Pat Gudauskas is a man in perpetual motion. In fact, he's currently tracking an elusive left-hand tube through Namibia before hopping on a flight to Jeffreys Bay and eventually making his way north of Durban for the Ballito Pro. We've got a camera crew in tow to capture Gudauskas as he ping-pongs across the continent (stay tuned for more on that later), trying to score a diverse spectrum of surf and soak up all that Africa's southern coasts have to offer.
Packing for a trip like that can be quite a mission, but luckily for Gudauskas, he's been tinkering on a board design that he claims checks all the boxes for all-around performance. We got a chance to catch up with Gudauskas at his San Clemente home on the eve of his departure to take a peak in his coffin bag.
So what do we have here? What boards are you bringing to Africa?
Since this is mainly a contest trip, the main goal of the quiver is consistency, so I've got a bunch of brand new Fevers. I spent two and a half years designing that model with Mike Andrews [from Channel Islands] and it's pretty much all I ride for contests now. You can basically do the entire ‘QS with just this board because it's so good in small waves. I went for the round tail on a few, which I never do, but I though it might go well at Jeffrey's Bay or maybe Namibia. I like the round tails for point breaks and really good waves. I was basically imagining the round tail being perfect for pumping J-Bay, or maybe Ballito, if it gets anything like the year I won it—just 10-foot nuggets.
So these are exactly the same board, minus the tail, correct? Why is that the route you take when surfing contests?
Yeah, these are all about 5'10" x 18 ½" x 2 ¼" and meant to be exactly the same, although every board always comes out feeling slightly different. Contest quivers need to be consistent because you don't want to have to figure out unfamiliar boards in that arena. Basically, when I show up to an event, I know I'm going to be on a Fever, I know how it's going to feel, and I know how it will work in pretty much any wave. It makes it simple so you can just focus on surfing your best. But if I was going on a mainly freesurf trip, my quiver would be a different story—I'd bring some really creative surfboards. For contests, you want that consistency, though.
So the overall goal when building a contest quiver is to just remove the decision-making process as much as possible, right?
Yeah, the only thing you want to have to worry about is finding the best waves in the heat, and surfing them. You really try to not think. In the past, I'd show up to an event with a Proton, Rookie, Flyer, and Whip, and I'd sit on the beach and go, "That section would be really good for a Proton. But I could do an air on that other section with the Flyer, or I could carve that slow spot with the Rookie." You just end up overthinking it and kind of doubting your choices when you give yourself too many options in competitive surfing. That's where the Fever design came from, because we wanted to create one board that had everything in it. It's basically a Rookie and a Flyer put together. We lowered the rockers, put a single concave in it, kept the hip, and basically tried to bring all the best elements of those two designs together. It's super-fun to ride, and it works in so many different types of waves.
So as far as contest boards go, you think this one is a bit of a swiss-army knife?
Definitely for my style of surfing. It's funny because Tanner and Dane [Pat's brothers] have very different styles than me. Tanner is just so darn creative. He can ride anything, and it looks amazing. But for my style of surfing, which is kind of always going back and forth from pressure on my front foot to my back foot, I really enjoy a quick design with a sharp edge on it. This board feels like all my favorite CI boards over the last 10 years in one design. It's a lot of fun.
[Featured Image: Photo by Glaser]