Photo: Jimmicane
Photo: Jimmicane

The Gudauskas Brothers Collected Almost 700 Boards for Children in South Africa

Donated boards will go to the organizations Surfers Not Street Children and Waves For Change

A little more than a year ago, the Gudauskas Brothers organized a surfboard drive of historic proportions. Over the course of a few months, Pat, Dane, and Tanner utilized their social media accounts and called all California surfers to donate any new or used boards to their local Jack’s Surf Shop, in an effort to send boards over to Jamaican surfers who live in and around Bull Bay. From this, they were able to gather over 200 boards and ship them off to the Caribbean. Never did they think their second board drive, coordinated last weekend for surfers of Durban, South Africa, would be over triple the size of their first one.

Earlier this year, the Gudangs spent time with Surfers Not Street Children, a Durban-based organization that empowers former street children through surfing and mentorship. The experience–combined with their many visits to Durban throughout their surfing lives–inspired them to go for Round Two in their board drive. Through their non-profit organization Positive Vibe Warriors, the Gudangs went to social media and announced their plans take another batch of donated boards down to South Africa that would be given to the organization, and also to Waves For Change, a program that provides surf therapy sessions to kids in order to help them cope with stress and to build positive relationships.

When the donation period ended, the Gudangs gathered all the boards in the San Clemente High School parking lot last weekend and realized they had almost 700 boards to ship off to Durban. We called up Dane Gudauskas to get a little more insight into the project, and to hear about the moment they realized their second board drive was such a success:

You guys had so support with the board drive last year. How did this second one come about?

Pat and Tanner had been to Durban, and I have gone there for a bunch of contest and to surf around, and we have a bunch of good friends there. Michael February is a good friend, and he was mentioning that his family does a lot of work with the Waves for Change organization in Cape Town. He was saying how the Jamaican board drive was a really cool initiative, and if we were ever looking to do another one, that they would love to get involved somehow and do a board drive down there for the kids in South Africa. We weren't thinking about another board drive up until that point, really. But one day, we were sitting around the table having breakfast, and it was like a lightbulb went off in our heads. We started doing more research on those organizations- Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children. Oh, man, its such a feel-good scene with all the work they're doing down there with the kids who might otherwise be homeless or living on the street. They give them this infrastructure of camaraderie and use surfing to create a really positive outlet in their lives. We were right on board.

How many boards in total did you end up with?

680 surfboards, over 200 wetsuits, and hundreds of sets of fins. We didn't know how much we had until we laid them all out on the asphalt and took inventory. All we knew was that we had a storage unit that was all filled up, 2 U-Hauls full of boards, and the boards from our house.

That’s about triple the amount of boards you collected the first time around. It really shows the power of social media for the word to spread so far.

Yeah, social media is such an exciting platform in that it connected us with a lot of great people who got behind the movement. There were a lot of shops and people up and down the coast who helped out. Even the WSL got involved and promoted it and shared the story. It took on a nature of its own and that's the beauty of these projects. It made us realize that there are a lot of people out there who want to do good things for other people.

How did the packing process go down?

Friday, Patrick and Hanalei [Pat’s wife] went to LA and picked up 80 soft tops from LA with the U-Haul. Frankie D’Andrea, who is working with us at Positive Vibe Warriors, and I scraped wax off surfboards from 9 AM to 6 PM. I think we must’ve scraped 300 to 400 boards. My hands hurt so bad—my thumb was completely swollen [Laughs]. Then, Saturday morning, we had to pack everything in the shipping container. It had to be completely packed and on the road by noon that afternoon to be able to make the boat in the Long Beach Harbor by 3:30. So we had to transport all the boards that were at our house to San Clemente High School, where the high school surf team helped us package up all the boards.

Then, we laid out all the boards, every one of them. Hanalei took inventory stock and wrote down all the models’ sizes, names, etc. Then we just started packaging them up ten-high and wrapped them in cellophane. Patrick, Tanner and a couple of friends were in the truck hoisting the boards up and making them fit like a puzzle. It was a game of Tetris. We were actually amazed that you could fit that many boards in one 40-foot shipping container.

Did you come across any unique boards?

Oh my gosh, there were so many cool boards. There was this really beautiful old board donated by the Ware family that was shaped by Terry Martin. Kohole Andino donated a bunch of brand new Mayhems that looked beautiful. Jordy Smith gave one of the boards that he was riding in the Lowers event. Flea [Virostko] up in Santa Cruz donated a couple of Barney's old boards. Every single board has their own story. It was cool to think that at one point in time, each board was ridden by someone. And it's really rad to see it transfer hands and be reborn in another kid's life.

Is this a project you guys want to keep doing?

Yeah, for us, it’s been a really cool learning experience to see that you can utilize a social platform, as a surfer, to create a positive impact within communities and rally to a cause. We definitely feel inspired to do more things like this through Positive Vibe Warriors. Surfboards are such a great conduit — I mean, that's the language we speak. We could do other stuff, but we're surfers at the end of the day, and the ocean connects all of us. Hopefully this inspires the next generation to speak open-mindedly about what they can do.

What's the next step in this project?

We are going to go to South Africa in January or February when the boards arrive. We've got a really good team of people down there who work with Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children, so that'll be all dialed in by the time we show up. We'll basically be driving to all the camps they have up and down the coast to meet up with the kids, and we’ll hand the boards out and surf with the groms. It's going to be a fun project.

Is there any other way people can get involved?

People can go to positivevibewarriors.com to find out more about the initiative and check out the missions of Surfers Not Street Children and Waves for Change. We also have a donation site. That goes a long way. If people want to get involved and support it, all of the money is going directly to the cause.

[All Photos by Jimmicane]