Mo Freitas Podcast 2018

Mo Freitas Podcast 2018

If you’re on this site, you know Mo.  He’s the current ISA champ, the APP World Tour overall champ and I think he’s the most polished paddle surfer in the game.

Mo comes back on the show to discuss his last year of competition, the big news about his board sponsor change and we get technical on training and surfing.  We break down some turns and techniques in the second half of the show and discuss creativity near the end.  Enjoy!

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher

Some links from the show…

We break down the turn at 1:15 in this video…

Trigger Point Foam Rollers  – Mo and Erik both use these rollers every day, no sponsorships here, just love the product.

Lead in photo credit –



Session Breakdown – April 1st

This week was focused on understanding bottom turns.  I was frustrated with the new Rawson (7.9×26) on the bottom of the wave.

Some notes on the board –  At 7.9 it’s a bit bigger than what I’ve been riding.  It has an extreme tail rocker with fins a bit farther forward than my other boards.   The board trims forward of center, so doesn’t carry speed off the tail.

All that said, I know it surfs amazing because I have a ton of Mo footage riding it better than anyone rides any board.  So the problem is with the rider at this point.

I got frustrated on Tuesday, and decided to figure it out.  This is my normal process for learning/refining a skill.

  1.  Go to the source.  In this case Mo.  I broke down Mo videos for an hour or so.  I found the Cali video most helpful (below).  After watching a few times I started to realize how much rail he’s putting in the water.  Also, back foot, which on a thruster is normally right on top of the back inside rail fin, seems to be a touch farther forward.  It made sense to me, with a looser tail, you’d need more rail, but I didn’t realize how much Mo is burying the rail until now.  His bottom turn looks a lot like that of Julian Wilson, very compact and low.
  2. Go drill.  I rode the Rawson for the next 2 sessions and still couldn’t get it.  I had some great moments, off the lip game is strong with the tail rocker and quad, but bottom game was still lacking.
  3. Try other equipment.  At this point I rode 3 different boards for the next 3 sessions.  The small 7.7×24 Hobie, the L41 6.10×26 and the bigger Hobie at 7.6×26.5.  Bottom turns felt better and focusing on the bottom turn with the three different boards really allowed me to dial in the feel and foot placement.  But, I still didn’t have the a-ha moment.
  4. Back to the video…  This time I took the last few days of me surfing and broke it down with the below video.  That’s when I saw it.  Directly preceding Mo’s bottom turn he’ll do a stroke into the flats.  I always thought it was stylish, but never gave it much thought outside of speed.  But, it has massive implications for the bottom turn.
  5. Boards turn on rail better when the wave face has the greatest opposed angle.  So, bottom turns are easier in the flats and cutbacks are easier when the wave is bending at you.  Have you ever tried to lay down a huge carve on a wave bending away?  It’s almost impossible.  So, that extra stroke isn’t as much about speed as it is about clearing distance into the flats which allows more rail penetration and a tighter bottom turn.  Which, if your riding a loose quad, is needed to maintain speed to the lip.
  6. The video above on instagram is after 2 days of practicing the paddle into the flats.  Bottom turns are grabbing and redirecting like I’ve never felt before.

Kai Lenny’s Stoke and Mo Freitas’ Swing Cutback

Kai Lenny’s Stoke and Mo Freitas’ Swing Cutback

Yesterday Kai Lenny recorded for the PaddleWoo Podcast.  I’ve spent a ton of time with a lot of Kai’s friends, but have had no contact with him.  He is an inspired human and the show turned out great.  It will be up in a week or so — stay tuned!

Kai inspired me.  He’s about as focused and passionate as anyone I’ve met.  Got me all inspired to surf this morning.  Early, the surf wasn’t any good.  And after checking for 2 hours I decided to go out back for a paddle and try to learn that stroke that Kai does.  He has a unique return, leading with the bottom elbow and a strong flick at the end of the stroke.  So, this morning I broke down a few videos of him paddling and decided to paddle in the bay for a bit.

It took me a while to understand leading with the bottom elbow on the return.  But after about 10 minutes I figured out why it’s effective.  If you paddle like Kai, which is a very deep hinge, you’re almost at 90 degrees when you start your stroke.  It takes some time to extend that far, and the meat of your stroke, the power, is all in that front 1/2 of the pull.  So, I think what makes his stroke effective, is that 2/3’s into the stroke he’s already on recovery with his body.  Leading with the elbow allows you to continue to pull while the body is recovering.  Then, the paddle can come back much faster than if you were finishing your stroke with straight arms.  It’s an oscillation.

This stroke and the leading elbow recovery also brings the paddle back perpendicular.  You can have a lower recovery and if chop hits the blade it won’t catch.  I focused on emulating the stroke today for a couple hours and that’s what I figured out.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

By the time I paddled around, a reef actually started to look good.  Not great, but some good lines coming though.  Direction was a bit off and there was some weird backwash, but if you got a first or second wave of the set you’d get a good ride.  It was pretty mellow so I decided to work on rail turns.  I’ve spent the last few weeks focused on the Colin/Kalama cutback, so I decided to focus on a variation that Mo is doing.  There isn’t a name for it yet, so I’ll just explain it.

It starts like a normal cutback with paddle on toeside.  Set the rail, set the paddle, pull into the turn.  The limiting factor of having the paddle in the water when you’re doing a rail turn is that if you’re pushing the turn it will stop the turn at a certain point.  What Mo Feitas will do at times is pull the paddle out about 1/3 into the turn and throw the leading shoulder and paddle back at the whitewater.  It’s the same motion you’d do on a shortboard.  Today was a great day for trying and I got about 15 reps through the short session.

Some notes on the turn:

  • If the rail, not full rail, more back 2/5, isn’t fully engaged when you pull the paddle you come right out of the turn.  This put me in a few bad spots where the wave was super steep and I was basically air dropping, awkwardly, to avoid pearling.
  • If the rail is set, you can’t swing your weight too hard.
  • The paddle gives you a nice swing weight to throw momentum into the turn.  Just as you can counterbalance while standing with your paddle, the weight of the paddle will really help you come around.
  • It’s a super fast turn.  I got ahold of 3 or 4 and when done right you’re coming around super fast.  I tried to throw out the tail on a few and it didn’t feel good.  Better to just hit the foam.
  • The good thing about this turn is that the foam bounce is easy as the paddle is still on your toeside rail.

Frame grabs below from


(featured photo is from The SUP Movie –

Mo Freitas

Mo Freitas

Hey there paddlewoo fans.  This is Erik, your host of the PaddleWoo Podcast.  I don’t think I have been as fired up for a show as I am about today’s guest.
One of the reasons I wanted to start this podcast was to have the opportunity to talk to athletes that are changing the way that future generations will see waves through our sport and I believe that when we look back Mo Freitas will be at the top of that list of Athletes.  Pat Rawson, the legendary shaper who was on our first episode, compared Mo to Tom Curren and used the word Icon when describing him.
If you watch his videos, which he produces and edits himself, you understand what I’m talking about.  From gracefully shredding small right point breaks to surfing pipe, Mo surfs incredible.  And that is what this podcast and our idea here is all about.  Surfing.  It’s surfing first, I just believe that Paddle Surfing 80% of the time is the best way to enter the lineup.  The paddle shouldn’t take away from surfing, it should enhance it.  Mo is one of the guys showing the rest of us what is going to be the norm in 5 or ten years.  He is a window in the future, and today on the podcast we get to know where he came from and where he sees the sport going.
And after talking to Mo extensively doing the show, I can tell you that the sport is in good hands.
Today’s episode is brought to you by, us… PaddleWoo just launched some T-shirts.  Our first shirt is the Not Afraid to Stand Alone shirt.  You all know the feeling, the only guy out on a SUP.  It takes a bit of courage to do it at times and at certain places… so we decided to celebrate it and put it on a shirt.  Head over to to see the design and order your PaddleWoo shirt.  Support the podcast!
Show Notes:
  • 0:33 – Erik’s “Glenn Beck” intro 🙂  (not sure where that came from…)
  • 2:00 – PaddleWoo launches the “Not Afraid to Stand Alone” PaddleWoo Shirt.  Get yours at
  • 2:50 – Mo Freitas gives us a short history of his surfing career, started contests at 7 years old
  • 4:10 – Mo paddled for a canoe team and would paddle on a longboard on the river with his canoe paddle, well before he knew about the sport
  • 5:24 – Mo just won the Payette River Games in Idaho, overall winner with a total prize purse of $50,00
  • 5:55 – Surfers did very well in the event, Mo explains it if because the time in the water in unstable water
  • 7:15 – Mo explains how he got into competition SUP surfing
  • 9:20 – He fell in love with the sport of SUP surfing right away
  • 10:20 – At his first event we was sponsored by Imagine, his first sponsor, Imagine introduce him to Body Glove
  • 11:25 – Imagine and Body Glove split and Mo stayed with Body Glove who then started to work with Focus SUP, that’s how Mo got hooked up with Pat Rawson, Tony Freitas, Mo’s dad, really helped push the board size down.
  • 13:50 – Can volume go any smaller?  How much more room for progression is there?  Board size, Mo is at the limit.  He tried 6.10 x 23, to small.  SUP is at its baby steps of progression according to Mo.
  • 16:30 – How will boards progress?  Mo talks about Dave Boehne’s designs.  Mo says for him basically just blow up your favorite shortboard for conditions and it should work?
  • 18:34 – Mo talks surfing big waves on SUPs.  He thinks it is an advantage, both paddling in and surfing.  He thinks SUP in big waves will grow.
  • 21:18 – What wave does Mo surf the most?  Haleiwa, HI, he talks about the his wipeout when he broke his pelvis
  • 23:30 – Mo talks about editing/producing his own videos, it is a passion of his
  • 24:45 – Mo films majority of his out of water footage, using GH4 Lumix to shoot, and uses Premier Pro from Adobe to edit.
  • 27:00 – Mo’s boards – 7.2 and 7.4 by 23, for choppy surf he uses a 6.10, bigger tail, same volume
  • 28:50 – Mo uses Sawyer paddles, uses 90in blade for surfing and 95in blade for race?  Likes a lot of flex in his paddles (better for your shoulders)
  • 30:10 – Define yourself as an athlete.  He defines himself as an all-around athlete, but mentions surfing first.  Loves the versatility of racing and SUP in general.
  • 31:10 – How does Mo Freitas train for racing?  He trains with Roberto Lopez and Noa Ginella, Mo doesn’t have an offseason.
  • 32:20 – Mo has been doing a lot of swimming lately for rehab on his pelvis
  • 33:30 – How is the vibe for SUP surfers on the North Shore?  Vibe at Pipe is different, won’t get any waves, Mo will be in the waves for 3 hours and will only get 3 waves.  Pipe is easier to surf when it gets bigger
  • 36:45 – Who inspires Mo Freitas?  A lot of the guys that Mo wants to beat, Kai Lenny in particular.  Friends and family.
  • 37:44 – What are Mo’s favorite places and waves?  He just graduated high school and is now traveling the world.  He loves a lot of places but Hawaii is home.
  • 39:20 – Closing thoughts, a message of positivity from Mo Freitas.