Melissa Gil is a Professional Kite Surfer, Marine Biologist, Conservationist, and Passionate Surfer. Photo by Jake Mills
We met Melissa Gil through inquiring about Tica swimwear (a Costa Rican surf wear that Melissa helps to promote and co-branding with.) The next thing I know, I was talking to Melissa about visiting her in Florida to see her professional kite surfing in style.
You do not meet someone like Melissa often: she is smart, athletic and driven. And we will prove to you how:
1. Can you tell us who you are?
I am a professional kite surfer, marine biologist, conservationist and passionate surfer. But I am also a warm-hearted person who wants to make this world a better place. I like to be kind and I like to treat people and nature with respect. I believe everyone should be happy so I like to spread smiles and laughs!
2. How did you start kite surfing and why did you choose kite surfing?
I started kite surfing when I moved from Costa Rica to Florida for college. I lived with my aunt and uncle, who were both big into windsurfing. I learned the basics of windsurfing with them, but when I saw someone kite surfing for the first time I knew I wanted to try it.
My aunt and I learned to kite surf together with the help of friends and I was hooked for life. I went kite surfing with the sunrise before school, in between classes and rushed back to the water after school for an evening session. Every time the wind was blowing I wanted to be in the water.
I’ve always loved being in the water since I was a kid and I love the freedom and versatility of kite surfing. Unlike any other sport there is so much you can do behind a kite. You literally can ride with any style board you want. I love the feeling of soaring in the air after a high jump, landing a technical trick after multiple attempts, riding along the beach exploring new coastlines, racing around a course using sailing tactics, or doing speed runs and going as fast as I can. But my absolute favorite is wave riding. When I am in the waves I lose track of time and space, I am completely immersed in the moment, happy as can be.
Another thing I love about kite surfing is the sport builds a community around it. People who kite surf help each other on the beach and they cheer and encourage each other. Furthermore, kite surfing gives you more reasons to travel around the world and make new friends, and I love to travel!
3. What do you do for living? How did you start what you do and how did your job affect surfing and your love for ocean?
Right now I have 3 different jobs, which can get a bit overwhelming at times, but what keeps me going is my passion for the ocean. All 3 jobs revolve around the ocean, in fact my whole life revolves around the ocean.
I work for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection where I apply my expertise as a marine biologist to protecting our natural resources. I’m a professional kite surfer, the beach and the ocean are my playground so it’s important to me to have good water quality and keep our beaches clean. My latest endeavor is my own business, MG Surf Line, which ties my passion for the ocean and water-sports together with my love for my country, Costa Rica. With MG Surf Line my goal is to provide women with exclusive quality products, hand made in Costa Rica and fashioned in an environmentally conscious way. Our swimwear is designed to fit the active lifestyle of water passionate girls and inspired by the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Our swimwear not only looks good, it is functional, comfortable, and stays on while you play. I love it and I love having the opportunity to share my passions.
4. It looks like you are having a dream career and living the life. Was it always so easy for you? Can you tell our readers how did you do it?
I wouldn’t say things are easy, but when your heart and mind are set on something there is nothing that can stop you and nothing is impossible. The most important thing is having a very clear vision of what you want. Once you know, you can work towards making that dream a reality. This alone has an immense power. The rest is dedication, persistence, and believing in yourself. You will face obstacles and difficult times along the way but these are opportunities to become a better, stronger person. All they do is help you get to where you need to be.
5. You have a great athletic physique, how do you train yourself along side with kite surfing and other sports to maximize your performance?
The main thing for me is being able to play outside. I grew up mountain biking with my dad, being able to exercise outside and connect with nature. Surfing is my absolute favorite, but I also like to SUP in the waves or take my dog for a paddle on the Intracoastal. Kite surfing is great because it really works out all areas in your body, but it can also be hard on your body so a great complement to any sport is yoga. Yoga is great for the body, mind, and soul. I highly recommend it if you have never tried it. It improves your flexibility and strength, so you are less prone to injuries, but it also helps with breathing, relaxing, and clearing your mind of worries, doubts, and negative thoughts. I try to do yoga every morning when I wake up at least for 30 minutes. It feels great and you start the day off the right way.
6. Any recommendations for all surf girls out there? Do you compete in any kinds of sports? If so, who are your sponsors? How did the competition start? How’s your experience?
The more time you spend in the water the better. When you really like something, like surfing or kite surfing for me, you almost become addicted. The best is to remember it’s all about the journey not the destination. Enjoy all your sessions regardless of your performance. Work on improving yourself with patience and love. Get stoked; envision what you want and your dreams will come true.
In my early years, I never saw myself competing professionally in any sport but one thing led to another and I started competing locally in Florida. I realized it was something I wanted to do, compete and travel the world. I started winning all the competitions in Florida and got sponsored by Cabrinha and Dakine. Soon I saw myself competing internationally and traveling, which is exactly what I had envisioned for myself. I competed in all disciplines of the sport: freestyle, wave riding, course racing, downwind racing, slalom, speed racing, you name it! I placed top 3 in many competitions and was lucky enough to win the Kite Speed World Championship in France back in 2009 and became world champion! I couldn’t believe it! That year I also set the Outright Women’s USA Speed Sailing record at 38 knots (43.7 mph / 70.4 kmph) in Namibia.
Surf Mei Mei believes that we should all enjoy our life. Someone like Melissa has a great passion for life, and therefore, she is driven to do the best in every aspect. As a surfer, we can have a great surfing life style while benefit from other parts of responsibilities, and have a well-balance happy life!
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