Photos by O'Neill / Sergio Villalba
Words by Malcolm Johnson
It's a chilly afternoon in Tofino. The light has that look that it tends to have in the autumn here—bright, soluble, a saturated green tinged with a saturated gold. Shoulder-high surf is crumbling onto the sand, and showers are streaming from the sky out at Echachis, the tree-covered islet where the Tla-o-qui-aht whaling site was back before the smallpox days. The beach is emptying, and Eric Geiselman is standing off to the side, a bottle of cheap champagne in hand. An hour ago, he landed a Kerrupt for a wave score of 9.10 and a slot in the final of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada. Now, after surfing heats through five days of chunky beachbreak, he's the Almost-There. An on-form Josh Kerr edged him at the end, but the Floridian is happy and smiling and $10,000 richer. We look out to sea as he weighs in on his week in Clayoquot Sound.
On the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada:
"I came up here last year, so I kinda knew what to expect. But this year the waves were good and the water wasn't too cold, and everything worked out really good for me. I'm stoked. It's been a good week—I've been low key and staying with Cory and Nils from back home. We had a good crew this week, but mostly I'm just stoked to get a good result. It's pretty much my first one ever."
"It's definitely different here than back home. The water's different for sure. But the waves are pretty standard beachbreak stuff, so I felt pretty good out there. I felt like I was getting in a rhythm, which was nice for once. I'm never really in rhythm in a heat, so it was good to go through a whole contest and start to feel settled and get waves the whole way."
On Getting Scores:
"All in all, you just had to pick the best waves you could. Not falling was crucial, and completing waves seemed to really make a difference to the judges. The waves here are pretty short, so I was just trying to find a good one with an open face that would let you smash it to the end. Either that or a good air section—something where you could do a turn and a good air. I'm just stoked. I can't even believe it. That flip, especially—I hadn't done anything that heat, and that basically saved me. I was pretty lucky that wave gave me a section like that and I was able to pull it."
On Canada and Canadians:
"The food's really good here. That's probably my favourite thing in Canada. It's pricey, but it's really good and really fresh. I don't know what I think of Canadians, though —we haven't got out that much. We have a really sick house on the beach, so we've been laying low. I'll find out tonight, I guess. I'm going to the bar."
O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada Final Result:
1 – Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.10
2 – Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.20
O'Neill Cold Water Classic Canada Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.64 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.17
SF 2: Eric Geiselman (USA) 13.42 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 10.96