TURF: 2014 Red Bull Call ‘Em Out; Jacksonville Beach Pier, Jacksonville Beach, FL; April 5th, 2014.
ENERGY: Barely any in the water with knee to occasional waist-high bumps — but there was plenty on the beach thanks to the Surfing The Blues event, itself a part of Jax Beach’s larger Springing The Blues Festival, which brings music, food, and good times to this popular stretch of coastline.
Red Bull’s unique double elimination Call ‘Em Out bracket format also had the 16 competitors frothing to do battle in lackluster surf. The head-to-head “call out” format featured epic pairings of up-and-coming groms like Hobie Sears, hometown heroes like Justin Quintal and Brady McKenzie, family rivalries like Cody, Evan, and Tristan Thompson, smooth operators like Ryan Briggs, industry professionals like Asher Nolan, and top Florida dogs like Evan Geiselman and Blake Jones.
SLIDE: North Florida surfers dominate this contest: Asher Nolan won in 2012, Gabe Kling won in 2013, and Cody and Evan Thompson are perennial finalists. But this year, Evan “Golden” Geiselman, home in between installments on the ASP grind, was the man to beat. Geiselman lost to his frenemy, Evan Thompson — the two were even featured head to head on Red Bull’s poster for the event — early in the day. But Golden fought back through four consecutive elimination heats, beating Evan T., Briggs, and eventually Cody T. two times to claim the win. “After my loss against Evan Thompson, I made sure to kick it into an extra gear and not lose again,” Geiselman said. “I was exhausted after my second heat against Evan, but was excited to surf against Cody twice.”
THE PAIN: No doubt Evan and Cody Thompson are kicking themselves over missing out on three different chances to bust Geiselman from the bracket and claim one of the few Duval victories neither has tasted yet. But if we know these ultra-competitive brothers, they’ll just use the 2nd- and 3rd-place finishes as extra fire for their next heats.
THE MAN: Evan Geiselman no doubt — for winning in hostile territory, for persevering with one loss under his belt and his back against the wall, and for being gracious, as always. “I think this event is a really cool concept,” he said. “I just kept getting called out the whole time. I would have loved to get the chance to call someone out myself.”