What does Mo Freitas get out of three mobility training sessions and hours spent on the water each day? A bottom turn that's taking him to the top. Photo: Tony Freitas

What does Mo Freitas from three mobility sessions and hours spent on the water each day? A bottom turn that’s taking him straight to the top, among other things. Photo: Tony Freitas

Pro Activity | A Day With North Shore Phenom Mo Freitas

It has been difficult to get hold of Mo Freitas today. Not because he's screening my calls, but rather, he's so darn busy. I tried him in the morning – no joy, he's out shortboarding. I talked to his Dad, Tony (a well-liked and jolly presence in the SUP scene) later in the afternoon and he said Mo was back for a few minutes, threw down lunch and then dashed back out to the water. He'll call me back "in an hour or two when he's done surfing."

Well, one or two hours easily turns into five when you're out in nature's playground. Finally my cell phone rings and we're in business. "Sorry it took a while to call you back," Freitas says. "The wind's been up so I needed to get plenty of waves in."

If the 18-year-old Oahu paddler is hunting waves it's about the only thing he's been chasing this season. In most contests, it has been the rest of the field that's chasing the world number seven. Freitas followed up impressive wins at DaHui Paddle Race and The Santa Cruz Paddlefest by claiming the win and $10,000 purse at the increasingly competitive Payette River Games. But in the people-first Freitas family, the final standings aren't what Mo liked best about the event.

"It was really special to have my Dad, brother, Grandma and girlfriend with me at Payette," he said.

It's this tight-knit group that keeps the 2013 SUP Awards Male Rookie of the Year grounded and focused. Freitas's father, Tony, is an integral part of Hawaii's paddling community and uses decades of knowledge to guide the career of his eldest son, as well as Mo's younger brother, Marvin. And they still have time for home-cooked family dinners most nights.

Before that evening meal comes a packed training schedule. Freitas gets up between 6:00 and 7:00 am and immediately pounds some protein – typically three or four eggs and some pesto. If he's famished, he'll also throw down a protein shake. He then does mobility work for thirty minutes to an hour. This week's unexpected swell notwithstanding, Freitas says "there are no waves in the summer so I focus on training on my race boards."

This means that three or four days a week, his morning session involves a fast four or five mile flatwater paddle down the river that runs near the back of his home. Next comes a protein shake and another hour of post-paddling mobility. Freitas then spends time with his girlfriend and friends for an hour or two, making sure he fits in a solid lunch – meat, rice, beans and salad is a Freitas family favorite.

Around 2:00 pm, Freitas heads back to the river for another four to six mile paddle, followed by more flexibility work and a protein-rich snack. Three days a week, he takes a break from water based training and follows a land-based program that his Brazilian trainer emails him every Monday. It involves "plenty of balance work and exercises on one leg. I also have someone pass me a medicine ball from different angles while I'm balancing on a big ball, to simulate wave impact." When the SUP race season winds down and Freitas turns his attention to surfing, he adds in runs along rocks and breathing exercises that prepares him for hold downs.

After enjoying a relaxed dinner with his girlfriend or family, Freitas likes to watch TV and "roll out before bed. Flexibility is so important because if you're not limber you're just going to compromise your performance and struggle when waves start pounding you." After his third mobility session of the day, Freitas heads to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. "I've learned to listen when my body says it needs more sleep," he says.

Looking ahead, Freitas wants to continue improving his speed and tactics for shorter races while also challenging for top honors in the channel crossings. "I made the mistake of traveling too much in the run up to Molokai and have realized I need to be more selective and spend two months training for next year's M2O," he said. That's not to say that he's done globetrotting. In fact, Freitas revealed that he will continue to go on longer surf expeditions, and hone his work on both sides of the camera. "I'm really getting into filming and video production," he said. "After a couple more seasons, I might take a year off and just do surf trips to Panama, Indonesia and Tahiti."

But first there are those world championships to win.

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Mo Freitas, deep within his happy place. Photo: Tony Freitas

Mo Freitas, deep within his happy place. Photo: Tony Freitas