Under The Influence: Patrick Gudauskas

You can't help but be a better person when you're around Patrick Gudauskas. He is all smiles. All eye contact. All "how've you been?" and he actually wants to know. Spend just a few minutes with him and you'll find yourself matching his energy, his positivity and his grace. It's how it's always been with the perma-grom from San Clemente, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when the same thing started happening in the water. Contest after contest last year his opponents elevated their game to match Pat's. And in a series of six are-you-f–king-kidding-me? heats where Pat lost by less than a point, he fell off tour. Bad luck? It certainly played a part. But Pat's taken that slice of humble pie, asked for seconds and washed it down with a cold glass of milk. Because even bad luck can be something to psych on. --Taylor Paul

pat gudang

PATRICK: In 2011 I was carrying all of this stress and anger because I was basing my life around contest results. I had a really bad year on tour, but then I did that rodeo against Jordy and requalified. Then last year I had one of my best years ever competitively -- I was surfing well, feeling confident, my boards were dialed -- and then I didn't requalify. It was almost comical. Guys were just stepping up and surfing great against me, and I came up short a lot. But I kicked out of 2012 going, "F–k, that was a sick year." I felt proud.

I went through a bit of transformation with it all. Because you invest so much time into something and it becomes your whole life, and then when it doesn't go your way it makes you stop and think. I had to look inside myself and go, "OK, competitive surfing is one thing that I do, but it's not who I am." So I learned to disconnect contest results with who I am as a person, because they are pretty irrelevant in terms of what you do in your whole life. And by doing that I relinquished a lot of stress, animosity and pressure and now I'm having so much more fun. I see a lot of the rookies and it's almost like they base their whole existence around that one heat. And that's where I was once. But there are so many factors that you can't control so you shouldn't really stress on it. You have to learn to worry about what you can control and let the rest go.

Lately I've just been trying to improve myself in all areas in life, trying to push myself to do new things and go outside of my comfort zone. A lot of creative stuff. I've been really stoked on traveling with instruments and art tools, and writing a bunch. I get psyched on stream-of-consciousness writing, where I'll sit down and write about my experiences. So much happens on the road and you end up internalizing it. So I'm just trying to capture stuff that in 10 years, might be fun to look back on. It's cool. I'm learning a lot about myself.

It's so rad to be with Vans, because they are just so receptive to everything that we're excited about, and they actually have the manpower to execute a lot of our creative ideas. We have involvement with everything from the movies to the clothing to the trunks. While we're traveling we're always going out of our way to try and find things that we really like. We'll go into thrift shops and art shops to find new prints and inspiration, stuff that's a part of our story, and bring the designers stuff that they wouldn't be able to access at the office. Like, you look at Dylan Graves' new shoes, and that's all his Caribbean art.

We're really fortunate to be with Vans because things are so tough with the economy nowadays, and a lot of people don't even have sponsors. But I don't even feel like we ride for them, it's like we're all just a big family and I'm honored to be a part of it.

The Stoke-O-Rama is something that my brothers and I had been thinking about for a long time. We always wanted to do something to give back to the local groms because that was us growing up. We were the biggest menehune frothers ever. Little rats, just psyching, running around T-Street and Lowers. And we grew up watching guys like the Beschens, Wardo, Dino Andino, the Fletchers, the McNulty brothers. Those guys were so influential on how I surf today and how I view professional surfing. We were super lucky to be around those guys. And, I mean, we don't consider ourselves to be big pros or anything like that, we just feel like groms at heart, so it's sick that we have the opportunity to go surf with groms on a daily basis at T-Street or Lowers. I never want to be the bitter pro who's snapping on the groms (although you do have to keep them in their place). But it's more like, I want to encourage them to go big and continue the San Clemente legacy.

We put the word out about the contest and said, "Sign up at 9 o'clock at Jack's Surf Shop, first 100 kids are in it." And there was a line out the door and it filled up in like 20 minutes. We were so stoked the reception was so big. Then we just went into overdrive. We made all the shirts and prizes and just made it a super fun event. Kelly and Kolohe came down for the expression session. It was funny, we told the kids, "We're going to have the pros go out for a couple waves, you guys can check everything out. And the kids were like, 'Wait, do we get to paddle out with you?'" And we were like, "No, you know, finals are coming up...just hang out..." But they were just so stoked that Tanner went up to this one kid and said, "It's on, tell your buddies it's on." And then, like, 300 kids stormed T-Street with us. Kelly was pretty rattled, like, "You guys need to get this under control." And I was just laughing, like, "This is the sickest shit!" And groms were freaking 'cause Slater's spraying them and Christian Fletcher was out there and he ollied over Kelly. It was amazing! It just made me feel so good and put things in perspective. I literally spent 12 hours on the beach that day, and I left buzzing. Made me feel like a grom.