Boardrider of the Month: Greg Meischeid
Greg Meischeid celebrated his 50th birthday this past September 4th, but that’s not why he’s here. He’s this month’s “Boardrider of the Month” because of his boundless passion for the ocean and his enviable mastery of virtually every boardsport out there.
Born in Melbourne, Greg went to Eau Gallie High and has worked with CSR for 25 years at multiple spots around the globe. Now living cozily in Cocoa Beach in one of the sweetest surf pads we’ve seen, Greg currently works on the Multiple Object Tracking Radar at KSC.
He first started surfing in 1974 at the Indialantic Boardwalk and Tampa Ave, but his local spot during the ’80s was Paradise Beach in Melbourne with the Eau Gallie crew. “I also skateboarded all over the place,” he says, “picked up windsurfing in ’84 or ’85, snowboarding in ’89, and kiteboarding in ’99. Now it’s paddle time with the SUP. What’s next?”
That next big thing could be seagull-harnessed water skates, for all Greg cares. As long as there’s a new way for him to satisfy his hunger for waves, you can bet he’ll be first in the lineup.
Describe how you felt when you caught your first wave.
Stoked. I had no idea how much it would change my life and relationship with the ocean.
What was your first board?
Either a 5’7″ Tombs and Reeves or a 6’4″ MTB.
What’s in your quiver now?
For kiteboarding, my go-to board in our normal mushy conditions is the 5’0″ Josh Sleigh Placebo surfboard. It will get going in light winds and has a full-on skate feel. It’s jumpable with straps. It’s like a moving skatepark out there, and this board is easy and fun. When the waves are on with nice sideshore conditions and some size to them, it’s back to the basic squash, and right now that’s a TL2 5’10” JC SD model and a 5’6″ John Florance model for lit conditions. Those boards can take it pretty good for not being kite-specific. For flat water, I use an F-one twin tip. I want a new Hana Crew/Coil board, but I can’t find the guys who make them. For surfing, my longboard is a Bagel 9’0″ and my shorty is a 6’2″ classic Richie Rudolf Quiet Flight stinger, nice and yellow.
When did you first get into kiteboarding?
I’ve always been into trying new boardsports. Being a skateboarder, surfer, windsurfer, and snowboarder, I knew the kites were coming. After 15 years of windsurfing, I was looking for something new. In 1999, when the first Wipika kites hit the scene, my windsurfing friend, Michel LaFramboise, was the first guy around here who got one. He let me fly it and I was hooked. The rest is history. With kite technology taking leaps and bounds from those crude kites of the early days, today’s kites are better than ever, with a giant wind range and safety systems to keep it all cool. They de-power and let the rider take advantage of the wave power and become more in tune with the wave, allowing you to ride in a more conventional surfing manner. Big jumps will always be one of the easiest and most fun parts of kiteboarding, but wave riding is where it’s at for me. So for any surfers out there who’ve ever wondered what to do with those “wasted windy days,” try a kite! Get out there and carve away with all the other happy kiters. The wind and surf are more dynamic and three-dimensional with a kite.
What kites are you using?
F-one 14-meter Bandit Dos is my main kite here. As the winds pick up, I have a 12- and 10-meter Ocean Rodeo Rise. I need some new kites!
You have some pretty cool videos of you kiteboarding. How did you set up that system?
I’ve always been putting videos together since high school, and it’s amazing how easy it is these days with all the POV cameras out there. I’ve been shooting at 10 feet above me on the lines looking down. Great angle, almost like a floating camera. I level all the footage out when edited, and it’s very watchable, not shaky. It really shows the freedom of kiting on the waves here in Cocoa Beach.
Where can people check out the videos?
Ever competed before?
I competed in the ESA as a kid, and did some skateboarding contests in the late ’70s. When kiteboarding started in 2000, I did a few contests in the Keys and Hatteras. But there are more contests for me in the near future as I am more of a freerider. But if something local came up, I might join in.
Where’s your home break?
12th Street South is home and the main entry beach, but actually, on our fun north- wind, down-winder days, it’s from Cheri Down Park to the house or farther down to Neilson’s shop or the other way around for south winds. So, for the most part it’s the whole coast, and the direction I go depends on the wind direction. Our friendly trolley system has the perfect chairlift service for the hungry downwinder kiteboarder, and it’s easy and cheap — only $1.25 The only no-kite zone is Patrick Air Force Base, and of course, guarded beaches and heavily surfed areas.
Any chance you’d divulge a secret local spot?
How ’bout the Canaveral Shoals? Not much of a secret, but it could be an adventure. Get a boat, jet ski, or kite out there… if you have the balls.
Either One Eye in Madagascar or Lakey Peak in Indo, with perfect 6-foot grinders, offshore wind in the a.m. for surfing, and side-offs at 20 for the p.m. kite session. … Then repeat each day for the rest of the week.
Favorite surf trip destination?
A tropical island with perfect surfing and excellent kiteboarding when the wind kicks in. Sounds like Fiji, doesn’t it?
Most memorable day out?
Epic Peru with mile-long rides. But I must admit that Irene rocked the coast just last week, both for kiteboarding and surfing. Could we have another one those storms, please?
Your worst wipeout?
Windsurfing, December 17, 1987, at Hangers, PAFB. It was 6-foot, dumping, and freezing cold for this Florida boy. I got dumped and dragged really bad and drank way too much water. Spanked…
Tell us about some of the watermen who inspire you.
Of course Slater for surfing, Greg Loehr for getting me into windsurfing, and Ricky Carroll and Keith Notary for making awesome boards. Kevin Collins, Michel LaFramboise, Laitham Kellum, Kelly DeRivero, and Ben Wilson for kiteboarding. Bruce Walker for skateboarding… and he surfs good, too.
Have you put your son Adam on a board yet?
Oh, yeah. He was on a board at 6 months old — with my help, of course. He skateboards in the house a lot and he’s had a few rides on my SUP. He’s got the full- on belly flop perfected at the pool, so for a two-year-old, he’s well on his way.
What kind of advice will you be giving him as he enters gromhood?
To do what makes him happy, and I’ll back whatever interests he has in sports and education. If he goes the boardsport route, I’ll try to stress the importance of falling carefully. Injuries are no fun. Just look at my knees… I hope he does better than me.