Twenty-six years – that’s how long Jake ‘The Snake’ Paterson has spent dedicating his life to pro surfing, first as a professional himself, then as a commentator and most notably in recent years as a coach. It’s an epic innings, right up there with the best of them in Australia, and in an endearingly Australian way, it’s been built on the back of hard work over talent and honesty over ass-kissing. But no more. The man behind the hugely popular Snaketales series has decided to leave the contest arena behind and pour his focus into We Are Feel Good Inc, the sunscreen brand he started with a group of friends. Behind him he leaves a roster of talent including Stephanie Gilmore, Griffin Colapinto and Ethan Ewing, and a legacy that includes wins at J-Bay (back-to-back) and Pipe. Tracks caught up with Snake to get his thoughts on his lengthy career and what he’ll miss most about the sport of professional surfing.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Just making it as a pro surfer. It’s very f@#king hard if you look at the list of surfers any given year. Also sitting on the ASP board as a surfers rep for most of my career to help other pro surfers for a brighter future, with forming the WSP with Grevelle Mitchell.

You’ve tasted considerable success as both a competitor and a coach. What personal qualities allowed you to experience that success?

One, hard bloody work. You put in the hard yards and things go your way. Two, never giving up. It’s never over till the fat lady sings.

You’ve had a lot of talented young guys under your tutelage in recent years. Why were they attracted to working with you?

Have to ask them, I guess. I’ve seen a heap of super-talented guys never make the grade, so it’s a trust relationship. I’m not much of a back-patter. I put a lot into my coaching and I demand the same from the athlete because I hate losing. I like working with kids who hate it just as much as I do. We normally get along the best (laughs).

What will you miss most about coaching?

Winning! I do it all for the thrill and having a hand in a heat win. Sometimes it can just be the smallest of things but if it made the difference from a win to a loss it’s what I love the most. Also the amazing golf courses I get to play around the world, sometimes for free because of the GOAT. It’s truly amazing.

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“The funs done!!” it’s time the hang up the old passport! I have decided (with the help of Covid) to take a full time job with @wearefeelgoodinc sunscreen (try some it’s amazing) mixed emotions for me. It has been super rewarding coaching kids to reach there goals and achieve there dreams as well as teach a couple of life lessons along the way I hope. I got to coach 5 guys from the QS onto the CT tour, also got to hang out with @stephaniegilmore for one of her 7 world titles!!(very cool) . Created Snaketales clips which I hope you all liked! Thanks @stephenisbelly for getting me started. To all the Snaketales crew , old and new, Thank you for trusting me with your careers. Plain and simple, I love coaching and going to miss it big time. ✌️

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What will you miss the least?

I love it all.

The Snaketales videos have proved extremely popular over the last few years. What do you think people connected with in those videos?

How real it is. I wanted to try and get the fans to get to know the athletes more than an after-heat interview. The good, bad and ugly. I think that’s what people wanted to see.

How’s the response been from your friends, surfers and peer group following you announcing your retirement?

Amazing. I was blown away by how many people cared. I got a little teary reading the comments on my Instagram post.

How would you like to be remembered in the sport?

Someone who loved pro surfing. My work ethic. Someone who always kept the top guys honest in a heat. From a pro surfer, to a commentator to a coach. I never liked sugarcoating anything! It never helps in the long run.