UPDATE: Evan Geiselman won the Vans Pro Men's QS 3000 on Sunday, August 28th.
Florida surfers have racked up 20 world titles since the sport's inception. Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Frieda Zamba and CJ Hobgood were the tip of a very potent spear that included CT stalwarts like Shea and Cory Lopez and Damien Hobgood. These were just a few of the characters who helped put Florida's surfing scene at the very top in the 1990s.
But Florida's hit a rough patch of late. The next batch of fresh-faced surfers from the Sunshine State have been slow to defend the sport's legacy. There's been a lengthy dry spell of fresh Florida faces on the CT.
Evan Geiselman is still hoping to change that.
The New Smryna Beach, Fla. native has been a recognizable face since his pre-teen days. He grew up under the media microscope, competing against out-of-state rivals like Kolohe Andino, John John Florence, and Ezekiel Lau. While his peers have enjoyed considerable competitive success, Geiselman has had a tougher slog. He finished No. 32 on the Qualifying Series (QS) last year, before nearly drowning at Pipeline in December.
The 22-year-old has made a phenomenal recovery. And the incident seems to have been life altering, because he's climbed to No. 10 on the QS, and he's done it while keeping the East Coast close to his chest. Florida, after all, is still his primary home. Here's what Evan had to say about the following topics when we caught up with him at the Vans Pro Men's QS3,000 in Virginia Beach this week -- where he awaits his Quarterfinal heat on finals day Sunday, August 28.
On Taking His First QS Victory and Coming Back From Injury
After that injury I took about a month or so off and was back pretty quick but, other than my breathing which took a couple months to get back, I felt pretty good. Everything's been great since, even better it feels like, and I wouldn't have thought I'd have the start to this year that's unfolding now.
To get that win early on definitely helps since now I just have to back it up with more results. The last two haven't been as good as I would've hoped, but there's still plenty of chances and just have to stay positive.
Keeping The East Coast His Home
I still live in Florida but spend about three or four months throughout the summer in California. It's definitely not the surfing, it's the people and it's home to me. It's where I grew up. My family and friends are here, and there's so much to do with a bunch of outdoor activities. It feels like home.
I love California but it just gets a little too crowded and chaotic out there for me. It's been great to come home and regroup to get my mind off full-on competition mode. My friends and family are all around me and it's just so nice.
On Qualifying For The Dream Tour
It's been a big goal of mine. Definitely been a dream since I was a little kid and really how I define my career -- I'm a really competitive person and want to get to that level. The funny thing about last year, I didn't even have a seed in the prime events at the beginning of the year. But then in the second half it all just kind of came to me and ended up with a few good results so I'm hoping for another roll like that.
On The Vans Pro Men's QS3,000
It's the only one on the East Coast and it's one that I won't miss. Being over here it'd be great to see more start popping up, and even though this won't be the highest rated event for me it's one I take seriously. If you win this event it's definitely a keeper. Especially with three prime events falling off schedule, if you're throwing away 3,000 points then you're qualifying.
I'm really comfortable at Virginia Beach. Growing up on the East Coast I always make it up there and have probably been competing there the last six years if I had to guess. It's nice to start my run here and get things going, win a few heats, and build going into Europe.
On The QS Grind
For me I like when events are strung together instead of one event, take a month off, then do another. It's pretty hard to jump back into a competition after a stint like that. I'd rather just keep surfing, build my confidence, and keep making heats -- it helps to find that rhythm and know what's getting you through heats.
The QS can be weird. Japan went my way and I was on, but then you can just go quiet. Guys like Connor O'Leary winning Ballito and then he lost in the first heat at the US Open are a perfect example. There's just a lot of great guys which makes it that much more fun though. If you just get those five results and stay competitive, stay consistent -- that's the key.
One of the hardest parts is just trying to stay present and not get caught up in three events from now or the end of year. I feel like if you get consumed by the competition of the QS all day, every day, it can get pretty hard. I like to do other hobbies to keep my mind off things then come game time get right back into it.