Peter Mel, born November 24, 1969 in Santa Cruz, California, is a professional surf boarder. Mel began his surfing life in Capitola, California before moving on to Santa Cruz. His father, John, who started the family business, Freeline Surf Design, the same year Pete was born, John made his boards over the years and gradually brought his son under his shaping wing. In the shadow of Steamer Lane locals Vince Collier, Kevin Reed and especially Richard Schmidt, Mel rose quickly through the line-up ranks with an unprecedented crop of young surfers. He idolized Schmidt for his casual demeanor on land and his bravery in larger surf. Like Schmidt, he would spend many winters in Hawaii, enjoying the less-restrictive conditions and developing his signature style, not to mention a taste for the big stuff.
Throughout the ’90s, Mel found moderate success on the domestic and ASP World Tour Qualifying Series, before finally finding his niche during California’s El Nino winter of 1997-98. At the age of 29, when most pros are hanging up their jerseys and looking hard for careers in the surfing industry, Mel was really just coming into his own.
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Known in Santa Cruz as the “Condor” for his extreme wingspan (A nickname Mel was less than fond of) , Pete was a shoo-in to claim the $50,000 Billabong XXL Big-Wave Challenge, for paddling into the winter’s biggest wave, but this was not to be and pete ended up just short of the honor that year. Mel finished eighth in the 1998 Surfer Magazine Reader’s Poll Awards and established himself as California’s premier big-wave rider. Today, Mel continues to shape and help run Freeline Surf Shop, the family business in Santa Cruz. As a shaper, he sees new materials as being the wave of the future. “With shaping,” he admits, “there’s not much more you can do, but the materials are going to get far lighter and stronger.” He has also acknowledges the limitations of paddle-in surfing and jumped directly to the forefront of the tow-in frenzy during the end of the 90's. On October 28, 1999, at Mavericks, he was towed into the biggest wave ever ridden on the West Coast. He still chases surf around the world, but chooses to spend most of his time focusing on his family and riding Mavericks, just an hour up the road. Mel lives on the East Side of Santa Cruz in the Pleasure Point area and is currently married with two children.