The Making of a Surfer, with Pat Gudauskas!

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posted by Stab

Patty G ain’t no peckerwood. He knows just how precious his skin is and realises the importance of using a mechanical sunscreen like zinc as opposed to chemical-based suncreams (zinc blocks the sun whereas suncream’s barrier is only created when you rub a ton into your skin. Hello kidneys! Swallow this!). And, don’t sic just look so… surf! Photo: Corey Wilson

From Stab Issue 60: The Making of a Surfer with Pat Gudauskas, 27 years old and from San Clemente, CA.

By Elliot Struck

Oh em gee, Pat’s one of three! Younger bro, Tanner, and twins Dane and Pat, form a totally infallible band of musketeers. So, when Pat speaks, he often speaks of ‘we’ instead of ‘me’. Ain’t it sweet! Don’t let it confuse! The inclusive nature of brotherhood brings even more light to this already-glowing surf tale!

Stab: When did you realise surfing was going to dominate your life?
Pat: I’ve always psyched on surfing, since I was four or five years old. But, I decided I was gonna do it professionally when I was 18. I just loved surfing so much that I never really thought of it as a job or doing it as a profession. But, when I was four or five years old, I knew I was going to do it every day. The moment when I had to commit to it as a career was right when I got outta high school. All my buddies were either going to college or moving away to cities to work, so around that point my brother Dane and I were both like, hey, let’s give it a go.

When did you know you were going to be a good surfer? I really don’t worry about that too much, I was always just psyched on surfing itself. Me and Dane, ‘cause we’re twins, we were always the underdogs in the amateurs. We’d maybe win a couple of events here and there. I won Nationals when I was 17, which was a big deal for me, then Dane won it when we were 18. That was actually when we went, ok, we should look a little closer at this and maybe give it a stab. As far as when things started clicking in the water, there were a coupla different points. When I was younger, I never used to make heats, then around 16 we started to do a bunch of surf classes in San Clemente. We would surf every morning from six am til, like, 6.45, all through high school. I think that’s when it started clicking a bit because we were surfing so much with high-level surfers. All of a sudden you’re doing airs. I tried rodeos a bunch when I was younger and, when I finally got one of those, I was like, fuck, that was so sick!

How has surfing changed the way you see the world? Surfing is a vehicle through which we’ve seen the world. It’s allowed us to go out and see different cultures, see different people. It’s allowed us to have a common love with a lot of people in the world and you’re able to look at similarities and differences between different cultures from the outside and absorb it all. It’s such a sick lifestyle, Dane and Tanner and me all just take our surfing stoke into the world with us.

Who do hold as the absolute best surfer in the world at this moment, October, 2012?Dane Reynolds. The guy is just gnarly. He’s got power and airs at the same time. Growing up, I loved watching Dan Malloy, he was one of my favourite surfers. He was super power-based. Then you have the other side, which is like Taj Burrow. I’ve always loved Taj’s surfing. So when I see Dane now, I think of him as the combination of two different worlds. And, that’s pretty rad. So it’s gotta be either Dane or John John (Florence). He’s pushing the big wave, big barrel boundaries as well.

What’s the worst session you’ve had? I get pretty psyched on just about anything. I had this one session when I was surfing Lowers. I was around 20. I was just getting roasted, and hitting people, having a shocker all over the place. So, some guy hit my brand new board, put a hole through it. Then, next wave, I ended up doing an air, landed in the flats and blew out my ankle. I remember being underwater, just tripping. I came to the beach, hole in board, my body was twisted, and had to walk all the way back up.

What’s the best session you’ve had? Teahupoo with my brothers, Dane and Tanner, and also Nate Yeomans. It was on a photo trip, four years ago, and it was just six-to-eight-foot, perfect sheet-glass Teahupoo with no one out and we surfed it for six hours straight. It was just mental. The thing about Chopes for us is, we grew up surfing San Clemente beachbreaks, so we’d always dream of sick, big barrels. We’d surf shitty Beach House or Pier and pull into closeouts, just frothing. But to see that full circle, from where you’re sitting in school doodling perfect barrels, then you actually get to surf a session in those kinda waves? It was so perfect, and harmless perfect! That was my most memorable session.

Your most treasured board? There’s one I had when I was on the QS that was actually a French Al Merrick. It was when Kelly and Dane and a bunch of guys were getting those really magic sticks from him. And this one board, it was an MBM 6’0” with glass-on fins. It was just the best board I’ve ever had. I think it made me around $35k ‘cause I was making all these heats on it. I won my first pro comp on it, the Vendee Pro in France, and I pretty much qualified on it. I still have that one. It has about a hundred buckles in it now.

What’s the quality you like most in other surfers? I just like watching exciting stuff. I like guys that have that unpredictability, that look like they’re freesurfing all the time. Like John John. I’ve surfed a bunch with him and I just get fired-up on the unpredictability. You’ll be watching him and all of a sudden it’s like something you just didn’t expect. You’re trying not to expect anything and then you can’t even fathom what happens.

What do you dislike about surfers? Growing up in Orange County, when people hassle or get aggro out in the lineup, when someone gets all eggy in the water, I can’t really stand that. ‘Cause I feel like when you’re surfing, you’re just so stoked, how can you be eggy and snapping? There’s nothing worse than when people have a negative vibe in the water.

What talent do you wish you had as a surfer? There’s so many things you always want to improve on. I’d love to have the power of Reynolds or Taylor Knox. Surfing with Dane and Tanner all the time, ‘cause they’re pretty gnar power-based, I just wish I had some bigger thighs. I’m the chicken legs guy trying to push as hard as I can. I always wanna keep doing bigger and better airs and finners, but I would love to have more power.

Has your perception of surfing changed over the years? Yeah, I guess it has. I was always imagining this thing that was super intangible, which was the world tour, and being a travelling surfer. It always seemed like just dreaming. And, now it’s all happening. It’s crazy how fast it all went and I feel like I really appreciate surfing for that. All my friends work now and, when you’re a grom, you’re just surf-psyching, then all your buddies go to work and I was like, I’m going on a surf trip!


A purse drop from J-Bay. Don’t it scream! Photo: Kolesky/Nikon/Lexar