You may have seen Bud Freitas in our America Issue [June 2011] listed as one of the Top 10 Most Underrated Surfers in the US. For us, it was a no-brainer. For him, it was an honor, and it came at a time when things seemed to be coming together for the Santa Cruz Eastsider. Did he win a contest? Invent a move? Do a kickflip? No, no, no. Then why? He quit the booze; he quit the drugs. Got himself a nice girl and a clear head. He’s back on a promising path, but as Bud explains over lunch at a Santa Cruz New Leaf market, his newfound good life isn’t contingent on “making it” in surfing. —Taylor Paul
ON SANTA CRUZ:
“The waves are good. It’s easy. Everything’s here — your family’s here, your friends are here — it’s your little habitat. You go out and get every wave you want. Why would I want to leave Pleasure Point? It’s a perfect right point for me and I get every wave I want. But it’s held me back a lot. I’m down to break out of it.”
ON THE PAST:
“My outlook was just to get hammered. That was it. Party party party. l look back at the money I made from surfing and it just went to booze. Strip bars and booze. It was fun; I was young. But I never looked at the big picture. Every dollar I had was my last and I’d just go off with it. Alcohol really changed me, I’d go on trips and drink my ass off and not do what I was supposed to do. I should have been more focused. But back then it was all-or-nothing-Bud. One beer touched my lips and it was on.”
ON THE PRESENT:
“When you stop partying you see who your real friends are. You don’t have the same people calling you everyday. They just fall off of the face of the earth ‘cause you’re not drinking with them and buying up the bar.
Ratboy’s been like a father figure to me. He always got mad at me when I was drinking ‘cause he knew what I had, like, ‘You’re f–king talented, why don’t you use it?’ He wants to help me go big. He’s amped to see me blow up.
Being sober has changed my outlook on life a lot. I actually surf for more than 20 minutes and I sit in the water and take my time and don’t rush things. I used to get pissed off about everything. And now I’m like, ‘F–k it. I’ll surf all day long.’ Last trip I did to Mexico I surfed more than anyone, just loving it.”
ON THE FUTURE:
“I have a surf school now. I want to get married, have kids and have a killer life, and not be this drunk ‘I coulda been a pro surfer’ guy. I still want to be that pro surfer, but I just want my image to be clean.
If [my sponsors] want to help me go big then let’s do this, but if they want me to be their Santa Cruz guy who just rips in Santa Cruz, then so be it. But if I had the chance I had four years ago with Rusty, to travel the world and do the tour, then I’d do it so much differently. I’d put my head down and focus.
The perfect year? I get the cover of SURFING mag. I win an Innersection. And I do well in the Coldwater — I’m not saying win the thing — but do really well and show people what I’m made of.
In the end though, I just want to be a successful human, be it through surfing or any other way.”