Pat Gudauskas 

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America has crowned its 2008 regional champions in the men’s and women’s ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS), and Pro Junior divisions and now that the 2008 season is in the record books and the dust has settled, the nation boasts Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, and Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), 17, atop the ASP WQS regional ratings, while Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA), 19, and Christa Alves (Cocoa Beach, FL), 19, claimed this year’s ASP North America Pro Junior Series titles.

In the ASP LQS, America saw Taylor Jensen (Oceanside, CA), 24, and Cori Schumacher (Carlsbad, CA), 31, claim this year’s regional longboard championships.

All of North America’s top competitors strive each year to attain a center stage position in their respective divisions. The ASP WQS acts as a gateway for the ASP World Tour and Women’s World Tour, while junior surfers tackle their regional events in an attempt to earn a spot at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.

The ASP LQS acts similarly, as surfers work to gain a spot on the ASP World Longboard Tour (WLT). Each surfer is fighting to earn the right to advance to the next level of competition, giving them a chance to win an ASP World Championship in each of their respective divisions.

Gudauskas, who put together an amazing season throughout the year, finished 17th overall on the ASP WQS globally and claimed the title of ASP North America regional champion this year. The regional title is a goal that he had originally set out for himself at the beginning of the season.

“Winning the domestic ratings was a huge goal for me this year, along with qualification,” Gudauskas said. “I knew that with the good start in Florida this would be tangible.”
 
With so many talented surfers hailing from the United States, Gudauskas feels especially proud of his achievement of finishing atop the regional competition.

“To win the North American ratings race is a big deal to me because it asserts you as one of the top prospects coming from the talent rich continent of America,” Gudauskas said.

“I think a lot people look to American surfers to see what’s the future of both style of surfing and approach. To be amongst the top of my competitors is an accomplishment in itself, and to win it was icing on the cake. I take a lot of pride in being from America, and to be on top of the American pro ratings, it's a special thing.”

Arrambide, the America Pro Junior Series Champion, was equally satisfied with the accomplishment earned over the stiff competition throughout the year. The up-and-coming young talent is a part of several successful surfers hailing from the Ventura area and now Arrambide is hoping to claim his first ASP World Junior title in Australia this January.

“I’m stoked to have won the junior’s in 2008,” Arrambide said. “That was the goal that I had set out for myself at the beginning of last year and now I can’t wait to go to Australia. I’ve been training and surfing as much as I can to prepare for the event and am really looking forward to the contest.”

Christa Alves clinched this year’s ASP North America Pro Junior Series Women’s title with a win at the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro earlier in the year and will be accompanying fellow top surfers such as Arrambide to Australia to compete for an ASP World Junior Championship title due to her No. 1 finish regionally.

“Finishing first this year means that I finally get to represent our country,” Alves said. “I’ve worked hard, saved my money and am really excited to go.” 

Cori Schumacher, a former competitive longboard standout, had taken a sabbatical from competition starting in 2005, but she came back in top shape this year when she claimed the regional ASP LQS title at the Roxy Jam Cardiff, an ASP LQS 6-Star event, over the world’s top female longboarders at her home break.

Since Schumacher hadn’t competed in a few years, she had to begin in the opening rounds, but the Carlsbad local ended up winning every heat she entered, eventually taking out the win.

“I had competed in ’05, but 2001 was my last real contest and I felt really good going into the event at home,” Schumacher said. “I felt focused, strong and I was able to pull everything together from the first heat all the way through the Final.”

The 2009 season will play host to several increased ASP WQS events as well as many new ASP LQS contests and the opening event is just around the corner, with the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro, an ASP WQS 4-Star, beginning on January 12, 2008.