Gaulden Reed*

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Gaulden Reed was one of the original surfers at Daytona Beach in the 1930s, at a time when the sport was just coming up in Florida. Reed remembers: “I lived in the right place at the right time to enjoy man’s dance with the sea and got to have a small part in it.” 

This was the era when aspiring surfers constructed homemade boards, and Reed’s first solid-wood prototypes weighed well over 100 pounds. Reed and his Daytona Beach buddies altered their approach and were soon making 50-pound hollow box boards. Unbeknownst to Reed, surfers up and down the coast were engaged in the same type of experimentation. Surfing had arrived on the East Coast.  

Reed led the surfing lifestyle long before it was fashionable. He found like-minded friends in the northern surfers who fled to Daytona in the colder months hoping to catch some wintertime waves. Reed also fostered the Central Florida surfing community when he constructed the Ormond Beach Pier, where many of the best surfers on the East Coast would cut their teeth, including legends like Mimi Munro, Flea Shaw and Lisa Andersen.

Reed nurtured other hobbies, including sailing and flying. He learned to fly planes in World War II and enjoyed the hobby long after the war ended. On one fateful flight over the Halifax River, he spotted the eventual location for Aloha Marine Center and petitioned the president of Publix, the company that owned the land, to partner with him on building a boat dealership. 

The Halifax River is also where Reed learned to sail. A series of sailing and surfing injuries would require an appointment with a local orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, who extended Reed an invitation to sail the Caribbean with him. Reed accepted and kept the position in paradise for eight adventurous years. He would also participate in the prestigious America’s Cup as a team videographer.

Reed eventually returned to his hometown of Daytona Beach, where he organized the Gaulden Reed Summer Sizzler regatta. In his memoir, Once Upon a Wave, Reed remembers “The great time I’ve had sliding down that big wave we call life.”

Photos by Dick “Mez” Meseroll and courtesy Whitman Family Museum and Reed family