
There’s a lot of talk about the kids these days. What about the vets, the old men, the guys that built this city from rock and roll? Fred Patacchia joined the world tour in 2004. Gabs Medina was nine years old. It’s a vastly different surf world Freddy competes in today. Gone are his frost Hawaiian curls. He looks like a bald prize fighter. But his smile and positive demeanour have remained the same. When Stab found Freddy on an Australian hotel balcony, he sat down with a glass of sparkling mineral water.
“Honestly, I feel good with what I can do,” says Freddy. “There are a lot of things the kids these days are doing that I can’t do, but I feel real confident in my surfing and what I can do. There’s still a place for that in competitive surfing. I just have to work harder and go the extra mile to stay in the mix. For me it’s not about winning a world title anymore, or even being in the hunt, I just have a couple events that I’d like to win before my career is over. That’s my only goal. Tahiti, Fiji and Pipeline, and I’d love to win Portugal. I’ve kind of fallen in love with Portugal.”
At 33, the father of two has spent 11 years on tour. That’s a lengthy career for any tour surfer. In hindsight, if he had the opportunity to give any advice to 22-year-old rookie Freddy, what it might be?
“The rookie me wouldn’t listen to the veteran me, I know that already,” laughs Freddy. “I wouldn’t really tell him much. I’ve had a lot of fun on tour and I still do. I think that maybe I could have taken it a little more serious when I was part of the new school at the time. I maybe would have told myself that in those early years your window of opportunity is very short, so I guess I would have told myself to take three years and really have a stab at it. But doing that kind of stuff is difficult. I’ve seen Owen (Wright) really give it 110 percent and he still got third that year. It’s great to get third, I remember it, but hardly anybody else does. Or the year Jordy (Smith) got second, I mean, if you’re not really winning ‘it’ you’re just filling numbers. My entire career I’ve taken the approach that I wanted to have fun. I wanted to meet different people around the world. If a local guy invited me over for a barbecue and beer I always went. Always. But it’s changed, and I see it in kids these days. They don’t do anything. They just surf. They’re up at 5:30 surfing no matter what.”
And while he may be enjoying barbecues —he is Hawaiian after all—rather than gunning for one last run at a world title, there’s still fight in his spirit.
“I want to stay on tour and be competitive for as long as I possible. I’ve seen guys retire early like Bruce (Irons), Kalani Robb, Bobby Martinez, and I would love to see those guys on tour still. I think people would still really enjoy watching them surf. They still shred. I want to do this as long as I can, as long as I’m still beating guys. I mean, it’s 30 minutes; I can beat anyone in 30 minutes.”
In 2014 Medina became the first goofyfooter to win a world title since CJ Hobgood in 2001. Between the goofy connection and the Brazilian uprising, Freddy’s taken note of where the future may be headed.
“The Brazilians are really hungry, and I think with Medina leading the charge and winning that title it’s shown their entire country that it can be done — that there can be a Brazil world title. Medina’s pretty rock solid at every wave on tour, but Filipe is getting there as well. And he can do every air that Medina can. And to Filipe’s advantage he’s a regular-footer. People forget that CJ Hobgood and Occy were the last goofyfooters to win world titles. I thought it was pretty mind-blowing and incredible. It gives me hope.”
Freddy in the sweet spot, Rio. Photo: WSL/ Kelly Cestari
When asked if there was a wave out there he’d like to see on the contest schedule he doesn’t hesitate:
“I would love to go to a place like Pasta Point in the Maldives. I think it’s a world-class venue. A guy like Medina would absolutely slay it. It’s like Snapper in reverse. I’d love for us to go there. A little shuffling in the deck with all the locations could be a good thing. It keeps the surfers on their toes, you actually have to change up your equipment, and I think the fans really enjoy watching the best guys in different waves.”
And when it comes to his equipment, Freddy opens his wallet and pays for all of his boards himself. He goes through about 40 boards a year, a small number by comparison to somebody like Kolohe Andino, but by now he’s figured out what works.
”For about the last eight years I’ve been buying all of my boards. I pay for them myself. Then I’m not committed to one shaper and if they’re not working I pack my shit and I bail. I tell every shaper I approach that if the board works I’m going to ride it, if it doesn’t I’m moving on. And I’ll pay for it, no worries. Then if you get one magic board that wins you a couple heats, it pays for your entire quiver for the year.”
As far as his last batch of boards, like so many surfers he’s tapped Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolos. And, he wants the same shapes as Carissa Moore.
“I asked Matt for a Carissa model because Carissa puts it on rail, full on. She is an aggressive rail surfer. I look at her boards and I’m like, man, she’s really throwing those things around.”
He’s also adding what he calls “smile boards” to his arsenal.
“I’m ordering Brewers, Mark Richards, and other different stuff. Jake Paterson and I call them ‘smile boards’ because you can take them out no matter what and have fun. We were renting soft tops on the Gold Coast and just getting in the ocean. Smile boards are where it’s at. They’re boards you’re going to have forever. I’m hardly a hipster, but those guys that ride them seriously and actually shred them, that’s like their shortboard to my shortboard, so I’m like a total kook…and that makes me feel kind of good.”
As far as a curtain call, when the time comes to hang up the jersey, Freddy’s a sharp cookie and has planned well ahead.
“I’ve been able to invest in real estate on the North Shore, but I want to stay active in the surf industry.”
His glass of sparkling water is empty and he’s thinking of going to loosen up in the water.
“A lot of my friends are doing it,” he concludes. “Joel Centio’s working with Hurley, Sean Moody’s working with Billabong, Jason Shibata’s working with Volcom, Kekoa Bacalso is with Rip Curl, so a lot of my friends are still in the industry and I’d love to work with them. I talk to Ross Williams a lot too. You can look up to surfers that shred and that’s great, but for me longevity is a big motivator. I want to live the surf life forever, and I’m just trying to figure out how to keep it going.”
That fury! Photo: WSL/Smorigo
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