Although he’s the youngest of the hyper-talented Gudauskas clan, Tanner has never had any trouble staying out of his brothers' shadows. Once a World Tour competitor, Tanner has dedicated himself to the trenches of ASP Prime and Star competition this year. And at Trestles earlier this month, it paid off, earning him a second-place result at the Lowers Pro. He’s now on the cusp of World Tour qualification. We caught up with Tanner and talked World Rankings, brotherly love, and why being a Tour surfer is better than being a freesurfer.
How has this past year been for you moving up through the World Rankings?
I think everyone is learning how to deal with the changes of the ASP. If the ASP had a blog where they could post forum chats for issues that they wanted to see changed or dealt with, then all the professional surfers could see and talk about it. Then the changes wouldn't be so radical. I think what has happened has pushed the level of surfing to be an all-out-on-every-maneuver style of riding waves. It's very fun to watch.
What's it like competing against everybody in your backyard at the Lowers Pro, and was it a tough pill to swallow coming in second?
No, it wasn’t really a tough pill to swallow. There is only one winner in every event. If my final wave in the semi hadn’t come in time, then I wouldn’t have been able to have my feet on the podium. I was super grateful for all the support on the beach so I just wanted to try my hardest for everyone down there cheering me on!
It looks like you are right on track to break into the World Tour after your last result. What's your game plan to ensure that happens?
Take it one event at a time, start from zero and look at every event as an opportunity more than a "have to."
Do you think that your brothers are good motivators for staying focused and improving your surfing both in and out of a contest jersey?
Yeah, definitely. Dane and Pat push me in all things I do. Patrick is a great coach because he has the knowledge of surfing the CT heats. I am super stoked 'cause he genuinely wants to help me get back to the Tour, so I really cherish his advice. Dane and I always push each other as well. He is the most positive coach, so I am really lucky. But I would do the same for them.
How has the surf scene changed in San Clemente as you've gotten older? Who pushes your surfing the most now when you are back home?
The San Clemente Surf Team is the center of froth! It's so fun going home and seeing all the kids blow tail out at T-Street. Surf Psyche is alive and well in San Clemente. Sammy and the T-Street boys rule the show!
What would it mean to you to qualify for the Tour?
Competition is its own beast in surfing. The passion that you can feel when you have the jersey on is really different from freesurfing. So when I fell off the Tour last time, I thought about what it was that I wanted to try and do with my surfing: Freesurfing, or competition. I realized that the level of surfing is so high on the World Tour that I felt I improved tenfold when I was there. So now I want to try and make it back on to learn more, and surf better waves with the best surfers in the world. Then I will take it from there, whatever the next step may be.