Ocean City Pro Surfer Andrew Gesler’s Career Coming Full Circle

first_imgAlex DePhillipo & Andrew Gesler“Time is a funny thing,” Andrew Gesler mused during a recent conversation with OCNJDaily.“To be able to grow up with the sport I love and to be another link in a long chain of people who have (advanced the sport) has been pretty amazing. In a way my career has been a parallel to surfing’s growth.”And Gesler has ridden the sport’s surging popularity as adroitly as a Pipeline barrel. “My focus has progressed from competition to the media side of the sport,” he said.  I am really lucky to be doing something that I love and making a living at it.”The 32-year-old Gesler is an Ocean City native and Ocean City High grad who grew up on Wesley Road and still considers North Street beach “my home break.”He went from standing up on his boogie board to mastering his first used board around age 10 to becoming a member of the 7th St. Surf Shop’s team as a teenager. He put their sticker on his board, their clothes on his back and in exchange was given entry fees to local surf contests and a 50 percent discount on things he bought there.Around the water his whole life and encouraged by parents Keith and Kathy, a pro surfing career soon became his dream, his passion and his ambition – much to the chagrin of guidance counselors.“I was a good student, taking (advanced placement) physics and calculus. When teachers and counselors asked what my plan was, I said ‘the plan is to surf.’  They said ‘that’s not a plan’ and I said ‘it is to me.’ At that point I was committed.”It wasn’t long after graduation that he began competing and winning contests all over the East Coast. He picked up some early sponsors and was soon traveling around the country. He basically received free clothing, surfboards and a budget to travel to events. His compensation was incentive-based.“I was a professional, but it was a hard life. I was selling some of the boards I received just so that I could eat.”Despite the minimalist existence, he performed well on the waves and when he was 20 years old got a call that changed everything.“It was during a trip to California that one of my sponsors informed me that I was going to Australia to compete and then would be entered in three events in Brazil. “It was pure excitement at that point. I had been struggling up to that point. Here I was on a plane with guys I was in awe of growing up, like Chris Ward, and within a couple days we were friends. It was certainly a quantum leap.”In 2005 Andrew’s career took a different turn when his daughter Rory was born and single fatherhood presented some new challenges. He stepped away from incentives and held out for events that guaranteed a paycheck.  But he felt as if his career was in jeopardy.For a period of about a year, I wasn’t feeling good about my surfing or that I was still relevant. But Chris Drummy, a representative of Fox clothing, one of his main sponsors, renewed his contract and gave Gesler a raise.“That reaffirmed my purpose and confidence that I could still compete on a national level,” he said.Around that time, the Internet changed the sport and how the pros were compensated. It previously had to do with the print media.  “Before, you could make $10,000 from a sponsor for getting on the cover of Surfer magazine.  Things shifted to websites and hits and technology.  You could make real money.”Influenced by high school buddy Robbie Beach who had made some early surf videos, Gesler partnered with Alex DePhillipo to form Darkfall Productions. They made surfing videos, films and did video production work for businesses, including the Borgata Hotel and Casino. He picked up Hurley Clothing as a major sponsor along with Heritage Surf Shops.“I had come full circle, surfing on the boards I had used as a kid. The single fin short board I learned to surf on was shaped by Dan Heritage. I still compete. But mostly I do ambassador type work for Hurley and focus on the video side.”Readers may check out his work on the website www.darkfallproductions.tv.Andrew currently resides in Egg Harbor Twp with his wife Jeannine and son Gavin. Rory lives with him in the summer and with her Mom in California during the school year. Life is good and he knows he made the right decision to pursue his favorite sport as his profession.Today surfers can watch the weather on numerous websites, follow other surfers on Instagram and Facebook, watch their latest sessions and competitions on Surfline.“Sometimes I wish I could go back and watch myself when I was younger, but we didn’t have that stuff back then. I’m excited to see where we are going next.”“I owe surfing a lot,” he said. “Surfing has given me most everything I have in my life.”last_img

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