Like most years during his career, Patrick Gudauskas started 2020 off by hitting the Qualifying Series hard. With trips to China and Morocco already under his belt, he headed down to New South Wales a couple weeks early to hang with the in-laws and train before the Aussie leg kicked off.

Then the world was forced to change due to COVID-19. Gudauskas chose to stay in Australia with his wife and infant son. After three months they finally returned home to San Clemente-timing their homecoming with a good run of south swells at Lower Trestles.

Pat's since released a new edit featuring footage from an earlier score down to Mexico. And along with his brothers, they've just launched a new YouTube channel they're calling "The Vibe Up." The WSL caught up with him to catch up on where he's been and where he's heading:

So let's start at the beginning of your little adventure. You were down in Australia for the QS events and the world locked down?
Yeah, I was gearing up for a run of four events. The day before our flight to New Zealand for the event there it was announced that all flights were canceled because of the whole COVID thing. It was a shock because I was with the wife and baby, and we'd invited her parents to join us in New Zealand. So we had to make a full left turn on a straight road and decided to just stay put. We weren't really eager to be in an international airport at the time. Then there were no flights home for under ten grand for like a month and a half, so we just posted up for about three months. It was pretty amazing actually.

How so?
I've never experienced Australia like that before. We got to dial in with the local community, watch the seasons change, and really just enjoy being there without any pressure. It's like when you get to Hawaii early in the season and see new swells start showing up. For me it was like, oh, so this is what these guys are always talking about down here. The whole time was about slowing it down and just surfing and spending time with the family.

I spent a lot of time surfing with the Tour guys from that area and I think everyone was really appreciative of just that, that simple time to just be present with your family or just focus on yourself. The train is always moving, so it's nice have been able to hit that pause button. Personally, it helped open new thought processes. It was cool to press the reset button and recalibrate.

Patrick Gudauskas Gudauskas riding the rail through the arc like it was a good day at Lowers. - WSL

The biggest thing was reflecting on priorities. For sure family, and then also the ocean. Just being able to enjoy the ocean, every opportunity you have. When you have that taken that away all of a sudden you realize how important it is. It's almost been like having an injury. I've had plenty of injuries, like where you're out of the water for four months. The only thing you can think about is just being able to have that freedom to go jump into the ocean. So it was a revitalizing thing for me and our family.

But it must have felt good to get home to California?
We came home to some incredible south swells here, epic weather and it's great to get connected back into the community again. It's all a family here. And I'm excited about a lot of really fun, creative projects outside of the jersey that have been rewarding.

Like what?
My brothers and I just launched a new YouTube channel we're calling "The Vibe Up." It's just an organic thing. Like super mellow. We have a hand in a lot of different operations we just wanted a way to share some of that content. It's super low key, casual and fun. The ideas is for Dane, Tanner and me to use this as a creative platform to share surfing, conversations and other stuff we're up to. It's already had some really cool traction. Some of the ideas that we've been working on are going to come out the next few months and I think there's going to be some really great commentary on surf culture.

Patrick Gudauskas Gudauskas nose picking with undertones of Dane Reynolds. - WSL

And what about your boards, what have you been riding to keep things interesting these days?
I picked up a bunch of boards off the rack in Australia. I grabbed a 6'10 C.I. mid-length, a Fishbeard and a couple others. What's cool is I saw guys like Owen Wright, Conner O'Leary and Soli Baily surfing a lot and they were all trying out different boards. Normally you'd be on a shortboard tuning up. For me that would be on a C.I. Fever, but Owen out there on a 6'9" single-fin. It was sick because everyone has had the freedom now to really experiment.

I'm really excited to see what happens when the Tour comes back because I think that's one thing that's missing for those guys is the time to try other stuff and experiment with designs. It'll change how you approach the wave and the lines you draw. It really opens up new aspects of surfing. That's what I've been kind of focusing on, really embracing the time to create that change and that evolution.

The guy I've actually been looking at the most and inspired by is Josh Kerr. He literally looks like he's having more fun than anyone. And he's taking such unique lines with all the different boards but still at a super high-performance level. He's been like my number one inspiration

The business of surfing still has a lot to sort out before we're back to "normal," but the love for surfing seems like it's never been stronger?
It's kind of a "thank goodness moment," I think. It feels like with all the different directions surfing has been growing into and changing, the biggest takeaway from COVID is that as a surfer, regardless of being professional or not, there's a really strong love for surfing in so many people and it's so evident right now. It gets me fired up to be a surfer, you know. I think it's going to be really good for the whole sport.

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