The Gudang Trio Discusses Brotherhood And How To Make It To The Mountain Top Together
Positive sibling vibrations we should all aspire to.
Ed. Note: Our friends at Raen have kindly pulled this interview from behind the Stab Premium paywall in celebration of all three brothers becoming Raen ambassadors. Hope you enjoy.
Photography by Zak Bush
By now, it’s cliché to claim San Clemente’s Gudauskas bros as some of the nicest folks you’ll meet in professional surfing, but damn if it isn’t true. The three tread the line of radiant positivity and realness; their relationship should be the modern archetype for brothers in surf — cheer each other on, build each other up, and push each other’s progression with palpable love and affection.
Dane and Pat are 36 years old and fraternal twins; Tanner is two-and-a-half years younger at 33. They’ve lived a bit by now, so we sat down with them to talk brotherhood through the lens of their surfing lives. Unsurprisingly, their affability shined through in smiles. The three tossed our questions back and forth, at times literally finishing each other’s sentences. We talked about the legacy of San Clemente surf brothers, sibling rivalries, careers taking on their own paths, the joys and hardships of winning and losing, pushing each other into the next dimension, and more.
Stab: There are a lot of notable surfing brothers in San Clemente, how did that influence you all growing up?
Dane: Growing up here, you started hearing names like the McGonagle brothers, the McNulty brothers, the Longs, the Fletchers—these huge surfing families that have been around San Clemente surf culture forever, and they were always super hard-charging and ready to commit on big, crazy waves. So, growing up with those kinds of role models, in terms of being the three of us, and just embracing the full spectrum of surfing was aspirational.
Pat: I think with the heritage of San Clemente, in that regard, there’s such an honor to it, where you want to represent and want to push hard. And, inherently being brothers, you’re always pushing off each other. I know for me, at least, I would hope to grow up to be better than them or want to be similar in certain ways.
Have you guys ever copied each other’s style, or seen something from each other that you learned or wanted to mimic?
Pat: Tanner’s the beautiful combination of Dane and I, where it’s raw power, agility and he has some craziness to go huge in big waves. Within our own brother three pack, there’s that fight for hierarchy and pushing each other and it’s super fun.
Tanner: It’s more absorbing it because you’re always surfing together. I think style is something that you learn from either watching videos or surfing with somebody, you innately pick it up. I mean, we surf together so much.
Dane: Yeah, it was one car drop-off, all three go out to surf.
Tanner: There was no other way.
Do you ever feel like, between the three of you, there was a late bloomer in terms of talent, or someone who took on a different path later?
Pat: For sure, but in our own ways. Competitively, I had a lot of success early and I really loved competing. And Dane ended up winning nationals — the highest kind of accolade you can get at 18 years old. And then, we both went on to the QS together and Tanner came with us… But, I feel like for you, Dane, you really blossomed into such a free-surfing spirit and so much of an enigma in terms of style and wave approach. Later on, you just kept growing into your own shoes. Tanner was such a raw talent early on. And later in your surfing, you really developed into the full ensemble of power, acrobats, huge airs, huge barrels, big waves.
Tanner: I feel like that’s a cool thing with brothers, you get ups and downs. And when you’re in your house and your brothers are into the same thing you’re into, even if you’re down for a little while, you’re looking at somebody who is up and you almost fill those gaps and it pulls you back into it. It re-inspires you.
Dane: Yeah. It’s like, no matter what, if you’re on top or at the very, very bottom you know you got someone there who’s going to back you and believe in you and just give you the motivation to not be afraid to go to the next level. Having that camaraderie of a brother-ship or siblings or even community—that’s how I think you get to the next dimension.
Were you always trying to help your brothers get to the next level, or was it ever so competitive that you were fighting each other?
Tanner: There was the one heat where I qualified at Sunset and we had lined up the three of us in the heat with Mason Ho. And it is not like we had talked about it before going out, but when I was in the water they were like, “Hey, go on this wave, it’s a good one. Go on that one.” And I qualified through that heat. So, for sure, they were giving me the red carpet there. But also, we’ve competed in so many heats together where you don’t ever give an inch.
Pat: We’ve put our heart and soul and everything we got into going through this surf world. We all know how hard it is to make it and how hard it is to be at the top and are on the journey together. It’s kind of like getting a team to the mountain top. You’re not going to just bail your brother on the side of the road and be like “I’m going to the top of Everest!” So, you’re always like “Come on, dude! Pick it up, we got to go!” I think that’s why so many brothers in the scope of surfing really excel — from the Irons to the Lopezes, Colapintos, Florences.
Has there ever been a moment where you thought, Fuck, my brother surfs better than me?
Tanner: Dane and I went for a big swell in Fiji and I remember being on the boat the morning of the swell and was like, “It’s off today. It’s too big.” There were all these boats. Everyone’s looking at it. Nobody’s getting in the water. It was hard to imagine how big it was and then guys started towing and it looked psychotically huge. And then, Dane just started going, “Oh, it’s on. I see my window. We’re on this. Let’s go. Let’s go!” And I was just thinking, “Dude, there’s no shot I’m getting off this boat right now. That looks psychotic.” And then, that moment when Dane left the boat and I think you were like the only guy paddling. I just remember feeling like I still had a lot of room to grow. I was like, “Fuck.” Really looking that in the face and being like, “I don’t want it,” was very humbling.
Pat: The mountain is high.
Is there an extent you’ll go to be better than each other in surfing?
Tanner: Surfing‘s not really a gladiator pit, at least for the three of us.
Pat: It’s almost like now we’ve all become our own individual surfers, so then we kind of just keep on rocking. But I think the big wave sessions are where we want to outdo each other.
Dane: You get bragging rights for the day.
What does the term “sibling rivalry” mean to you?
Dane: It’s like you’re together and in it through and through. No matter what, the doors are locked and you can’t get out of the car until the thing gets to the final stop. That’s the way I see it. You have to sit in the same car with them forever. There’s that moment of intense friction, but then there’s also this moment of euphoria … You’re just like, “Fuck it. It doesn’t matter because we’re stuck in the same car.” You know what I mean?
Tanner: I feel like we sort of evaded that because there are the three of us.
Dane: There was always that one disruptor, the third counterpart.
Can you describe how it feels to win and lose to your brother?
Tanner: It’s such a beautiful feeling.
Pat: I wonder what our record is. We’ve had so many heats, me and Tanner. We’ve probably got like 30 heats to our name.
Tanner: I feel like the record swings in your direction, for sure.
Pat: I have a good swing, yeah. Every time we have a heat, I get like two magic eights in the beginning and I’m like, “Oh man, that’s sick. Come on dude.” And then you’re like…
Tanner: Fucking great [laughs].
Pat: I kind of feel guilty when I win those heats, because it’s like, “Oh man, that sucks that we were together, and it would’ve been sick to make it in the finals together.” And losing just sucks because you had your brother and you’re feeling like you should have done better or you could have done better or why did you have to be together?
Tanner: Yes. It’s like you almost kick out of it going, “I wish I lost to any other person.” Then the next day you just get in the same car together and…
Dane: Go surf.
Tanner: Or you both go get a beer that night…
Pat: And then come back for the next heat…
Dane: And cheer him on for the next round.
Tanner: That’s the truth though. It’s so hot after a win and a loss and then it just blows over so fast.
So, when you guys are in a contest together, you’re battling each other. Do you guys battle each other when you’re free surfing?
Dane: Do we?
Pat: Dane’s got like albatross arms, so he catches a lot more waves than everyone else. I don’t know. We’re not too big on battling. We’re just always moving around and don’t really see each other. We must suck to surf with. We get in a perpetual motion of feeding off each other and just black out and don’t see anyone else in the water. People who surf with us probably get pretty bummed.
Tanner: Three’s a crowd.
No matter how good of friends you are with someone, there’s a special bond you have with your brother, can you guys speak to that?
Pat: For us to look back now, having spent so many years together being pro surfers and doing the circuit and traveling the world, I think probably the biggest takeaway is you know your brother always has your back, like 110% of the time—whether you just beat him, whether you’re being a shithead, whether stuff’s not going your way. And I think it’s probably the thing that gives you the confidence to push harder and push all the way to the end zone. I think it just makes everything so much sweeter.
Tanner: It definitely keeps you in it, having a brother. I feel like, individually, the three of us, if we weren’t brothers, we probably wouldn’t still be trying to professionally surf. You want to follow what you’re having a good time with. I feel like because we’re so tight and all into it, it keeps that connection to surf so strong.
With you guys being a more established brotherhood, what’s some advice you would give to younger brothers?
Pat: Soak every single moment in. I still think back on moments that we’ve had together and it’s so special that we get to do all these amazing things together. And then as life progresses, everyone finds their own groove and goes their own way. So, I think my advice would just be, stay in the moment and enjoy every single opportunity that you’re given.
Dane: And really understanding that the race and arc of life is long. And just appreciating, and like Pat says, stay in the moment. Just know that you could still achieve your personal best in 20 years or 40 years. And that rivalry, that sibling relationship, will always be there trying to push you and elevate you even long after the jerseys are off and you’re still living your life.
Tanner: But being on the same team as your brothers is the dream, and we’re stoked to have this opportunity with RAEN.