As the NSSA Nationals continue in Huntington Beach, we reach into the minds of past winners to extract the competitive secrets that bring home Nationals gold.
Pat Gudauskas (USA) — 2003 Open Mens Champion
“When I was younger, I would watch the older guys to see what they were doing. I would watch guys like Freddy P. and Greg Long before the contest. Freddy’s surfing is so fast and exciting. And Greg Long’s wave selection is crazy and so pure. He would always be on the best waves.
It’s crazy, kids these days are blowing up, doing airs before turns and just flying. It’s fun to watch.There’s the full San Clamente crew — Kolohe [Andino] and Luke [Davis] have obviously been ripping. And then you got guys like Tanner Rozunko, the Carter brothers and Shaw Kobayashi who have all been shralping. I’ve been surfing with those guys in the water and they all seem super fired up, which kind of reminds me of when we were doing it. I hope the San Clamente kids represent.
Anywhere you are, whether it’s Nationals or some other contest, when you’re out of your comfort zone it always helps to have friends or family there to bounce ideas off of and have the support crew. At Nationals there always seems to be the Hawaii, East Coast and West Coast camps pulling for their guys who are surfing for their home-turf pride.
Nationals is a great opportunity to blow up and have people notice. At the time [I was competing], it was pretty much the pinnacle. The guys in our Nationals crew like Dane, Dustin Cuizon, Kekoa Bacalso and TJ Barron are all such good surfers, it made me feel like the underdog going into it. It was huge to have everyone watching. People really pay attention to see who’s in the finals and how they are all surfing.
It’s a great stage to perform well on. Winning at Nationals also brings you a little bit of international cred. Not a lot, but just enough so people know you’re the guy from America to watch out for once you go to the Pro Juniors and WQS. It’s a total confidence boost to know that you are at the top of your class, which is pretty sick.”