As the NSSA Nationals begin in Huntington Beach, we reach into the minds of past winners to extract the competitive secrets that bring home Nationals gold.
Fred Patacchia (HAW) — 1999 Open Mens Champion
“I would try to stay away from the corporate aspect of the contest as much as you can. For kids without a major sponsor, knowing all of the team managers are down there watching can get a little distracting at times. There’s that added pressure that comes with it, which they should try and not pay attention to. They should just go out, surf and have fun.
Especially for the older kids, doing well at Nationals can set you up with good sponsor and the right finances to do whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s the ‘QS or a being a photo guy. Take it seriously and try your best. When it comes down to it, you have to separate yourself from the crowd, stay focused and do what you’re there to do.
Winning the Open Mens and Open Juniors that year definitely got me noticed. Along with a solid paycheck, it allowed me go on great trips with guys like Kelly Slater. Nationals acts as that hinging point in your career, helping you have a comfortable transition into professional surfing. It gives you that comfort zone and push to do well.
But other guys can still have that smooth transition even if they don’t do well in the NSSA. There are tons of guys who haven’t won Nationals who have done really well in the pros.
This year at Nationals, I’m sending Barron Mamiya out there to compete. He’s the winner from this year’s FreddyP Golden Ticket Contest in Hawaii. He’s a great surfer and I’m looking forward to seeing him to do well. There are also a lot of great girls coming out of Hawaii right now that people should watch out for. And I’ve been hearing a lot about Ian Gentil — I’m sure he’ll blow up. I always love it when Hawaii kids take over Nationals.”