When San Clemente’s Gudauskas brothers launched their non-profit Positive Vibe Warriors a decade ago, it was all about one thing: sharing the stoke.
The well-known pro surfing trio held free surf contests at beaches around the globe to raise money for youth water safety programs, and they gathered thousands of donated surfboards and hand-delivered them to underprivileged kids so they could enjoy the thrill of riding waves.
But with the coronavirus last year halting travel and gatherings, the brothers started thinking of new ways to give back to the surf community they hold dear.
They hit on the idea of launching their own line of soft-top boards – a bodyboard, a longboard and a smaller progressive board for more advanced riders – with a portion of the proceeds to go back to charities and groups with similar surf-related missions of helping others.
“We realized the soft tops were the access points to getting people in the water, no matter the background or where you were in the world,” said Dane Gudauskas, joined by twin brother Pat and younger brother Tanner on a recent day in their hometown. “These make it easier to get in the water and have a good time.”
Soft-top boards are often used by novices because they’re easier to learn on and less harmful if they hit a rider. Yeqars ago, such boards were considered only for beginners, but these days surf brands creating boards experienced riders can use for not-so-serious surf sessions are a growing trend.
For Pat Gudauskas, the goal was inclusivity, with the boards as the “access point” to get people in the ocean – an activity that transformed the brothers’ lives.
“You can see the ocean is the catalyst to healing and learning, or connection,” he said.
All the boards are made in the U.S. with recyclable foam, which helps address a problem that plagues the surf industry: the use of chemicals and materials that are bad for the environment. The foam on their black boards can be broken down and taken to manufacturers that will reuse it.
The material is non-absorbent and more durable than some widely available soft-top brands made overseas, which are laminated on the bottom, break easily and quickly end up as waste.
“These are actually made from a mold,” Pat Gudauskas said. “It’s different from the other ones that get waterlogged or just snap easy.”
The new venture comes down to one question the brothers asked themselves: “How can we help the next generation grow up in a better place?”
The trio grew up in San Clemente, for years doing junior lifeguards and pushing each other to excel in the surf at T-Street and Lower Trestles.
All three became familiar names on the competitive surfing circuit, traveling the world to compete, though in recent years they’ve put more effort toward their non-profit.
Their journey of giving back started in 2010, when they teamed up with long-time sponsor Vans to create the Stoke-O-Rama, a laid-back contest that’s free for young surfers and over the years raised $100,000 to support youth water safety programs around the country.
In 2016, the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation began the first of three board drives, resulting in thousands of used, donated surfboards distributed in communities in Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
The new soft-top boards with the Positive Vibe Warrior logo will continue that altruistic mission, with 10% of sale proceeds going back into the non-profit organization to support emerging surf communities.
“Our goal can be to support them and empower them to do the work in their communities that they are doing on a daily basis … we feel really passionate about supporting them with these partnerships,” Dane Gudauskas said.
One of the projects they’ll help fund is the City Surf Project, a group based in San Francisco that helps get kids off the streets and in the water. The project’s Surf Instructor Leadership Training (SILT) will use some of the Gudauskas brothers’ new boards to teach the next generation.
“They take those skills they learn in the ocean and take them back to the communities where they are and feel that sense of empowerment, which is really beautiful,” said Dane Gudauskas.
Another venture will help a surf team in Nigeria, where about 15 kids are aspiring to be competitive surfers. Sales of the Positive Vibe Warrior surfboards will help a local shaper there make custom boards they can use in competitions.
For the brothers, riding perfect waves is fun – but helping others find the surf stoke is even more rewarding.
“The (waves) you share with people – or turning them on to (surfing) for the first time – is the best experience, the most fulfilling. More then any other ride in your life,” Dane Gudauskas said. “And just knowing these are the vehicles where people can access that opportunity to come together and share – it just gets me super stoked.”
Source: Orange County Register