BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu/Hawaii (Monday, February 3, 2014) - Twenty year-old Floridian Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach) stole the show at the Volcom Pipe Pro today, eliminating defending event champion John John Florence (Hawaii) in solid 10-foot barrels with the highest heat score of the competition. Counting top scores of 9.63 and 8.9, Geiselman’s total of 18.53 out of 20 stands unbeaten. He is now one of 32 surfers remaining as the event prepares for its final day – likely to be either tomorrow or Wednesday.
Geiselman and California’s Parker Coffin set to work early in their 25-minute, 4-man heat. Relative rookies on the ASP World Tour, both are very familiar with the hustle and pressure that comes with having four surfers jostling on a peak. Florence rarely surfs 4-man heats these days, being a world title contender on the ASP’s man-on-man Championship Tour. At Pipeline, format makes a huge difference.
Both of Geiselman’s waves consisted of critical, late air-drops into deep tubes before being blasted out by the blasting spit of the barrel. Coffin was also impressive with a 9.4 tube ride.
“I got that first one and I saw that it sparked everyone’s eyes,” said Geiselman. “Then (Parker) got his and we just kind of put the pressure on John, and not having priority… it’s tough.”
On his (His near-perfect score): “Parker was actually giving it a really good look,” said Geiselman. “I saw his eyes light up and he was actually where it was a little more makeable. I was deeper than him but I thought I can’t let him start out with such a good score off the bat, so I’d go anyway. But I made it. It worked out. It was just one of those heats where everything went my way.”
In the heat prior, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater (41, Florida) would have suffered the same fate as Florence had it not been for a late double barrel ride at Backdoor that he ultimately didn’t make. Fortunately, the first half of the ride earned enough points to edge him through with a total of only 10.6 points – uncharacteristically low for Slater at Pipe where he is regarded a “master”. He advanced in second behind an in-form Chris Ward (California).
“When you don’t have that priority phase in your heat, you don’t have the freedom to take off and line up where you want. Some waves maybe you want to ease into, some waves you maybe want to take a deep line across it… there are a lot of variables when there are four guys in the lineup. It’s just a different game. It’s equally fair, but it’s equally tough for everyone.”
Australia’s Brent Dorrington – a standout from day one when the contest was held in small sandbar rights, continued his run today in dramatically different conditions. With both a huge barrel and the worst wipeout of the day, he ultimately advanced and has his eyes set on taking it to the final.
“It’s changed a lot from the sandbar rights that we had the other day,” laughed Dorrington, “but there’s some unreal waves out there. It’s good to just take off on a few. There’s only half a dozen Aussies in the contest so it’s great to be one that’s still going. I’m just amped to surf Pipe and it’s so fun out there.”
On his horrific wipeout: “I wasn’t quite out as far as I wanted to be but I was going anyway. After I stroked a few paddles into it I knew I was a bit too late, so when I jumped off it felt like I was jumping off a 10-foot building… it felt like forever. I came up unscarred so I’m stoked. I just want to get through and make the finals.”
A flood watch has gone into effect for the Hawaiian Islands as of this-afternoon, and organizers will be assessing how this approaching front affects conditions for a possible final day tomorrow. A new swell is also forecast to fill in late tomorrow for Wednesday. The next competition call will be made at 7am tomorrow morning.