Earlier this month while touring SoCal, we were treated to a tour of San Clemente by the local positive vibe legend, Dane Gudauskas. He rolled out the red carpet, from the best cup of joe, the spiciest Indian food, where to park at Trestles, and a tour of his casa while sipping cold Modelo Especial.
A short drive from the pier, Dane house is situated in a quaint neighbourhood lined with palm trees, old VW Buses, and classic trucks. His home is bright with simple but stylish decorations, consisting of many plants, surfboards, and images and art from past travels. His yard backs onto a wooded area with a patio overlooking his well-kept garden, consisting of fruit trees and flowers. The highlight of the tour was going through his quiver in his garage, including his new 13’+ San Onofre cruiser. Picking through new and broken boards, Dane has enough stories to go all night, but after a couple of portraits and some quiver shots, we sat down and tossed him a few questions about the past, present, and future. Scroll down and learn more about the most positive guy in the game.
Images & Interview: Kyler Vos
What’s up Dane! How’s the winter going?
Ya Kyler! So stoked you guys made it down to hang! This winter has been a blast, it actually feels like… a winter? Down here in SoCal it’s rare to feel that biting cold or howling winds and rain, but we have had all of it this season and it’s nice to see mother nature doing its thing! Oh, and the waves have been epic too… definitely, a season to remember.
I’ve seen a bunch of chatter on the gram about all the brown water, is it common not to surf after a decent rainfall?
Yea down here it’s kind of a different ball game when it rains… we have quite a bit of run-off from densely populated areas and farmlands with who knows what, so it is nice to just let all that stuff wash through for a few days usually. But we have had only so much rain this winter that we haven’t really been over thinking it and enjoying some chocolate tubes!
What is your favourite wave within striking distance from home?
Man, I really love trestles. That entire stretch has so many little waves on offer, and it’s such a fun wave for anything you are looking to do. It’s such a creative canvas.
Congrats on the new digs! It must be so great to lock down your own pad
where you grew up.
Thanks, I really love San Clemente you know? It’s home. It sculpted the person and surfer that I am today. I have so much love and appreciation for everyone here… the whole community.
Was there ever a time or place in California that you wanted to permanently live away from San Clemente?
Umm.. you know I never found a place outside of San Clemente in California that I thought I could live other than here, but definitely other places… I couldn’t believe how much I fell in love with Canada, having the opportunity to spend a bit of time up there was such a treat. I could live up there in the woods, surfing those waves, and be sooooo happy… I guess it’s just the nature aspect is incredible, and the fact you can find your own waves and plus the community of people is so real and sweet… it really reminded me of people who I have grown up with, just honest friendship which gets you stoked. Other than that, maybe in a treehouse on Tavarua???? Hahaha, ill stow away there any chance I can get!
We would love to have you out West, have you ever been to the East coast of Canada? Now, that’s a place you should check out.
I have actually never been and always wanted to go! I just like how cold it sounds, and I have heard some really cool things about the waves and crew on the east. Seems like a special place no doubt! One day I will certainly have to visit, that would be great.
Fill us in on the Positive Vibes Warriors.
Positive Vibe Warriors is a Foundation my brothers and I started to help support community youth water safety programs and also facilitate emerging surfing nations with access to surfing equipment, like used boards, wetsuits, etc. It has honestly been the experience of a lifetime, to share something like surfing that we are so passionate about with people all across the globe, mostly in impoverished and challenged communities who have genuinely seen the joy and therapeutic values that surfing provides… it gives you chicken skin thinking about those relationships, and they last a lifetime which is the cool part. So far we have raised over a thousand donated surfboards for the kids in townships all over the African continent, emerging youth in Jamaica and communities in Trinidad and Tobago. For the Youth water safety program we partner with the BWRAG (Big Wave Risk Assessment Group) to provide safety course scholarships to the next generation of big wave surfers and with the support of Vans, host free youth surfing celebration events that serve as fundraisers for local jr lifeguard programs within those communities. We have hosted events in San Clemente, Huntington, New Jersey, and Makaha in Hawaii… the kids just have the purest magic stoke it really fires you up.
That’s amazing! As you said, it must feel so good to see the excitement and stoke it brings to the kids. Where to next?
Awe man, the kids, just light up with so much pure enthusiasm, it really allows you to reflect on why we started surfing and being at the beach in the first place… for fun and camaraderie. We are working on a few ideas for this year so it will be interesting to see some new locations open up!.
Off the top of your head, where was your most memorable trip you have been a part of?
I think the most memorable trip must have been this past year in Fiji for a huge XXL at cloud break. I was so psyched I got to share the whole experience with my brother Tanner, who had always wanted to surf a huge day out there soooo bad but couldn’t always align his schedule with a swell of that magnitude. We got to stay in the tree house and were just full groms on the program you know? Nervous, but psyching cause we had each other to share it with. He had my back, and I had, and I think it gave us the extra confidence we needed to send it when the time came. Having had a bit more experience out there on big days I just really wanted to inspire him to go for it and believe we could both get the waves of our lives that day. I ended up locking into the biggest barrel of my life that morning, amongst heavy wind and rain in an empty lineup. When you are alone with your thoughts in the lineup with waves like that you really begin to understand what is driving you to be out there. I was absolutely loving the challenge. The Wipeout was horrendous, but it was the most liberating feeling of my life knowing I had just enjoyed such an incredible view and pushed myself to my absolute limit. It lit me up like a lightning rod with energy. Tanner got some great waves that swell and so did so many of our other friends, it was a really satisfying experience.
You’re well travelled when it comes to cold-water regions; where is your favourite spot and do you have any Countries on your bucket list?
I have been fortunate to see some pretty bizarre corners of the globe through the lens of surfing. And that world started becoming much more wide open once I was introduced to cold water surfing. Growing up in Southern California, the last thing people are thinking about around here is throwing on a wet hooded 5 mill and surfing in snow and heavy winds you know? I guess that challenge to see what that felt like was always really attractive to me. I recall seeing epic surf shots of Josh Mulcoy in front of these vast snowy mountains in the mags, and that was really my first exposure to it… I remember going on a vans trip to Alaska. I think I was in my early 20s, and that was super beautiful, but it was not ridiculously cold by any standards. It was just wide open wilderness, and I really enjoyed the experience. A few years later once I stepped away from competition, Chris Burkard invited me on a trip to the Lofotens in Norway and I had never seen that much snow in my life! It was like Tahiti, but covered in white! And the waves were so raw and savage just unorganised and occasionally incredible. There was no one around, and I found that experience to be so peaceful. The bigger the storm, the more at peace I felt inside. I loved when the snow would fall it almost muted the sound of the breaking waves, it was just fascinating to me. Since then I have spent time all around, Iceland the Faroes, the Great Lakes, Russia. I don’t know what draws me to it, I think the solitude, and there is still so much more to explore.
What about Canada, any certain waves you have your eye on?
I always get so psyched when I see Pete, Noah, or the Bruhwiler’s drop some clips from up there, I don’t even know the names of the waves, but all of them always get me hyped, especially the shallow slabs. The level of cold water surfing up there is really incredible to see. It gets you inspired, like “Oh you can surf like that in a 5 mm wetsuit and 7 mm booties???”
Your fellow Vans teammate and great friend Dylan Graves, has been releasing his Weird Waves episodes over the past few months, what’re your thoughts on him changing up the game, do you have any Weird Waves that you would like surf?
How fun is that series??? Dylan is awesome. He is one of our best friends, like a brother and he has put his heart and soul into this project and series, and you can feel it when you watch them. His enthusiasm for the details and communities that ride those styles of waves just cracks me up. There are some legends out there, and it’s all surfing it doesn’t matter if it’s in the ocean, lake, river or wherever. I would ALWAYS be down to join Dyl for a trip. I know he is already working on season 2 so hopefully, the stars align to celebrate some weird waves!
You just got back from a what looks to be a great snow trip with Dylan and company, how was the snow? Do you hit the hills often?
There was so much snow it has been a blast! Certainly, a cool way to escape some of the nasty water days, just roll up to the mountains and tap into that scene. It’s fun to have the beginner’s mind again. I have really enjoyed the experience of feeling different ways to access speed and control and then apply those subtleties back into your surfing. It has opened up some new lines on the waves for me which keeps me inspired.
In your honest opinion, who is the next big shot in America?
There are a lot of kids coming up right now, especially local ones here in San Clemente. I like Kevin Shultz a lot. He is just such a beast with these huge one move bombers that he will throw on a wave. The kinds of moves that make the judges want to throw 9s and I want to grab my icepack and some Advil. He is super spontaneous, and I feel like his surfing could really thrive on the WQS level and see him eventually qualify for the big show. I would really love to see it, and I feel like there will be a time when it all comes together for him at a big event, and he gets that moment to break through. Making that moment count can make all the difference …
What about the next Canadian?
I love watching Reed surf. He is big and powerful and throws a lot of water… It has been epic seeing him spend some time down south lately and can’t wait to share a proper lowers session sometime soon together!
Going through your quiver in your garage you have a wide array of boards for all conditions including your latest 13+’. Tell us about the board, who shaped it, where did you get the idea of such a shape.
Ya! That board is a blend between some of the original Hawaiian Old designs and some old Joe Quigg style prone paddleboards from way back in the day. Its 13’11’’ shaped by Donald Brink. It was an entertaining project working on it with Donald, he is such a craftsman and to make that board actually work took so much thought and understanding from his end. It’s a blast to ride. You just go straight you know? But that’s the point, you can unlock so much more than you ever thought about riding waves when you take it back to the basics. I have learned a lot about balance, speed, and rhythm from riding that board.
That’s mental, looks perfect for an afternoon at San Onofre. I have personally never seen such a craft, have you ever worked on other shapes with Donald?
I haven’t too much actually. Donald is just such a great friend. We often times talk about design and boards, but this is really the only board we have worked on together. I guess it makes that board just a bit more special when you think of it in that context.
Let’s fast-forward and talk about the future, what do you have in mind? You have already done tons of outreach with supporting youth towards surfing; do you think you would ever start a company to push the positive vibe warriors to another level?
It has been a real blast looking back at all the wild, sometimes scary, sometimes super fun times. All the people we have met and communities all around the world, we are indeed fortunate. And to be backed by a company like Vans who really are family, and it’s incredible to have the support of a brand which is willing to be open with you taking unconventional paths in surfing. I feel like the older I get I’m actually even more inspired to surf, now more than ever. I guess it’s less focus on the result based thinking of executing a particular move or needing to perform this or that and more about connecting with the feeling of riding the wave. Playing around with exercise, breathing techniques, food/cooking, and contemplation/meditation. All of these things have helped me to become more conscious of riding a wave, which in turn I feel like has raised my performance. So with age has come the opportunity to see something I have done for my entire life, but now with new clarity, I’m really excited about exploring that process. As far as supporting and connecting with communities? I don’t think I’ll ever lose that love for people. Whether it’s a fully organised Foundation initiative or just being kind to a stranger, I think anyone at any time has the opportunity to raise the vibration of the environment around them, and once we all tap into that frequency that’s when the higher energy of the community is lifted.
With food and cooking, what kind of changes have you made?
I haven’t made too many structural changes, but I would say I am just having a ton of fun cooking and eating. Just feeling inspired when I think about different flavours or textures and then how to bring that to life fills me with stoke. Hopefully, some of that passion that I put into the meals transcends into the energy that fuels my body and spirit. At least I like to think that way anyways… Also, I rap out with Robbie Elliot from in Tofino about cooking and nutrition. I have never actually had someone to consult or talk to about food, it was just something that I feel like I pursued just for fun, but having someone as knowledgeable as Robbie in my court really allowed me to grow not only my imagination but my menu as well.
As for Exercise, Breathing, Meditation, etc. Do you have a trainer? Or are you just putting forth effort towards the practice?
I don’t have a trainer. For me, I know when I have put enough time in on something regarding exercise… I feel more connected to it when I push myself rather than someone directing me, but that is just a personal thing because everyone is different and it doesn’t matter what inspires you only so long as you go get it! I do love learning new things from a variety of different teachers though, and then applying stuff from all corners into my daily practice of whatever it may be.
You’re a legend, thanks for all the words and help around your back yard!