Freddy Patacchia’s house is falling into the ocean!
Story by Elliot Struck | Photos by LaserWolf Winter ain’t even started in Hawaii yet. But last night, at Fred Patacchia’s beachfront Sunset home, his pool fell into the ocean. See, below Freddy’s pool there’s a drop down to the sand, where a miniature shorepound eternally licks. Over summer, the lapping shorebreak eats away at the sand. Simultaneously, […]
Story by Elliot Struck | Photos by LaserWolf
Winter ain’t even started in Hawaii yet. But last night, at Fred Patacchia’s beachfront Sunset home, his pool fell into the ocean. See, below Freddy’s pool there’s a drop down to the sand, where a miniature shorepound eternally licks. Over summer, the lapping shorebreak eats away at the sand. Simultaneously, sand builds up at Pipeline. At the start of winter, the first big west swell to hammer in pushes the sand off the reef and down the beach, down to Freddy’s house. It builds back up over winter until the start of summer. And, repeat. But this year, the erosion has been worse than ever, and with no big west swells yet, it was only a matter of time until something really fucking inconvenient happened. Last night, it happened. Freddy’s pool cracked and collapsed.
Liam McNamara lives one house back from the beach along the same stretch, and was assessing the damage this morning. “I’ve lived here for 25 years and lived in that house for 23 years,” he said. “And every year we get the erosion, but this is the worst I’ve seen it. I’ll probably be beachfront soon.” Liam spoke to the Department of Land and Natural Resource, who told him they’d be looking at building a rock wall along the stretch, similar to the one at Off The Wall, but won’t be able to do anything like that til after surf season. Which means nature’s gonna have to take its course, at this point. It could be a tough winter.
Freddy’s currently in Peniche, as he’s been brawling in the Rip Curl Pro. Seeing pictures of your house falling into the sea while you’re in another country would stir a new kinda helplessness. But like the absolute gentleman he is, Freddy took Stab‘s call and conveyed an attitude that really just shows how to handle a less-than-ideal situation like a man. Read on for a life lesson…
Stab: Oh, Freddy!
Freddy: I’m doing alright, y’know, I’m staying positive. It’s not that big of a deal, it’s only a fucking house. Life could be a lot worse. Everyone’s healthy, everyone’s got all 10 fingers and all 10 toes, so I can’t complain about much.
What an attitude! How extensive is the damage? Right now, half of my pool cracked off and fell into the ocean. My pool’s 10 feet deep and last year was the first time I’d ever seen underneath my pool from the erosion. This year it got even worse. Then just this morning, it eroded to a point where the pool cracked and fell down the beach. It’s a 20 foot drop on a lot of the houses along Rocky Point. The foundation is still being undermined as we speak. So a whole other spot of it, where my stairs down to the beach are, is now gone, along with a palm tree. Fuck, I could wake up tomorrow and the front part of my house could be gone. It’s not that bad right now, but it could potentially get worse. We’ve gotta get the pool off the beach because it’s littering and it’s a safety hazard for anyone on the sand. I have to personally pay to get that fucking thing outta there.
How does something like this happen? During the summertime the lapping shore is what really eats away at it, for five months straight. It builds up this wall, then the wall erodes away and it slowly gets to where my pool is. I’ve owned this house for the last 10 years, and last year was the worst I’ve ever seen it. This year it’s obviously the worst it’s ever been. Natural erosion is something you’re never fully prepared for, or think is gonna happen to you until it actually fucking happens to you. But it’s not from big waves. It’s the lapping shorebreak constantly eating at it in the summertime. Then if that first big swell is a north swell, it really fucks with us. It’s the big west swells you need. Y’know how everyone says, “At Pipeline, you’ve gotta wait for the sand to wash away”? What happens is, those big wests take the sand from Pipeline and they push it down to my house.
You’re still in the event, but do you wanna go home? I’m gonna finish the event. There’s really nothing I can do about it right now. Seeing those photos was just, holy shit, my heart dropped. But I’ve been talking to my dad, getting a lot of support from friends at home, it’s been cool with people online. I mean, some people are fucking dicks about it, saying shit like “Good for him.” You always get that online. But the positive support has been nice, and what’s been helping is replying to emails and texts. Sometimes you don’t say things out loud but when you say it out loud or you write them down, it really sinks in. You think it’s politically correct to tell people, “Oh, the family’s safe, there’s nothing I can complain about.” Then you say it, you write it down, and you’re like, “You know what? Fuck, I really have nothing to complain about.” There’s a hurricane in Taiwan right now and there’s people in much worse situations than me.
Will this distract you in your heat or make you wanna kill it more? No, it’s pretty distracting. If I were to have my heat today, I was completely unmotivated. I couldn’t even surf today. I’m thinking about it, having a hard time sleeping right now, talking to my dad about insurance and what the state’s gonna allow me to do, to protect my house in the short and long term. It’s not really motivation to do better, I kinda want to get home. But then when I get home it’s like, shit, what am I gonna do, fucking grab a shovel and start shovelling sand back up to my property? What I can personally do isn’t gonna help too much.
You’ve looked ferocious in jerseys this year. It’s funny, a lot of people are asking me what’s changed. People don’t realise what’s going on in your life and what’s affecting your focus. In the last three years I’ve been hurt twice, I got married, I’ve built a new home, and I’ve had my first child. I don’t wanna say those things have been affecting my surfing, but my mind’s kinda been elsewhere. They’re good distractions, but distractions nonetheless. Now, my daughter’s one and half, I’m married, my houses are built, and there’s really nothing else I need to focus on other than being a good dad and surfing.
Brill. So, how’s the insurance looking? To be honest, I don’t think insurance is gonna cover beach erosion on a beach house. I mean, it’s kinda just the pill you’ve gotta swallow when you buy on the beach. It’s not like it was eroding my land, it actually cracked off my pool which was a structure that the state allowed me to put in. If your pool cracks off and your house falls into the ocean, I think they may allow you to build it back. But I don’t know the laws, I’m only 31, I haven’t been in this world long enough to know that shit.
But, owning North Shore beachfront property at 31 ain’t awful. Yeah, I guess. I’m learning what all the old boys that’ve owned beachfront property over the last 50 years have learnt.
Do you feel like you wanna rebuild the pool, or pull the front of your property back a bit? The winter season’s coming up, so I don’t know how much time we’re gonna have to build another pool even if they allow us to. That’s my biggest dilemma right now. But I’d love to rebuild that pool. That pool is… I’ve always wanted to redo it, because it’d be sick to have an infinity pool looking right into the bowl at Sunset with a jacuzzi in the corner. When I’m 50 and retired, I’m not gonna go surf 12 foot Sunset, but I’m gonna sit my ass in the pool and drink a beer and watch my son get shacked.
Freddy’s been a straight-up treat to watch this year. Knifing Tahiti, photo by ASP/Robertson
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