Kechele makes you surf better!
All surfers on the East Coast have owned a Kechele board at some point in their lives. If you haven’t, you need to grab one and you will see what you're missing. These boards ride like magic and are wave-catching machines.
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Besides being an amazing shaper, Matt Kechele is a surfing pioneer. He's of the first surfers to get air in a time when aerials were not even considered a way of surfing. Born and raised in Florida, Kechele has traveled all over the world surfing. He's one of today's most established and well-respected surfers/shaper. Kechele is well known for being Kelly Slater’s mentor when he was a grommet, leaving him ready to win many world titles. Kechele continues to teach and promote the sport. He is an innovator and a super-cool guy.
How did you get into surfing? Pete Hodgson taught me at 1st street Cocoa Beach when I was 8 years old.
You turned pro at a very young age! I started doing some pro events at age 16 and I had a hard time turning down the prize money so I decided to take the job.
How has having a skateboarding background helped to shape the way you surf? Skateboarding is a great leg strengthener and cardio, but I always liked all the transitions and many approaches. You can take skateboarding approaches into the water. It's a pretty natural progression, and Sebastian Inlet just so happens to be like a moving skate park.
What are your thoughts on aerial maneuvers? I love aerials. I began doing them in 1979 and I was looking at the waves like skate ramps at the Sebastian Inlet. I’m very proud to be a part of an early movement. Today what the world’s best can do is totally amazing and I always watch the best take to the air watching all the ASP Live webcasts.
What is a typical Matt Kechele day like? Shaping, surfing, packing boards, working on Quiksilver events, building websites, designing surf/skim traction pads or developing other cool products.
What have been some of your best experiences in surfing? G-land in Indonesia, or surfing with Kelly Slater, Clay Marzo and Shane Dorian at Tavarua Island in Fiji in pumping Cloudbreak. I have a 10-second GoPro tube on my website if you'd like to have a look (kechelesurfboards.com).
When did you shape your first board? What made you want to start shaping? At age 13 I shaped my own personal board in my bedroom. In Cocoa Beach in the 70s if you surfed you probably built boards on occasion. I learned a lot from my brother early on. And was greatly inspired by Greg Loehr, Richard Munson and very grateful Ed Leasure gave me a job shaping in ‘83 with my own Kech Airlines model.
What was it like to ride a board you made for the first time? It's an amazing feeling to put your heart and soul into right under your feet.
What is a bigger passion in your life: surfing or shaping? I like surfing more. Shaping is very labor intensive and surfing is never painful; only pure joy.
What type of shape works best for East Coast waves in your opinion? Wide, curvy boards with lower speedy rockers, concave x3 and 3+4 fin set ups to soup it all up.
For people that have never owned a Kechele board, how would you describe the ride? Fast, easy rider boards with no hang-ups.
What is your favorite surf break? Beach Breaks perhaps a few secret spots down in Mexico.
Long line or barrel? Barrel with long bowling line.
Have you ever surfed in Delaware? I have surfed down at the Inlet South side and North side - I think - and a few of the other beach streets. I think Kelly and Sean Slater and I caught some fun shore break at one beach street.
How does someone become a good surfer? Practice and determination is going to be the key. Skateboarding, skimming and wakesurfing can all help and enhance your level of surfing.
Check out Kechele's website (kechelesurfboards.com) to learn more about him and see his boards. The freak trac-pads are looking good!