Tanner Gudauskas and the rise of the Americans on the WQS
By Travis Ferré
Sure, the world's practically ready to end. We're all hanging by a thread. Pawning all our belongings and stealing stereos to get by. But it turns out it only takes a few minutes with a Gudauskas brother to see that things are going to be just fine. Consider Tanner Gudauskas for instance: One day after turning 21 (on the 4th of July) he won the Mr. Price Pro in Ballito, South Africa propelling him to sixth on the WQS, neck and neck with a healthy stable of Americans than include Brett Simpson, Austin Ware and his brother Pat Gudauskas. SURFING caught up with the reeling Gudauskas while he drank in the fruits and beauty of Brazil awaiting his next heat at the 6-star Maresia Surf International.
SURFING MAGAZINE: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE WIN. RATED SIXTH AT THE HALFWAY POINT AND YOU JUST TURNED 21. THINGS ARE GOOD.
Tanner Gudauskas: It's at an all time high. I don't even remember a lot from the final day of the contest. I watched video of my waves but it's still just a blur.
THE WAVES AT THE ENTIRE EVENT RANGED FROM PUMPING PITS TO GROVELY SHOREBREAK. HOW DID YOU ADAPT TO THAT?
There was one morning in the beginning of the event that the surf was pumping. Double overhead and offshore. The paddle outs were tricky had to time the sets and wait by this little rock pack and just gun it while there were lulls. We were all tripping that it was a 'QS event. But then everything changed drastically and we had to pull out the groveller boards and get back to the QS mindset. Within three days the entire face of the break that we were surfing changed. It was a massive right drain pipe at the start of the event and by the end it felt like 56th street on a low tide.
YOU WERE RIDING AN INTERESTING LITTLE CRAFT IN THE FINAL, TELL US ABOUT THAT LITTLE GEM.
I have been riding a lot of Flyer swallowtails this year. It's great because they have the extra foam. I am a big boy so I need the extra buoyancy to make it happen sometimes when the surf is really small. The Flyer that I was riding in my heat in Ballito felt unbelievable. It seems like it has a little bit of a "V" in the tail so its extra rippy and grippy in the pocket. I've also been riding this new Merrick model called The Rookie, but with a ton of "V" in the tail instead of concave. It felt really good in the bigger surf.
MUST HAVE BEEN A BIG NIGHT AFTER TURNING 21 ON AMERICA'S BIRTHDAY AND THEN WINNING THE EVENT RIGHT AFTER.
We definitely went big on our last night in South Africa. The roughest part of the last couple of days has been recovering from the hangover. We had a pretty brutal flight out the next morning after the celebration. We left at 6 a.m.
HOW HAS THE VIBE BEEN ON THE TOUR THIS YEAR? ARE THE AMERICANS HOLDING THEIR OWN?
I feel like America has been simmering for a couple years and now we all seem to be on fire. I'm stoked to be a part of the team and trying to take it to the next level with them. I travel with my brothers, Austin Ware and Nate Yeomans. We have a really healthy rivalry going between us. Kind of like whoever gets the best result in the last contest gets the best room at the next accommodation.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
We are at Praia Mole, Florianopolis, Brazil. It's incredible…the most beautiful girls in the world, hands down.
HAVE YOU NOTICED A SHIFT IN THE KIND OF SURFING GOING DOWN ON THE WQS LATELY?
The final between my brother Pat and Owen in the Maldives left me baffled. It was the most fun I've ever has as a spectator at an event. The way Owen was surfing on his forehand he could have had a ten on a number of waves. Then Pat starting flaring up on his backhand and his board looked like a magic carpet — anywhere he wanted to go he was getting there. And then on his last wave he should have gotten a 12. I think this year on the WQS people have been surfing with reckless abandon and its so fun to watch. It has gotten me pumped to try new things and bring a fresh look to my surfing.
HOW'S THE EVENT GOING TODAY IN BRAZIL?
Well the contest today might not be on because there is a nasty south wind blowing it to bits. But I made my heat yesterday so I'll be the cheerleader today if it runs because Pat will be the only one of us surfing. But the one thing we are psyched on is this new Brazilian surf wax we've been turned onto while we've been here called Mango Wax. It's like waxing up with chewing gum. Honestly I feel like I have straps on. It's almost dangerous though because it makes you only want to do airs.
WHERE TO AFTER THIS?
Well, we have one more event here in Brazil up in Rio — which we have heard the surf could be pumping for — then straight home for the U.S. Open and getting to celebrate my birthday with friends and family.