It’s no secret that surfers and bodyboarders do not always see eye to eye. Of course, in many instances they peacefully coexist. However, some surfers believe bodyboarders do not deserve any respect because their sport doesn’t take much skill. Bodyboarders, on the other hand, think surfers drop in on them too often. Others think that bodyboarding deserves more respect than it receives. This often creates a major problem between both groups, as their personal beliefs sometimes conflict with how they behave in the lineup, which leads to arguments and even fights.
This past Sunday at Pipeline, something tragic yet beautiful accidentally happened all in an instant. Pro surfer Evan Geiselman pulled into a huge closeout, hit his head on the reef, and was held under by a three-wave set. Luckily, two-time world bodyboarding champion Andre Botha rescued Geiselman despite huge surf and heavy currents. Botha was able to tread water and provide oxygen to the unconscious Geiselman until pro surfers Mick Fanning, Kalani Chapman, and the North Shore lifeguards were able to assist Botha in bringing Geiselman to shore. Miraculously, Evan Geiselman made it to Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu and is expected to make a full recovery.
Since this happened, so much well-deserved love and respect has been sent to Andre Botha, Evan Geiselman, and both the surfing and bodyboarding community. In this single instance, the rivalry was meaningless, and there was no mention of who rode which board. Rather, it was about saving a fellow shredder and human being before it was too late.
The incident should make everyone reevaluate this meaningless dichotomy. How important are these beliefs? Why does it take a tragedy like this to tell the world that bodyboarders and surfers aren’t so different after all? And, of course, could this rescue help bridge the gap between surfers and bodyboarders? I sure think it should.
Of course, this was a tragic moment, and I am so glad to hear Evan is expected to recover. But, it also inadvertently sent a message to the world stating it doesn’t matter which board you ride. We’re all brothers and sisters out there in the lineup, and when something tragic happens, all the other stuff doesn’t matter.