East Coast surfing pioneer Mike Tabeling passes away at 65

December 22, 2014 | Surfing
Mike Tabeling: a pioneer of surfing in the East Coast

Mike Tabeling, one of the pioneers of surfing in the East Coast of United States, has passed away at 65.

Tabeling is a legend. A shining star in the Cocoa Beach surfing scene. Mike was a passionate surfer, who didn't let a rare and aggressive form of Renal Cell Carcinoma/Papillary II change his sports life.

Mike Tabeling was one of the first surfers on the East Coast. He participated in the 1968 United States Surfing Championships, and finished runner-up; Mike rode his waves at the ISF World Surfing Championships (1966, 1968 and 1970), too. And we was really talented.

The tall regular-footer was born in landlocked Memphis, but at 12 he was already making waves in Cocoa Beach. Mike and Bruce Valluzzi were the first surfers to ride Sebastian Inlet.

His style and attitude were featured in "Pacific Vibrations". Mike lived in Florida, South Africa and California, but he traveled the globe working as a shaper/entrepreneur (Creative Shaping and Tabeling Surfboards) and sales manager (Global Surf Industries).

"I lost two friends who died in the prime of their lives, Bruce Valuzzi, and Dave Smith. It reminded me of my own fragile vulnerability and decided that I would follow my dreams to the fullest because my day could come as easily as it did to my best buddies," Tabeling once told.

Mike won shortboard contests, longboard nationals, and junior events. After a paragliding accident "which rearranged my body", the Cocoa Beach local kept enjoying life.

"We are only given a few short years to play on this earth and like the saying goes 'If you aren't living on the edge you're taking up too much space'."

The spirit of Mike Tabeling will forever live.