The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Shoe City Pro QS1000 finished competition today in consistent four-to-six foot, rebuilding swell that provided plenty of high-scoring opportunity which surfers did not let go to waste. Ending a marathon day of competition with the men's Final, Patrick Gudauskas took full advantage of the unrelenting waves and capped it off with an incredible win over Nate Yeomans (USA).
"I'm so stoked to come out of this one with a win at the first event of the year," Gudauskas said. "It was so fun out there but wave choice was huge because there were some really long ones and if you snagged one of those then you had to make that tough paddle all the way back out. I'm just really psyched to win this contest after an incredible day of surfing - there were some really good battles all day and that just topped it off. Nate's been surfing well this whole event and to come against him in the Final was great."
It was not an easy road to the Final for Gudauskas, dealing with Chris Waring (USA) in a dramatic Semifinal. The San Clemente native sat and had to watch Waring take off on a last minute wave that he rode all the way to shore, but was unable to complete the finishing maneuver to pull off a comeback - putting Gudauskas into the Final.
"Waring knows this wave better than anyone," Gudauskas said. "He was surfing so great out there and when he caught that last wave I wasn't sure I would've been able to do anything out there if he had gotten the score. Those are the sickest heats to be a part of and really test you as a surfer. I had those all day long and couldn't be happier to make them. I'm really excited for this year after that win."
Fellow San Clemente surfer Nate Yeomans (USA) put on a showcase of high-performance surfing that took him all the way to the Final. Posting big scores, including a buzzer-beating Semifinal wave to overtake an in-form Dylan Goodale (HAW), Yeomans secured multiple excellent waves but couldn't overtake Gudauskas.
"That Semifinal heat with Dylan was just scary," Yeomans said. "I made a couple of mistakes and it all came down to the wire but I was able to get that score on the last wave. But, it's those heats that really show if you stay confident and give it your best shot sometimes it'll go your way - there's just so many variables in surfing you have to be confident in your ability."
"That Final with Pat was insane and it's just a great way to start the year," Yeomans added. "My goals this year are to win events and I was only one spot away from that in this contest. I'm really just focusing on each event at a time and giving it my all. I think by doing that, qualifying and everything will fall into place."
Making a great run at the first QS title of 2016, Chris Waring (USA) nearly took down Gudauskas on his final wave of the heat - coming just short by .50. Looking back on a great performance, Waring will be able to take away some positives from this event despite the heavy blow of narrowly missing a Final.
"It's cool that there's a contest here and I really wanted to win so I'm definitely bummed," Waring said. "Thought I had it but I got a little too weak on the end section. My legs were feeling really heavy and tried to come in with the paddle out being really rough but just got stuck in the inside. That last wave I needed an 8.90 and came up short with an 8.40 and it was over after that. Pat was ripping though so if I was going to lose to anyone it wasn't a horrible way to go out."
Facing off against the in-form Yeomans in the first Semifinal, Dylan Goodale (HAW) was on the wrong end of a buzzer beater and fell just short of a Finals appearance. Despite the heartbreaker, Goodale got his year off to a great start by winning his first two heats and will head back to Hawaii for the Sunset Pro with some momentum behind him.
"It feels good to get the year going and have some fun waves all the way through," Goodale said. "It was great waking up early to get some surfs in and have a good start to the year. I came out to do some stuff with my sponsor and tried to time with this just to get the jersey on. Definitely wanted to do one heat better but it's good to get some points and I'll go back to Hawaii on Saturday to get ready for the next one out there."