After a decade on Tour, Fred Patacchia seems to be surfing on a higher plane than we’ve seen in a while. He’s had a few narrow losses—his current mid-tier ranking doesn’t necessarily reflect his revamped approach—but Fred’s optimistic about the outlook of the season. Below, he talks about honing his game, the current state of the World Tour, and speaking his mind.
Although you're rated around 19th on the Tour this year, it seems like you're surfing with a lot more fire than before. What's changed?
Well, I'm getting a little older and a little wiser. But there are a lot of things pushing me now. I'm training really hard and eating really clean, have good boards, family behind me—all that stuff. But the real thing is that I'm essentially pushing myself harder. When I first got on Tour, it was all rock and roll. Just show up to your heat and surf. I wasn't training, just surfing. And I was stoked to be there. I couldn't believe it. It was like making the Tour was good enough. But now, I'm really pushing myself to surf and compete at my best. I think you have to do that these days if you want to stay on. The vibe has changed so much since I got on. You have guys with trainers, dietitians—that was pretty much unfathomable just a few years ago. But it's raised the bar and if you want to continue competing, you've got to raise your game.
Yeah, you look fit and you’re surfing seems to be sharper than ever.
I'm working with Kid Peligro on the North Shore but it's more than just working out. I've switched my diet up a lot and that's been really effective. I can't eat McDonalds and expect to go win a heat anymore. The older you get, the harder you have to train and really upkeep your body. It works. Look at how far Taylor Knox and Kelly have taken their game by taking care of their bodies. That being said, I'll have a cheat day and binge on ice cream every once in a while.
Being someone who's been on Tour a few years and having seen the transitions you just spoke about, I'm curious to get your perspective on all of the changes to the new ASP.
So far it's been really good. All things considered, I think most people are really stoked. The webcast and the events have all improved, and I think that's a good thing for the surfers and fans. There are a few things that I would have liked to see change that didn't. The judges are still the same. I think it would have been a good move to inject some new blood in there if you're making all of the other changes. But all in all, it's definitely been good and I really hope it works.
How are you feeling about your performance so far this year?
Well, I feel like I’m surfing my best all-around. Not just in a heat but in my freesurfs at well. But to be honest, I try not to focus too much on my rating but more on doing well at certain events. I really look forward to surfing at Fiji, Pipe, Teahupoo, and Portugal. If I don’t do well there, I’m a lot more frustrated than if I didn’t do well at a wave like J-Bay.
In the European leg of the Tour last year, we got word that you almost lost your home on the North Shore due to coastal erosion. What's the latest with that?
Yeah, well, it wasn't really my whole house, but my pool. It was pretty crazy. I found out about it through a text message so it was kind of harsh to hear about it that way. I saw my dad talking about it on the news later on that night and I felt pretty helpless being so far away and seeing it on the news. But there's not much I could have done about it anyway. I'm working with the county to get something going, but when you're dealing with Mother Nature, sometimes you just got take a breath and realize that some things are truly out of your hands.
You were also dealing with an ankle injury last year. What's the status of that?
It's gotten a lot better and feels solid. I still have to work on it to ensure that it stays strong, but it's good. As you get older, you have to follow up on stuff like that. You can't rehab for a month and just forget about it. You have to keep doing it. But it's all good. I'll just watch Game of Thrones and work on it then. So it's minor and feeling good.
I think that a lot of people really love to see your post-heat interviews because you come across as being a little more real and uncensored than some other surfers. Have you had that feedback from fans or other surfers?
Yeah, to be honest, I love the post-heat interview because it gives me a chance to talk to the fans and address the sport. I get super bummed if I lose a heat, but not only because I lost, but because I don't get to do the post-heat-win interview. Sometimes people think I'll say too much, but I'm never gonna stop speaking my mind. I don't always say what people want to hear, but it's important for me to say it.
If you were to retire over the course of the next five or so years and the ASP asked you to take a job commentating, would you do it?
Ha! Well, I’d be interested because I love the sport and love being a part of it. But I’d only do it if they wouldn’t censor me and would let me call it as a I see it. Yeah, that could be fun. As long as I got to call it as you see it and inject some brutal honesty in there from time to time.