Dane Gudauskas' SPIRIT ANIMAL
Dane Gudauskas: Relentless optimism and unbridled enthusiasm
The tide had been dropping, the swell and wind increasing. “Guys were getting annihilated,” said Dane. He was thinking about the risk vs. reward in even catching a wave. He’d only seen Cloudbreak under perfect conditions; May 25 was huge and anything but. Dane figured the safest line was a lateral one, which meant pulling into the barrel. Yet there were very few barrels. Lips cascaded and chandeliered. In many instances, straightening out was the safest line. But that presented its own risks, and after Gold’s wipeout, everyone knew what was at stake. Dane spent his second session wheeling and dodging, looking for his wave, his line. In the end, he didn’t catch a single ride and paddled back to the boat.
“Surfing Cloudbreak is like a conversation,” he said. “It’s give and take, and you have no idea what’s coming down the line.”
Cloudbreak had been special to Dane; he saw riding it as inching closer to becoming the surfer he wanted to be, and he had devoted himself to learning its intricacies. It’s possible that this is why he noticed the slightest shift as the devil winds turned east for a moment. He paddled out for a third time, thinking he just needed to get a wave to shake the nerves off. The first one was a smaller runner. The winds held east, however, and Dane took a chance on a bigger one, just a drop with no barrel. The first two waves seemed to set a rhythm, and back in the lineup, Dane saw what he recognized as that perfect, amplified “4-footer” and spun for it. Even in real time, the drop lasted an especially long duration. The nose of his 7’4” plowed through a wake that threatened to undo him. Dane bottom turned and took his lateral line into a huge barrel. The big board felt like riding a toboggan. The inside of the wave was radiant. “It was glowing blue; everything was blue,” Dane said. “I came out a blue person.”