Jake Paterson on coaching Steph Gilmore

Anthony Pancia
Talking Heads

As the champagne flowed and the celebrations rained down following Steph Gilmore's seventh World Title, an unshaven fella in the crowd walked that little bit taller.

Jake Paterson spent eleven years on the Championship Tour, won a few events, including the Pipe Masters, yet he never challenged for a title. Always a hard grafter, Jake has since taken all the lessons he's learned, all that hard-earned wisdom, and poured it into his role as a CT super coach.

And yesterday it paid off with a World Title win.

Anthony Pancia tracked down the man they call Snake for a chat.

Swellnet: Well, congratulations. How do you feel?
Oh, it's amazing. I mean, it's a year campaign that we all put in for the ultimate goal of winning world title, and it all came off today, so it's what we all do it for. Mine's just a small part of the chain that needs to link together to win a world title, but I feel amazing.

Could you talk us through Steph's mindset coming in to this final event? Obviously there was quite a gap between the last two events, so how much work did you have to do to keep her focused?
Not much at all, because she loves this wave, and she's done really, really well here in the past. She's actually defending champion of this event, so it was just all about making sure her equipment was right, and she was on the right board at the right time, and making sure she's waiting for the right waves, because it's a kind of a tricky wave. And yeah, just try and avoid all dangers, kind of thing, and let her talent do all the work for her.

How long have you been coaching Steph for?
Two years.

Snake and Steph - the coach and the world champ

Okay, so what sort of strategies have you picked up over the years? How do you think you've been able to help her, basically?
It's pretty easy coaching when you've got the best horse running in the race, I think, so it's just a matter of just making sure everything's ready. Everything we can control, like her equipment and her mindset, and we don't leave anything to chance. And we just wait for Mother Nature to deliver her two waves in one heat and let her performance do the work for her.

It's just like sitting at the right place, making sure, waiting for the right wave, and just keeping up with the kids. Some of these girls are coming along really, really well, and just making sure she's got confidence enough to beat them.

And has Stephanie indicated she's looking for an eighth world title yet, or just happy to relish the moment?
Yeah, I mean she only won it a couple of hours ago, so I wouldn't even know. She said earlier on in the year she was going to do another few years on tour, so she's not going anywhere in a hurry.

I'm also just curious, I guess from a competitor's point of view, is there anything better than a title coming down to the last event? I mean, obviously it would have been great to sort of duke it out in the final, but how much better is it to win in this last event?
Oh, I'm sure she would have loved to win it in the final, and having to win the event and win that way, but any way to win a world title is still an amazing effort, because it's not just this event, i's been a whole year. And she's had an incredible year. She's won three events and she's had two seconds, so she's really, really... smashed a few, really, and there was only one other competitor vying for the world title, so yeah, if she can top it off with a win tomorrow it'll be incredible.

"We just wait for Mother Nature to deliver," says Jake Paterson of coaching. Yesterday, Steph took possession of the delivery with this wave in Round 2 (WSL/Sloane)

Was it hard to get her focused back on the even itself, once the hysteria of the world title passed?
It was a little bit. She had a couple of glasses of champagne to celebrate a tiny bit, and she was a little...lost focus, but she ended up getting a couple of nice tube rides and nailing it down, so she'll be in the quarters tomorrow.

And final question, Jake. I'm not quite sure, but is this the first world champ you've sort of coached to a world championship?
Yes, it is, yep.

Personally, how does that feel for you?
It's why I do it. I feel like I've won, kind of thing, you know? I was on tour for eleven years, and I was in a title race a couple of times, but never really got close. I finished fifth a couple of times, but never really had a good crack at it, so this is like a small part of having a hand in a world title makes me feel like I kind of won as well. It's exhausting. I feel like I was competing as well, so I'm pretty happy. 

So you're not likely to pack the boards and head over to Jaws after this?
Definitely not. Jaws got called off today because it was too big, so that's unheard of for that place, so... Just to tell you, the swell that's hitting Hawaii at the moment, it is crazy huge.

Once this event is done and dusted, you've got a couple of the guys, Kanoa and a few of others, competing at Pipe?
No, they're actually competing at Sunset. Sunset's too big today to run, and possibly too big tomorrow, so I'll head back to the north shore of Oahu tomorrow for the Sunset event, as well. So I'll be coaching those guys then, and then there's Pipeline after that, so it's pretty cray. It's all crammed in. I'm trying to kill a few birds with one stone here.

Well you've won at both of those waves, Sunset and Pipe, so I'm sure everyone's in good hands. Congratulations, Jake, and good on you.
No worries. Thanks Anthony.


Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:03pm


Do yourselves a favour and view the article photo full screen. Thanks for the new wallpaper.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:21pm

Fucken perfect hey

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 6:54pm

Holy shit that’s good.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 8:36pm

Yep what a moment and link up! Was this post having a few champa's?

Ed Sloane's picture
Ed Sloane's picture
Ed Sloane Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 at 8:12am


stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:23pm

Best contest photo he's ever taken, says Ed.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 6:15pm

That feeling we all surf for, pure stoke, so good.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 8:14pm

i'd be smiling too.

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 at 10:45am

Hopefully he doesn't teach her to drop in on everybody, that pretty what I remember Jake Patto for more than his competitive career. Ive ridden waves behind him from Cotteloe beach to Sunset beach and many places between, he didn't earn the name snake just cause it rhymes with jake

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 at 1:26pm

I know what you mean mike. Tried to claim my favorite wave down south. Spray paint in the car park! He's probably grown up since then unlike me.

Coops70's picture
Coops70's picture
Coops70 Monday, 3 Dec 2018 at 10:34am

Scotch college kids as I remember, used to kick em off the pinnie machine at sammys as a grom. He never stood out like his brother did though.

seaslug's picture
seaslug's picture
seaslug Monday, 3 Dec 2018 at 12:38pm

sammy's pinnie machines and space invaders, gezz that's a blast from the past

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo Monday, 3 Dec 2018 at 4:38pm

I played pinnies with splitends at Sammy's. They had the hair styles and groovy shoes.