Californian Gadauskas rules the waves in Ballito

2009-07-06 00:00

BALLITO – Just hours after celebrating both his 21st birthday and American Independence Day, California’s Tanner Gudauskas marked the biggest victory of his professional surfing career by taking the ASP WQS Six-Star Mr Price Pro Ballito yesterday.

Gudauskas beat Australian James Taipan Wood, rocketing to World No. 6 on the ASP World Qualifying Series and pocketing R159 000 as well as 2 500 ASP WQS rating points.

“I just can’t believe it. This is a personal best for me!” said Gudauskas. “Every night this week I’ve been going to bed dreaming about winning this contest and putting myself up there where Pat (Tanner’s brother and WQS No. 10, Patrick) was at, and it came through today so I’m fired up!”

Attacking the 30-minute final, Gudauskas rode every lump of swell, snatching an early heat lead with a 6,83 (out of 10) for some clean backhand turns, riding out in an explosion of whitewater off his final manoeuvre.

While his opponent Wood opted to play the patience game, catching his first wave at the 11 minute mark, Gudauskas projected fast out of his top turns, maintaining speed and power in the wind-affected waves to score a 6,67 and extend his lead over the Australian, who was left looking for a 7,67.

“I just got into this mindset that when the surf got worse I was going to get better and as the tide came up and it got less consistent, I just got more fired up,” said Gudauskas. “It’s crazy because I can hardly remember it, but it all came together. I’m just fired up!”

Cloaked in the American flag, Gudauskas was chaired up the beach by his older brother Dane and quarterfinalist Dylan Graves and surrounded by a sea of fans and media crew, all wanting a piece of the new champ.

“When I came out of the water and saw my brothers and friends all standing on the beach cheering, I was almost in tears,” said Gudauskas. “We have a strong crew from America now and we’re all pushing to bust down the door to make the ASP World Tour and I think this year could be the year.”

— Own Correspondent

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