In What Youth Issue 3 we speak to a lot of humans, including Shane Dorian, Gavin Beschen, Kelly Slater, Ben Nordberg, Steven Grasse and more. One of the most interesting people we spoke to was Tanner Gudauskas, who is obviously one of the most likable souls on the planet — but we found him in between things: stuck somewhere between competing and freesurfing, between his two amazing brothers, between girls, wondering what path to take. And Tanner is no freewheeling gypsy like you may think. He's a thinker. A philosopher. A poet. And a serious fan of surfing. We had an interesting breakfast during the making of Issue 3, which is where you'll find the entire interview. After the jump is an excerpt from a very candid chat with one of our favorite conversationalists, Tanner Gudauskas.
WHAT YOUTH: Tell us about your year so far, a bit different...
TANNER: It’s interesting. My brothers and I all have our own thing. We all traveled and did the ‘QS for a long time and it was fucking so fun. And we had the sickest, best time. We were out there doing it and then Dane stopped doing contests and Pat stayed on and I got knocked off, sorta in the middle. So just by the nature of it we stopped traveling together. Last year I was traveling alone for the first time. Like a few legs I was solo. I had a lot of time alone. Europe solo. Brazil solo. And at first I hated it. I didn’t want to compete. Being on the WQS alone doesn’t leave you that inspired.
Yeah you guys had reached your goal to qualify, then fell off and to re-inspire must be tough, and you’d seen the grass on the other side by then too…and you wonder if that’s what you really want.
Exactly, you always want to compete up there with the best guys, but fuck…it was kind of like, seemed so stupid kind of. So many people take the whole operation of it so seriously. I was surfing to have fun, but the processes around it weren’t fun. That’s what’s always appealed to me is the positive part of it. Psyching for yourself and other people as well. I think the good guys at the top are exciting and that’s what makes it cool. Riding for Vans allows us to do some rad things so I couldn’t let myself get down.
Yeah, Vans must help a lot. They want you to be you.
This year they’re putting energy behind this show on Off the Wall TV that focuses on things we do when we’re not competing on the road. Things we do when we travel that aren’t surf related at all.
You get to pay attention to what’s actually going on. To go check things out. It’s what people think we do when we travel as surfers, when in reality we drive around in a vans eating chips and talking shit until we finally all talk ourselves into paddling out somewhere…at least in the majority of my experiences.
That is so true!
We’re just in the van all day talking shit.
Surfers are just professional bullshitters on trips. That’s what makes a good surfer. Like when you think about Nathan Fletcher, the way I know him now, he has a story for everything. Like when you jumped in a cab with him in Mexico he just goes off and you’re like looking at a hotel on the side of the road and he’ll have something specific regarding someone famous and that hotel. The art of shooting the shit is being a good traveling pro surfer.
You end up finding the most obscure things to talk about.
Yeah, like bad No Fear ads from the past. Ryam Kimmel had one with his shoulder and sort of his head, and it said: No mag is big enough for Ryan Kimmel. [Laughs] There’s a new one with a post it note somewhere that says: “Sorry, we didn’t have time to finish the ad, went surfing. [Laughs]
Where do you think you sit right now in your career?
It’s funny because it’s such an ongoing thing of competing vs. non-competing. It’s all we have. This year I saw both sides of it. Pat competing, Dane not. I didn’t really know what I thought was cool. I was trying to figure it out, I guess.
I feel like I’m similar even in observing. I don’t hate contests, I think I like it because it’s a place to watch surfing. Which, as boring as it gets, it’s still people surfing and I like to see people surf, period.
Do you tune in and pay attention at all to the QS?
No. I think the turn off for getting into the QS is there’s so much number talk. Like when guys get to a point conversation, I lose them. So and so needs an equal fifth to move up the One World Rankings. It’s like, no win that shit man! Equel fifth sounds shitty! You sound like people I can’t relate to. Mathematicians in the van, trying to win a game I’m not even that psyched on anyway.
It’s a different sort of thing for sure. It gets too serious and becomes a sport and not a lifestyle.
I mean, we all want to win — or at least not look bad. That’s innate, but the whole point counting ticking waves to get through a round to get to another round…eh.
There are so many facets to all things. I think it’s funny because it’s such a weird energy around contests. Some people love it. Some hate it. Some don’t even care. It’s all so far from our lifestyle though, which is funny. Banners and standing around. But really, I’m so pumped on surfing so I do it all.
What part? What makes you so pumped on it? What element are you the most excited about? What keeps you ticking?
The going fast, is kind of the part like the most, always going fast. Right now I’m into a lot of interesting things with surfboards. It’s changed my style a bit. My whole approach used to be to get speed, now I’m more interested in enjoying the ride and relaxing a bit because the boards come with speed. I don’t know too much about boards, but I do know that they’re different now. Surfing is always changing, and that’s epic. Recently we went on a trip and went right at a pointbreak for three weeks. Then went home and went to Lowers and just went left and everything was so fresh again. (For more with Tanner Gudauskas, order a copy of What Youth Issue 3 now, in the What Youth Store.)