Despite what the t-shirts say, and what we senior surfers would like to think, old guy's/gal's don't rule (unless you're Kelly Slater who will probably still be winning titles when he's sixty). The truth is, most sports are made for and performed best by the young. But just because that's the case, it doesn't mean you can't still perform, advance and rip when we get older.
When I started surfing in the sixties there really weren't many old dudes in the water. First of all it just wasn't around long enough and secondly it was thought to be only for the young. As time went by many fellow surfers dropped by the wayside thinking they were in fact too old to surf and it was time to grow up.
I didn't start competing until I was in my thirties and thought it would be piece of cake to win in my division for the very reason that I thought most surfers my age had long since given it up. Boy was I wrong. It seemed like the ones who kept surfing were the good ones.
That's all changed as more older surfers are still out there and have found you can surf (if you are dedicated) for a very long time. What I have found however that many my age have either continued to ride longboards only or are content to do what they always have done on a board and don't challenge themselves. Fortunately there are the exceptions, guys and gals who continue to ride both short and longboards and let their bodies tell them what they can and can't do and not their minds.
I'm now in my sixties and my primary board is a 5'11" modified twin fin (actually quite light and performance orientated). I also ride a 6'2" baked potato model I shaped, a 6'4" thruster, a 6'8" mini gun and a 9' longboard I use on those days where it is the right thing to use.
When I asked my shaper Tony at COS to shape me a twin fin like I saw in the shop his first response was "there's no way you can handle that board. You're at least in your fifties and don't have the quickness nor enough upper body strength needed". I could have listened to Tony (after all I trust him and he knows his stuff) but somehow my mind still told me I could ride the thing..
I'm glad I went with my gut because I not only was able to ride the board in all conditions from small to overhead surf but it has enabled me to do things on a board I never thought I could.
I am fortunate in that most of my surfing buddies are WAY younger than me and they push me to keep up with them. As I don't want to look bad in their eyes I generally go for about as many waves as they do and also for the bigger sets.
There are times I forget just how old I am and as such set high expectations and am always trying something new. I think that more than anything keeps me young at heart. I'm no idiot (at least no doctor has told me so) and I know that one day the wheels will fall off and my old body just won't be able to perform the way I'd like but in the interim I'm going to be thankful for every session I'm fortunate enough to have and I hope when that day comes I will be OK with it.
I guess the crux of what I'm trying to say is just because we might be getting older, we shouldn't put mental limitations on ourselves and that we can always learn something new. After all, what's the worse that could happen?
As a parting note that kind of addresses the above, last Saturday I helped coach at the Florida Surfing Associations Wave (Wounded) Warriors event. I have been fortunate to have been involved with this for the past three years. All of the 70 or so participants certainly had a valid excuse for not participating but did so. It should be noted that every WW got their rides and went away feeling stoked and better for the experience. Paul West, who runs FSA and the program was told by the WW heads that the surfing events are the most enjoyed events of all by the vets. So I guess if they refuse to put ;imitations on them selves then so can we.
Thanks for dropping in and see you next week. Aloha, Paul