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If Pat Gudausaks has learned anything on tour this year it's heartbreak. Languishing at 32nd on the ASP world tour ratings and 27th on the world rankings, this moment in his competitive career has come down to whatever magic he's able to work in Hawaii. But truth be told, his dire circumstances are not entirely his fault.
The argument could be made that while his results don't demonstrate it, he's had his best year of surfing on tour. To his resume he added "drop of the day" honors on the day of days (as termed by Kelly Slater when the Volcom Fiji Pro was called off and Cloudbreak went richter). That means a lot more than winning with a couple wiggles to the beach. At the Hurley Pro at Lowers, his home turf, he lost out to Jeremy Flores in a debatable round two heat. The Frenchman won with a turn he has on lock, Gudauskas let a huge frontside air fly. If Pipeline and Teahupoo are judged solely based on a rider's tube-riding ability, then based on the progressive tradition laid down by Christian Fletcher, Slater, Chris Ward, Shane Beschen and others, one's aerial acumen at Lowers should be the basis of the score. Right?
Some considered Gudauskas's duel against Ace Buchan in round two of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal to be the heat of the year when it went down. The two traded high 9s and deep Supertubos cylinders. Buchan got the nod. Gudauskas called it one of the best heats he's ever surfed.
There are a lot of cases where Gudauskas should have/could have had advanced, but for some inexplicable reason didn't. Although to be fair, giving Adriano De Souza that wave at the Cold Water was a self-inflicted wound.
They're all the kind of things, small mistakes or unlucky breaks, that add up, preying on one's psyche into the late hours of the night. In Slater's world title campaigns he's talked about all of the things that need to go right to win a title, unfortunately Gudauskas has experienced almost the exact opposite this year. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. He doesn't seem to let it get him down. He doesn't really let anything get him down. With his brothers by his side he marches on, guitar and surfboard in hand, smile on his face.
When the Reef Hawaiian Pro next takes the water he'll go up against Slater, Cory Lopez and Brett Simpson. Florida vs. California. More than anybody in that heat Gudauskas needs to advance. Who knows, maybe something will finally go his way this time.