Interview: Can’t Steal Our Vibe - Patrick GudauskasNov 20, 2018
Part 3 of 4 in a series of surfer interviews from Vans new documentary film 'Can’t Steal Our Vibe'.
What was the most impactful moment for you, personally, from the filming of CSOV?
Most impacting thing while filming for CSOV was the power of one surfboard. As these surfboard drives have developed and evolved it has been amazing to see the potential that each surfboard has for another person. I kept just imagining the life of the surfboard from start to its eventual end, thinking of all the hands it goes through to be made and shaped and produced to being purchased, to shredded, to donated, to shipped, to received, to surfed into a whole new life in a world far away. I think as surfers we often times take for granted how special the ocean and riding waves is, and when you get to see it first hand from the new roots of surf in another community, it reminds you of why we all started and why we love it so much.
What’s your fondest memory from your trip to South Africa?
Fondest memory for me was the beach games on the ‘day of stoke’ that went down on Monwabisi Beach, Cape Town. For me it was quite surreal to be a part of the energy on the beach that day. Easily the largest group of kids that we have hosted for a Stoke-O-Rama day and when the surfing turned into capture the flag beach games, you would have thought it was the Olympics of beach activities. These kids were cheering and chanting support for different mentors and leaders of their groups. In the middle of some 300 kids popping up and chasing down the flags about 100-meters away you would have thought the next Olympic running was somewhere in the mix. They were so fast and so stoked on the games it was a really special energy!
Did you get to know any of the kids in the film’s stories?
All the mentors and surfers in the film we got to spend a lot of time with. Apish in particular I connected a lot with. We were probably of similar age and spirit and he struck me as one of the guys who had been there the longest and had some really special connections with the kids that he was in a sense ‘raising’. He had so much pride for what he was doing and for the organization that him and Tim had created, and the power that the organization now has to influence and affect so many young kids in the community. Him and Guyver really set the example for all the mentors and kids of what is possible with a positive spirit and positive mental attitude. I felt honored to learn from those guys in a lot of ways both as an organization but also as a person.
What is it about surfing that is so magical to everyone who sees it?
Surfing is the ultimate equalizer. Anyone who enters into the water gives up personal control because the power of the ocean takes over. You have to trust the ocean and respect it in so many different ways that it truly is liberating. I think this freedom that you experience when you go surfing is one of the most special things in the universe and anyone who gets to feel that is hooked for life.
What was your initial reaction when you saw all of the boards collected?
Initial reaction to the board drive, and continually forward, has just been humbling to see the generosity and willingness of so many people to become involved. I think for my brothers and I, as well as Mikey February, it’s a crazy responsibility to see it to the end zone because when someone gives you a hard-earned-money-purchased surfboard in hopes that it will go to a better home to a kid who truly needs that board, the responsibility becomes ours to make sure it finds its way to its next home. It’s been super empowering to think that everyone, in a sense, is working as a team to connect worlds apart and give the opportunity to emerging surf communities. So probably the raddest thing has been seeing the communities worlds apart connecting through surfboards and people. I love it.
What change has Waves for Change made on your life? On the lives of the children of South Africa?
Waves for Change is an inspirational organization on so many levels. They have truly redefined what is possible with surfing as a vehicle to learn and improve people’s lives. The spirit of their crew is something that really stuck with me after the trip; so positive and so energized and excited for what is possible, but also very articulate in a game plan to functionally execute ideas and lessons with the kids. I think for my brothers and I it was really a learning experience to see how they operate and the power that a group of like-minded people can have in not just their local communities but all over the continent. HUGE respect to those guys and their organization!
The kids’ lives in ZAF are undoubtedly having the opportunity to improve through the Waves for Change organization. The biggest element it seems is just opening the communication doors for the kids who experience many traumatic events in their lives at such a young age. Surfing and the beach, through their practices, have become a place of talking, trust, laughter and community. It’s something that will surely have an effect on these kids’ lives moving forward and probably help to reshape a lot of the community that they live.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to give children the gift of surfing?
I think the biggest lesson or advice from the board drives, is that no action is too small and all the small actions combined turn into big ones. It’s a domino effect of energy that builds and builds and continues to grow. Kind of that “Pass it on” spirit, or as we say “pass the positivity." It truly can inspire someone to do something local and small and still know that the energy is passing on and hopefully that person can pass it on to someone else.