Checking in with Rookie Surf Sensation Pat Gudauskas

This is from my Imperial Beach Patch surfing Column, “Southwest Surf” of November 2, 2010

Back in January 2009, I took a trip to Baja with the WiLDCOAST team and a Surfer Magazine crew that including San Clemente rookie rippers Pat and Dane Gudauskas. I first met Pat and Dane in 2005 during the start of the Save Trestles Campaign at a packed toll-road public hearing in San Clemente.

Despite the gale force wind and small surf on our Baja surfari, Pat and Dane optimistically looked forward to the next point around the corner.

Pat, who is sponsored by Vans, has had an incredible run on this year’s Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour and today is ranked 20th in the world. At the recent Rip Curl Pro in Portugal, he faced eventual second-place finisher Jordy Smith in the semis to place fifth overall.

When I checked in with Pat, he was on his way to Puerto Rico for the Rip Curl Pro Search and a first-round heat that had him surfing against last year’s ASP World Champ Mick Fanning and Gabe Kling. He placed third in his first round heat but was then eliminated in the second round by Australia’s Matt Wilkinson.

Are you surprised to see yourself ranked 20th in the ASP?

It’s really exciting to see my name up on the list of guys I’ve watched surf for a long time. Pretty much a dream!  It’s been a longtime goal to get on to the CT and climb the ladder to the top, so it just gets me super frothy to start it up!

What has been your favorite moment of the tour so far?
That would have to be Snapper Rocks. Just the energy of the tour starting and all the possibilities. Anything can happen at that point for any of the surfers on tour. It’s like the whole world is in front of you there! Also the place is like surfer’s heaven. It goes hand in hand with the vibe!

What has been your absolute favorite surfing experience on the tour so far this year?
Tahiti and France. In Tahiti I stayed after the contest with my brothers (the youngest Tanner is also a pro surfer) and scored really fun Teahupoo. The place is amazingly beautiful and a month wasn’t long enough time there. France and Europe in general are personal favorites. This year was the best I’ve ever seen beach breaks in Europe.

Who are the surfers on the tour whose surfing inspires you?
I think the top guys are inspiring just the way they surf amazing in all conditions. Fanning, Taj, Kelly—they are unbelievable surfers. Dane and Jordy, too, this year have taken things to a new level with progressive surfing. It’s fun to be a part of.

What boards are you riding?
Been riding a mixed bag from Channel Islands Surfboards. A few Protons, a few Rookies, and occasionally a Whip. They’ve been working insane, and I credit a lot of my success to the boards working so good in all the waves on tour.

What has been the toughest moment of the tour so far?
Toughest moment was for sure the cut in Teahupoo. I felt like guys got axed that shouldn’t have. Specifically my brother and Nate Yeomans. They were surfing really well the first events and were just starting to get their rhythm. Also a few super close calls (that K felt went unfairly against the rookies) could mean the difference of on- or off-tour because there were only five events. I think Kieren Perrow is a great example against the cut. He fell off, then got an injury wild card and was back on, then got back-to-back fifth places. But Tanner and Nate will be back, so it’s all-good.

How are you training for the final leg on the North Shore?
Just been hitting yoga and pilates as much as possible on the road. Surfing tons, and mentally getting ready for that stretch.

How do you push yourself to get better and progress? What motivates you?

Motivation is easy; I have a lot of things that inspire me. I’m really driven by standards and goals I set for myself. I’m my biggest critic and have high expectations for everything that I’m doing. I love to have fun but love to do well at the same time. Also, friends and family at home, making them proud is a huge inspiration for me. Being inspired by guys who are ripping helps to push my mind into new moves and approaches on waves.

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