On Surfing

Kassia Meador

Illustration by Matt Titone

Kassia Meador’s knee-knocking cool has come to define a generation of surfing. Deemed the “queen of noseriding” by the New York Times, her poised form floating through the pocket of a first point runner is seared in the minds of anybody who has seen her surf. Born in 1982, Meador grew up a short drive from Malibu up through the serpentine canyons that lead to Westlake Village. In 2011, she’d take second place on the ASP Women’s Longboard Tour. Two years before, her surfing featured prominently in Thomas Campbell’s film The Present. Aside from her Tudor-esque style that’s hard to forget, her exuberance in and out of the water is unmistakable. You’d be hard pressed to find photographs of Meador without a gleaming grin stretched across her face. In the past few years, Meador has gone on to build and grow her own company, KASSIA+SURF, which makes wetsuits and gear for women spanning tops, long-janes, spring suits, and full suits in countless variations of color and design.

Can you describe one of the most challenging aspects of surfing to you?

Lately, it has been finding the time to just go surfing. Otherwise, it’s mostly waiting for the conditions to be right and tight when you do have the time.

What is one of the most redemptive or rewarding parts of surfing?

Riding a smooth glassy wave the way you want to ride it no interruptions all the way in, but I guess that is more my favorite part of surfing when it all comes together. But the fundamental part of surfing is riding waves, connecting with nature, and being one with creation as it is in the process of creating—the active meditation that is surfing.

What has surfing afforded you in your life?

For me, surfing has afforded me everything: endless lessons, an opportunity to travel and see the world. For part of my life, it also happened to be my income and a way to view the world and life in general through a beautiful kaleidoscopic lens.

How long can you go without surfing?

When I was younger and surfing for my living, it was the blood in my veins and the air I breathed. At that time, I could barely go a day or two without surfing. Five days was the longest unless I was injured or something. In the past few years—especially this last one getting my company off the ground—I’ll go a month at a time without surfing, and that sucks. And now I’m working towards bringing the time and space back into my life, so I can surf at least one to three times a week. As I said before, it’s my air and lately I haven’t been able to breath.

How and when did you fall in love with surfing?

I fell crazy, manic, insanely in love with surfing when I was 15. I did junior life guards when I was 14, and I started surfing with my dad the following winter. When I was 15, I had friends with cars that would take me after school. And in the summer time, all I did was surf. And then when I got my own car, that was all I did other than work to pay for the car. But when I wasn’t working I was surfing, at the beach, sleeping in my car. I just couldn’t get enough.

What’s one of your pre/post-surf rituals you hold dear?

Before and after surf hot drinks. My hot drink of choice is yerba mate. Any one who knows me knows I always have a hot beverage in my hand pre and post surf to warm up and caffeinate.

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On Surfing is generously supported by our friends at McTavish

Michael Adno

Michael is a writer and photographer born in Florida as a first-generation American to Austrian and South African parents. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Bitter Southerner, and The Surfer’s Journal among other magazines.

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