Freddy P dropped the mic, and there is no better way to say it.
He went out in his round 1 heat at Lowers, got an 8.9 and a 10, came in with minutes to spare and announced his retirement after 11 years on tour. Done. No more. Buh-bye. A couple of months later, we caught up with Freddy on the North Shore. After he dropped the mic, what happened? What is happening? And what the hell does he plan to do backstage? —Taylor Paul
SURFING: Has it even sunk in yet?
FREDDY P: No, not really. I’m on full vacation-mode right now. [laughs] I have plans for life after surfing, job-wise, but I have a couple months of just complete free time with my family and friends and it’s been killer. I’ve been catching up with buddies from high school and getting to surf with guys like Sean Moody, Joel Centeio, Kekoa Bacalso — all the guys that I’ve been missing. Because you know, we’re getting to the age where everyone’s got families and everyone’s got jobs and obligations and when I’d come home from CT events, my timing wouldn’t necessarily coincide with their free time. I found myself surfing by myself a lot, and that wasn’t all that fun.
What do you enjoy most about surfing with those particular guys?
It allows me to smile more and have fun. My surfing had become very mechanical, where I was just trying to find the board that’s going to work best at the next event. Surfing with those guys has made me let go of all that. We just talk fantasy football, surfing and family — it’s just a whole different world than what I’ve been doing.
Tell me about the job you’ve got lined up.
I’m going to work with some of the kids in Hawaii and continue to work with Quiksilver — with their young team — and help them pursue their surfing dreams. I feel like I’m filled with a lot of fresh information that can help them, and put some of the parents at ease, or at least give them as much information as possible about…
How to make it in this crazy business of ours?
Yeah. What to expect, not expect. Everyone has these fantasies that once they make the CT the big dollars are going to start rolling in. But a lot of guys don’t make the CT, a lot of guys fall off first year, and there are guys on tour that don’t even have main sponsors. You have to be prepared for that. But I also want to make it fun. Surfing can give you a lot of things without being the best guy in the world. You can be a young pro from 18 to 24, and travel the world and see some cool stuff, stuff you would never have seen if you’d just stayed on the normal path.
Do you see yourself doing that exclusively through Quik?
For now, I’m trying to simplify. I don’t even know if I’m ready for the work world until I dip my feet into it, but the Quik guys have been really supportive of what I want to do and they’re really excited that I want to work with the kids, so I’m just going to work with their team, start slow and go from there. I might have all these preconceived notions that it’s going to be great, but I could get in there and be like, wow, maybe I don’t want to do this.
Like, “These kids are annoying.”
Yeah. [laughs] And I hear the parents are pretty gnarly, so it could be interesting.
It’s always seemed like you’ve had great balance in your career — between contests, golf, beers, emceeing events and all that — do you think that helped you succeed?
Sometimes you look at guys and it’s like, are you even having fun doing this, or are you just in it for the paycheck or to become world champion? And even if you do become world champion, what are you going to do then? You have nobody to celebrate with because you blocked everyone out. I feel that in order to enjoy your experience in surfing, whether it’s on tour or as a freesurfer, you have to enjoy the places you’re going. I like getting lost in random cities and having beers with random people, kinda immersing myself. And a few times, yeah, it did hinder the way I surfed in events. [laughs] I’m not gonna lie I surfed a ton of heats hungover because I had a bit too much fun with the guys in the local pubs or going to soccer games or footy games you know? But it’s tough. I want other kids to have that same experience but they have a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Parents or sponsors hear you’re having too much fun and they don’t think you’re focused enough. It’s hard to find that balance where people really accept what you’re doing.
Who has that balance?
Mick Fanning does it really well. He’s been able to have fun, experience life, experience different cultures, but still have that extreme focus when he needed it to win those world titles.
What’s your favorite post-heat interview you’ve ever given?
[laughs] My favorite that I’ve done would have to be about Owen Wright [in which he said he thought the beach commentators had Owen’s “testicles so far up their mouths, this is bullshit”]. And I really like Owen, but I wasjust fed up with the commentators. I was out in that heat and I was like, I have to win this heat now so I can get interviewed. It motivated me to win. I didn’t do it for shock value; I did it because it needed to be said.
What scares you most about the future?
I guess just fitting in, being accepted into this new world. I don’t have a college education and some people strive their whole life to get a job that might just be given to me because of surfing. I hope that people accept me in this next stage of life. It’s pretty scary, jumping into the work world this late in the game without any kind of job reference…
Yeah, like, do you have to make a resume?
Right? [laughs] Like, my resume’s f–king blank. So that’s a little scary. I just don’t know how it goes in the real world yet, so I don’t know how I’m going to cope with it.
What excites you most about the future?
Being at home and watching my kids grow up, and watching them grow up with my friends’ kids. There’s a crazy baby boom that’s happening on the North Shore that I’m noticing now that I’m home. Makua Rothman has a baby and Joel Centeio has boys, and there’s a possibility that our kids will be surfing against each other someday, and we’ll just be the grumpy dads on the beach.