Op Honor Roll: November 04

Fred Patacchia Jr. – OAHU, HAWAII

Fourth Place, {{{Honda}}} US Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill

Five years ago, Fred Patacchia Jr. was a puffed-up prizefighter ready to knock out the World Qualifying Series. He had just triumphed at the NSSA Nationals, signed a big, five-year deal with Quiksilver and saw nothing but a golden path straight to the World Championship Tour. Then reality hit. After narrowly missing the cut in his rookie season, Patacchia fell into the 'QS vortex – a fate suffered by many tour hopefuls. "I'll be honest with you," says Patacchia. "The Qualifying Tour is a party tour, and I partook in a lot of that. I was young, there were beautiful girls everywhere... how could I not go out?" The problem was, the nights on the town dulled his competitive edge, and he's been floating in the middle of the pack ever since. Fast forward to 2004. A finals in the Hansen's Pipe Contest jumpstarted his year, followed by a fourth-place finish at the Honda US Open of Surfing in Huntington – his first six-star final since his rookie year. What's the secret to his turnaround and his current seventh-place rating? "It's contract renewal time," he laughs. "This has to be my year to shine." Fred also credits his renewed focus ("I rarely go out when I'm on tour these days") and his boards ("magic Oshiros and Kerry Tokoros"). But more than anything, it's likely just perseverance. Few surfers can jump on the World Qualifying Series and make an impact. For most, they have to be broken down before they can build themselves back up. "I've had my doubts after a few tough losses," he said. "But now I know it's just a matter of time. I belong in the WCT."