The dynamics of focussing of extended patches of nonlinear capillary–gravity waves within the primitive fluid dynamic equations is presented. It is found that, when the envelope has certain properties, the patch focusses initially in accordance to predictions from nonlinear Schrödinger equation, and focussing can concentrate energy to the vicinity of a point or a curve on the fluid surface. After initial focussing, other effects dominate and the patch breaks up into a complex set of localised structures–lumps and breathers–plus dispersive radiation. We perform simulations both in the inviscid regime and for small viscosities. Lastly we discuss throughout the similarities and differences between the dynamics of ripple patches and self-focussing light beams.