gudauskas brothers

Behind the Scenes with Surfing’s Boisterous Brothers

Words: Vanda Gyuris
Photo above: Zach Lyons; Photos below: Gudauskas Brothers

Surfing’s ultimate trio, the Gudauskas brothers, returned in a new season of Vans’ original series Down Days this month. From learning to ride Icelandic horses to breaking down barriers between Israeli and Palestinian surf communities, the show follows the colorful crew on their journey around the world in search of waves, culture and unlikely new friends. 

Born and raised in San Clemente, Calif., younger brother Tanner and twins Dane and Patrick grew up in the heart of Southern California surf culture. Encouraged by their surfing parents, the brothers would be out in the water at 6 a.m. almost every day before school. Unsurprisingly, the trio has a distinctly blithe approach to life—when they enter a room you can’t help but laugh along as they dive into the details of their trips across the world in search of unsullied waves. The brothers have accomplished what so many only dream to do—when their friends went off to college or office jobs, they were gearing up for surf trips as sponsored athletes. Their careers in the water have served as a vehicle for exploring the globe and finding unexpected commonalities in the most remote of regions. 

gudauskas brothers

From left to right: Dane, Patrick and Tanner.

Individually, each brother has his own distinct charm and character; together they are a certifiable riot. Straightforward with a demeanor that suggests calculated precision and an inherently competitive nature, Pat’s accolades include a season on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) and the execution of the first ever “rodeo flip” in a world tour competition at famous reef break Teahupoo in Tahiti. Friendly and bright-eyed, the youngest of the Gudauskas brothers, Tanner, is currently ranked 26th in the world tour qualifying series; 10th place gets you on the WCT and the 26-year-old has his sights set on getting a spot next year. Wild card Dane rounds out the brotherhood with shaggy sun-soaked locks, big wave pursuits and soul surfing expeditions into far-flung locales. Although it’s rare to find them at home, the brothers share a house in San Clemente, surfing together when they can at the same breaks they enjoyed growing up.

As the second season of Vans’ original series Down Days drops its final episode this week, we dive into some behind the scenes shots of their trips across Israel, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Morocco and a few from season one in Germany. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: This photo is taken from the bridge going over the river in Munich. There are people that line up on the bridge, and then people on each side waiting for their turn. You have to kind of become part of the crew to ride the wave so I was a little nervous. It actually felt more like skating than surfing; it was like you were having a session with the whole crew and it was really intimate. Just like a half pipe, you jump in and take your turn while everyone around you is watching.
Pat: The little groms improve so quickly here because they surf the same wave every day. There are only a few people who do this so you kind of have to be diehard in this environment and there is a huge camaraderie. It’s interesting that they completely identify with the global surf community, having their own little theories on boards and fins.

gudauskas brothers

Pat: Tanner’s sitting in this geothermal spa with silica on his face. This stuff instantly hardens, and once you scrub it off it’s really exfoliating.
Tanner: The whole lagoon is this milky color blue and you just see people’s heads around you. It’s almost like a resort or a day spa where you can have beers and relax. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: This is in the bathroom of this restaurant we went to in Israel. The lady in charge of it was very zany so I could totally see this happening there. Everything in the place was handmade and the food was incredibly fresh. It was like going to your aunt’s house. She just whipped up a fresh batch of food and a crew of friends came to play music. 

gudauskas brothers

Pat: I don’t like snakes, at all. So of course they were like, “Yeah, you over there.” Once the camera came out the snake charmers were so excited. The photo is deceiving because the snake was actually super close to my face. I was stressing that the smaller snake was going to upset the bigger one. And then there were vipers all around me on the ground.
Dane: You’ll be walking in the market and then kind of just see it starting in a little huddle on the side. As soon as the snake charmers saw the cameras, they were like “show time,” and you’re going deep into snake land. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: This is at the Festival of Heads. We showed up and everyone was just running around in the streets with these giant mannequin heads on.
Pat: I think it reflects the whole color of Puerto Rico in general. Our whole trip it felt like there was music following us everywhere we went. There was so much vibrant energy, from the color of the buildings to the people and the sounds. 

gudauskas brothers

Pat: This is a shot of the beautiful imagery of the countryside and it makes me think of the temperatures in the Alps. Just so cold.
Dane: It was cool because we got to go out into the countryside and make cheese from scratch. They have some of the best cheese in the world because the cows graze these open fields of grass. They’re happy cows, making happy cheese. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: Iceland in the summer is so green. Everywhere we went it felt like it was raining waterfalls—you can’t drive 100 yards without seeing a new one. You can just pull over on the side of the road and camp anywhere in the countryside there, so this guy has got it pretty nice. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: These guys were so pumped to share their moonshine with us. They cooked us this huge meal with the pig and everything. The coolest thing on these trips is seeing people’s pride in their culture. To see that excitement and pride in every place you go is just incredible. They were excited to share the history of this moonshine with us. It stands for “Tears of the River.”
Pat: By the time this photo was taken we had sampled more than enough homemade rum, and then they had us go into the distillery where we tried 106-proof moonshine—that was just nuclear. 

gudauskas brothers

Dane: I think it won’t be long until they have a world-class surfer out of Tel Aviv as surfing continues to blossom in Israel. We met this guy named Arthur who runs a surf shop in Tel Aviv and organizes a group called Surfing for Peace. They try to bring Palestinians and Israelis together in the water to get rid of the animosity.
Pat: The energy of the surfers was really intense in Tel Aviv. If you spend a day in Jerusalem you can definitely feel that animosity between religions and territories. Having that experience, and then going to the beach and seeing the walls come down in the water as you paddled out into the ocean, it made you feel good to be a surfer. Interacting with the ocean is the most important thing, and as a surfer you identify with that first and everything else after. 

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