Interview: Can’t Steal Our Vibe - Tanner GudauskasNov 21, 2018
Part 4 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 while filming CSOV?
During the filming it was unbelievable to see where the kids were coming from that live in the townships and work at the camps with Waves For Change. Cape Town is such a diverse area; it was really special to go to the townships and meet the instructors at their houses, go to the schools and pick the kids up and head to the beach. It gave a lot of perspective to how important the community Waves For Change is creating and how great the ocean is to have and be able to share with friends.
What’s your fondest memory from your trip to South Africa?
The Stoke-O-Rama is going to be hard to beat! What a special day!! At one point the entire beach enclosed a square in the sand with all the people, maybe 500 people all chanting and hooting for beach games. Pat, Dane, Mike and I played a game of beach flags in the square with everyone cheering; it felt like something out of The Endless Summer. It was a really special moment on a rad day.
Did you get to know any of the kids in the film’s stories?
Rwandile became a good friend through the process of the trip. He is an instructor that opted into the courses later than a lot of the other kids. He was getting into some gang violence and tough trouble and had a friend bring him to the beach and introduce him to Tim and the Waves For Change crew. His stories and perspectives were absolutely incredible to listen to. I left him my wetsuit with the checkers on it and he was all fired up. The next day we came down to Muizenberg, where he is a lifeguard on the beach, and he was wearing it head to toe with his lifeguard shorts and hat over the top of it! I wish I had a photo of it! He was so stoked on the suit because he was the only one to have the checkers. We had a lot of great hang time with all the crew actually; it was really a special trip.
What is it about surfing that is so magical to everyone who sees it?
I think the thing about surfing that makes it different from any sport in the world is that it directly interacts with the ocean which is always going to be uncontrollable. That humbling aspect as well as the lifestyle of surfing creates such a relaxing attitude. It’s not so machismo in the sense of competitive drive in everything. Surfing is inclusive. It’s an identity. I think over the course of my life I've come to realize in the traveling that you identify yourself as a surfer first, American (or whatever country you come from) second. It’s one big family because surfing is still fairly small in the sense of the globe size. That’s why I believe the support of these board drives has been so much, because as a surfer you really would want to help give another person that opportunity to experience how special it really is, knowing that it definitely has the potential to change their life for the better.
What was your initial reaction when you saw all of the boards collected?
The whole process from starting the Positive Vibe Warriors to starting the Stoke-O-Ramas and now the board drives has been really amazing. The support and love the surf community gives is next level. Deeply grateful would be how I was feeling seeing all the boards. And super inspired because I knew that this might give a lot of kids the potential to surf all through Africa and might change the look of surf culture there eventually. We are really just the platform though. That’s what’s really awesome because essentially the people who donate the boards are the true warriors. We are facilitating a good thing, but the surfing community getting behind it is what gives it the fire and steam. I love the entire process, front to back, feeling connected to seeing a place that can use help and then trying our best to get involved.
What change has Waves for Change made on your life? On the lives of the children of South Africa?
Waves For Change is an absolutely game changing organization. Definitely has left a long-lasting impact with me. The surf therapy aspect that they are teaching the kids when they come to the beach is a very universal thing. Communication is the key to happiness for humanity I believe. After seeing the conditions and things the children are dealing with on a day to day level, being able to have someone there to talk with is the most important thing. So whether or not you have things you need to get off your chest, or if you can be there for someone else who can use a hand getting through something it creates such a bond between humans. There is a lot of negativity and hatred in the world. A lot of people more afraid of opening communications to get through hardships than trying to understand without judgement what someone else is going through or believes in. Surfing is only a small community of humans on the globe; it has been really rad feeling so much in common with others all around the world. Being there for each other is important because they can always find negativity elsewhere. Hopefully it is not out in the water!
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to give children the gift of surfing?
HAVE FUN! MAKE IT FUN! Surfing isn’t a serious thing. Our dad and mom have always instilled that side of surfing, whether it was the slogan, “School is number one, surfing is just for fun,” or just having family beach days growing up the ocean is the playground. We as surfers are so lucky to be able to experience it so passing that joy forward is a great thing to do. It’s hard not to smile when you are in the water!