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Evan Geiselman’s spirit animal is a wave pool

Evan has spent more time in wave pools than most any other pro surfer. His debut to the world came as the wonder grom in Kai Neville’s Lost Atlas. The snappy goofy foot sessioned the Canary Islands pool with Julian Wilson and Kolohe Andino in captivating, moody slow-motion.

Evan has frequented Typhoon Lagoon, competed at the Snowdonia pro event, tracked through Austin, stood in line when BSR opened their gates and tasted Kelly’s wave. In short, Mr. Geiselman is a legit wave pool connoisseur. But the young Floridian came very close to punching out of this lifetime before the current wave pool bloom.

In 2015 he pulled into a closeout at Pipe and got held under for three waves. Bodyboarding champ Andre Botha found him floating face down unconscious. Evan doesn’t remember the incident. In the big scheme of things, his recovery was brief. And once back in the water he realised just how truly lucky he is.

“My first surf after Pipeline was just in pretty bad surf. I had short hair so I felt the cold water in all the cuts in my head. But my first duck-dive stuck with me more than actually riding my first wave. It wasn’t even me riding a wave. It was the most gratifying feeling being able to surf again. It was a blessing. It made me a better person.”

Since coming back to life, Evan’s been chasing QS points (he just scored a big result in Japan) and sampling as many wave pools as possible. We spent some time with Evan to tap into his wave pool knowledge.

WORLD WAVE POOL BREAKDOWN

Siam Wave Park, Canary Islands. Murphy’s Wave System
That wave pool in the Canaries we went to when I was 16 or 17 and we were filming for Kai Neville’s Lost Atlas. We had a fun session. It wedges up nicely and we got a bunch of rights. It was our first session there and it’s a surprisingly fun wave since they can give it some size.

Typhoon Lagoon, Florida. Murphy’s Wave System
I put Typhoon Lagoon above the Canary Islands pool because I have to rep for Florida. Typhoon Lagoon is really fun if you have the right board. You can do two turns and then there’s a little air section if you’re surfing the right. They do a split peak if you want to share a mush ball with a friend. But it’s Florida and, I mean, it’s booked out for months in advance. But it’s not anything special by any means. But it is fun.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Wales. Wavegarden Lagoon Technology
It feels like you’re surfing behind a wakeboard boat. But Kelly’s is like that too. It’s really hard to get the timing right. On both Kelly’s and Snowdonia it’s that conveyor belt machine that makes the wave. Because of that, it does feel like you’re on a boat wake. So it’s tough to get the timing right. But it’s still fun. The Red Bull Unleashed event was great and the guys were ripping.

The Surf Ranch, California. Kelly Slater Wave Company Tech.
With Kelly’s… whenever someone asks me about it the first thing that come’s to mind is that you can get 10-plus second tubes there. It’s pretty crazy to think you can get the wave of your life in a pool. For the average to above average surfer it’s pretty amazing. You can sit in the barrel for 10-seconds which is hard to do anywhere in the world. For me, I find that fascinating. It took me until I was 21 until I could get a ten-second barrel. So to go to Kelly’s and do that right off the bat for the average surfer is incredible. Kelly and his team made such a perfect thing. The only thing they could’ve done better is to make it bigger so you can stand up instead of crouching.

BSR Surf Resort, Texas. American Wave Machines PerfectSwell Technology
Waco is so consistent. There is a wave every 40 secs. There’s sections for turns, barrels, airs – everything you could want as a surfer. The fun factor is through the roof. I really, really like Kelly’s wave, but on a fun factor though, I think I’d have to with Waco because I’m catching a lot more waves and I like to do tricks. Waco is just pure fun.

Surf Lakes, Yeppoon Australia. Surf Lakes System
That plunger wave in Australia? I’ve never surfed it. But from what I’ve seen it looks the most like an ocean wave out of all the wave pools. If they figure it out and make it a legitimate head-high wave that will be insane.

DESIGNING THE EVAN GEISELMAN WAVE POOL

Would love for it to have salt water. Ideally you always love to surf in salt. But there aren’t any salt water wave pools yet. So there’s probably a reason for that. My dream wave pool would be like Waco, but a foot or two bigger and ten seconds longer. That would be perfect. If they made that wave just under 20 seconds that would be perfect. That would give you more time. Because right now you have to surf it really quick.

The other option would be to make Kelly’s wave so it’s like a tube on takeoff into the barrel for 10 seconds. After that a section where you could do three turns and then maybe an air section at the end. It’s a really hard wave to surf. And it takes a while to get dailed. Those guys on the CT are surfing it really well. They make it look easy. And it’s not that easy of a wave to surf.

So yeah, like a head-high Waco with a barrel on take off. Then add a few turns and then the air section. In the ocean no wave breaks the same. When you’re on that lever like at Snowdonia, NLand and Kelly’s it makes surfing it a bit funky.

WAVE POOL COMPETITIONS

For the Olympics, in all honesty it’d be a lot better for the spectator. I’d like to see everyone getting the same chance to produce a score. I mean, the ocean is unpredictable, tide, dropping swell, wind coming up, etc. There are only so many world class waves that are accessible to competition. When you know you only get a certain number of waves, like in a pool, it puts a different pressure on you. When you paddle out for a heat in the ocean you don’t know how many waves you are going to get or what waves you are going to get. In a pool, when you say “I’m only getting three chances at this” it adds more stress.

At Kelly’s you wait four minutes between waves, so you get tense. Almost all the waves are scored. If you watch the best surfers like Medina they catch a lot of waves in the ocean. At Kelly’s it’s super nervy. You have to sit there and wait and that’s difficult competition stuff to deal with. It’s a difficult wave to surf and it’s easy to fall off. It’s different. For Stab High they give you more waves and it’s easier to surf and there’s not a long time between waves. You just stand up a few seconds and launch an air. I feel like Kelly’s was repetitious and a lot of people were doing the same thing. Although, Felipe and Yago looked great. The eight guys or top four guys surfed Kelly’s well and made it look easy because they are such great surfers.

THE FUTURE OF WAVE POOLS

In the ocean you have to put so much time to learn to read waves and the timing of the waves. But with wave pools you don’t need to learn all that. You can just learn to work on moves. Wave pools are only going to grow our sport. You pop one of those up in an inland area you’re going to have a Rick Kane scenario one day. I mean if you look at the kids who are coming up and what they are able to do, it’s amazing. If you see what they are doing in wave pools now and how big the airs are. I mean, they’re doing huge airs at a much earlier age than any guys my age.

You already have two wave pools that work well. Kelly’s and Waco. But you have the plunger one and then the Wavegarden Cove coming up too. I see more people trying to perfect it. And at the end o the day, if you can make those wave pools proper 4-to-6 foot, it’d be rad you could travel and know your’e going to get perfect surf. It’s hard to watch a chest-high wave over and over again. If you make ‘em bigger they will generate even more excitement. I feel like the pools themselves will only make money.

Surfing could be the cool like “everyone can do it it sport.” But right now it’s not open to people who are not near a beach. People will have waves and access and learn to surf much easier and then be turned on to surfing. It can only expand the sport. The only drag is the Rick Kane scenario when someone perfects their game in a pool and has to transition to the ocean!


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