If bumper stickers are to be believed, then a bad day surfing always beats a good day at work. Unless, of course, you’re Gabe Kling in which case they are one and the same. As a professional surfer, he spends nearly every day at the beach either practicing or competing, though he’ll be the first to admit that getting paid for doing what he loves hardly feels like work. Now 30, Kling is currently ranked 32 in the world and recently qualified for the sport’s most prestigious—and most competitive—circuit, the ASP World Tour.
Here are a few things you won’t see on any scorecard:
• Kling learned to surf before he was in kindergarten. From then on, he says he never considered any career other than pro surfer.
• He came in second in his first surfing competition when he was 10. Sounds impressive until he tells you there were only three entrants, one of whom lied about his age and was disqualified.
• Having surfed all over the world, Kling says Australia is his favorite place to hit the waves. Locally, he’s most
likely to be found at St. Augustine Beach around 16th Street.
• Since his parents wouldn’t allow a TV in their home as he was growing up, Kling would sneak viewing time at a friend’s house (Bonanza was his favorite). The parental units finally caved when he was 15, and he became glued to Beverly Hills, 90210.
• Friends in Australia nicknamed him Piggy because they think he looks like Piggy Thomas, a former cast member on MTV’s Road Rules.
• Kling says the biggest misconception about surfers “is that we’re all like Jeff Spicoli” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. For the record, he didn’t say “gnarly,” “rad” or “dude” one time, which you have to admit is pretty awesome.