In sports, home turf can play a critical role in any game. That's why it's called home field advantage, you've got that edge from doing your normal thing, you're not living out of a suitcase, and the crowd always adds that boost of motivation.
Though Tanner Gudauskas is from San Clemente and not Huntington, home is only a half hour drive down the 5 for the Gudauskas clan. So that semi-home field advantage has certainly been a help for the youngest Gudauskas this week at the mega-event that is the US Open of Surfing. And it certainly carried over for him today, especially since the stacked final of the O'Neill US Open Pro Junior consisted of Aussies Julian Wilson and Chris Salisbury, along with Santa Cruz ripper Nat Young.
Heading into the final it was really anyone's heat to take though: Julian just won less than a month ago here at the pier in the Nike Pier Pressure Pro Junior, Nat Young is still polishing that National Title cup, and Chris Salisbury can go off at any time.
Julian Wilson came out firing with an 8.5 right off the bat from a right he worked to the inside to grab himself a solid floater section after a few cutties. Julian continued throughout the entire heat to go big with multiple air reverses and posted up a crisp 6.5 from one of them. Chris Salisbury started off quick with a 5.17 and an 8.33 with his polished style getting him the scores. Though he pulled a solid backside floater, he couldn't seem to get it going after those two scores. Nat started off with a 3.5 and followed it with a 7.43, using his groomed backside attack to hack away. Tanner quickly found the lefts he was looking for though, and his weaving to the inside was rewarded with a big smack on the little wall up section.
On his 8.5 that took the lead from Julian, Tanner started off with an air reverse on the outside and again worked his way for another inside section hit. "After the 8.5, I knew Julian, Nat, or Chris could turn on any second, I just wanted to get one more solid score," the youngest G brother had to say.
And get another tight score he did. He pulled in a 6.8 from an air reverse, followed by multiple smooth cutbacks on the inside. That pretty much secured it for Tanner, and it was just a waiting game to see whether or not Julian could get the right wave to come through, which it never did.
That semi-home field advantage was evident when the horn sounded and the crowd was elated, and Tanner was feeling it: "The win so close to home feels amazing. All my friends and family were here, and I saw them cheering at the end, I was so stoked."
The other two Gudauskas boys carried their victorious sibling out of the water, and it was nothing but smiles for the whole family. And home is only a short drive away, so no doubt the celebration will be starting quick. Congrats to Tanner. –Ryan "Dirty Jerz" Brower