Surfboards for older Surfers

morg's picture
morg started the topic in Tuesday, 19 Jan 2016 at 3:25pm

We all want small fast surfboards. But how small is small enough, and how big is too big for an all-round shortboard? This normally comes down to ability, weight and wave quality. But what is an optimal short board size range for surfers over 50?

I’m lucky enough to live across the road from the beach and waste a lot of time analysing surfers styles, technique, and how different boards seem to go. It’s intriguing how in 2 to 4 foot waves you can have two guys over 50 of similar ability, one on the latest shortboard, and one on a mini-mal or higher volume fish-style board, and the guy on the mini-mal or fish will often seriously out surf the short boarder. I don’t just mean wave count, I mean the whole package. Radical old guys don’t surf like radical young ones! They tend to surf pretty much the same on most waves, and interestingly they don’t actually turn much more or less when riding different boards of similar sizes. I often find myself watching a surfer thinking “you would be better off on a bigger board”.

I’m 54, 80kgs and arguably my best surfing days are behind me. Age steals our paddling and explosive strength and I’ve noticed that by the time surfers are in there mid 50’s, those that had it, have pretty much lost that magic pop and explosive power that differentiates them from the rest. They still have great technique, but not the POW. More are starting to ride quads as they seem to plane quicker too.

I theorise that we only need a surfboard that performs well enough to allow us to push our limits, and anything more high performance is probably just making things harder. My quiver ranges from 5’3” to 9’5” and I like 32 litres or more to have fun in normal waves. My current go to board for fun waves is 5’10 x 20 1/8”, and 6’2” x19.5” for bigger waves but I often wonder if I might surf better or at least as well on a longer board.

So my question to the experienced shapers and surfers out there is at what size does a modern short board stop riding and feeling like a short board?

Morgs

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Monday, 28 May 2018 at 2:32pm

Ok so I'm 59 in June, still loving short boards providing there's enough float in 'em to paddle well, my next order is a Webster Sniper at around 6'4". So all good eh, I've been swimming between surfs to keep fit and just returned from Indo and had a ball, apart from the effin wind that wouldn't back off, however I realized I'm not invincible and getting older when I failed to climb aboard one of the Kuta boats on my last day, I just couldn't push up that extra bit to get over the rail, and was left floundering on my ribs ( which now are bruised ) and cursing them for never having a ladder on board. Surfed the week before in the East getting on and off a boat that had a ladder, and never gave it a thought until I realized "shit I'm stuck", ha, ha. I'm either going to buy Kong or Senar a ladder or I'll have to re-strategize my fitness routine. Probably easier just to buy one and rent it out.

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Monday, 28 May 2018 at 7:00pm

Gotta admit that I've lived this topic for the last 6+ yrs. Now at 66yo (55yrs surfing) I've gotta tell ya get ready for the wheels to fall off at about 60yo, hasn't mattered what board I've tried, or how much training you do (for me at least) the "ol popup is the first to go"!! & it really s***s me. Finally looked in the mirror gave myself a double uppercut & admitted it ain't the board its the rider, sigh. Once I'm up its all good skills are still there. Curently got 6 boards ranging from 7' - 9'1", 3 Pieters, 2 Mccoys & Wizstix fish, all great boards, I've had numerous Millers, Steve Del Rosso, Katana, Josh dowling, MR's, & yep all great boards but the driver..HEEs getting slow. But the search continues, still committed, drove 300k last week & didnt get wet (Sydney surf just pus)...maybee this week.(lol).

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 28 May 2018 at 7:14pm

Thirsty I am also 66 and have had issues with the pop up but have it pretty much under control at the moment. A few points, the training needs to be very specific and you need to do a reality check on your body weight if it is higher than it should be. The quickest way to get the necessary fitness is probably to go to a specialist gym, eg Manly Surf School's gym in Cromer. There are similar places elsewhere. If there is nothing available locally try a good local gym and find a trainer who surfs themselves. I surf 6'0 and 6'3" most days and am really enjoying my surfing, so give the training another go. You never know your luck, crypto might pop in and give you a routine for free.

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Monday, 28 May 2018 at 8:08pm

Thanks BB, I'll look into that. Yeah put on a few Kegs lately, went OS in FEB this year, India & Sri Lanka (non surfin) holiday, slipped on stairs stretched/pulled tendon in hip, came back saw speciailst out 6 wks. Then had to get BCC cut off schnozolla out 4 wks. So yeah back to core work, burpees etc, arithritus ain't helping either. I actully think if I cold get a run of waves that arn't just closing out (Sydney) I'd be a lot better off, but "it is what it is".

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Monday, 28 May 2018 at 9:29pm

Yeh I have had a good run the last two years. I had a major arthritis flair up before that and had my name down for the op, but got stuck into physio and fish oil and it is really good now. Aches now and then but doesn't restrict me at all. Good luck

MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 8:17am

Foam is your friend once you are 60+, paddle + paddle + paddle daily,
less beer and more red,
MTB riding for cardo
and hemp oil.
MR Lone Ranger 6'6" (40L)

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 3:44pm

Here's my take. Ageing naturally lowers metabolism and muscle mass as a % of total body weight. Joints stiffen and flexibility reduces. As this relates to surfing it means you have to work on retaining muscle % (weight training) and flexibility (swimming/yoga/stretching). Retaining flexibility will help with recovery. Consciously avoid injury as recovery will take longer. Have a good diet. After that think about your board(s) and maybe be more strategic on what waves your surf.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 12:26pm

One of the ironies of losing speed in your pop up is that it is actually easier to get up in a steep take off than a fat one. In a steep take off the board drops away so you don't have to lift your weight.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 3:43pm

I'm sure some here have heard about slow and fast twitch muscle fibres. In surfing slow twitch would be used for endurance (slow paddling) and fast twitch while they fatigue faster are used for explosive movements (paddling fast into a wave and popping up/or avoiding those Cloudbreak bombs). You can train your body to improve your fast twitch muscle response.

nozawaman's picture
nozawaman's picture
nozawaman commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 7:28pm

I have also hit the big 60 , and while my fitness is not an issue I do find that my pop up is my weak point . It doesn't help that I spend 4 months of the year skiing . I usually get my rhythm back fairly quickly , but the first few surfs I just feel like a kook . What is interesting though I find that I am quicker to my feet when I have a steamer on ?

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 7:01am

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blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 8:52am

Don't go there! If you need that much volume you would be much better off going longer. I watch people surf these things and they are so slow and ponderous, you could eat your lunch during a cutback! I mean come on 3 1/2 thick? 22 wide? This is not in any sense of the word a performance board. It is a slow stable platform that can be manoeuved gently.

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 9:39am

Dunno about that BB, had a couple of Grant Millers SUBX's, last one 7'x231/4"31/8" 1+4 setup, & they were great. Paddled well & very manourvable for me at 100kg, I think for older guys these thicker wider boards are good for days when its too hard to get a 8'+ board out the back, also makes you feel good when you do throw it around a bit. Currently got a Pieter Pieburger 7'x24"3/14" 5 fins setup for just such occasions, had it for 3 months & not ridden it due to injuries but I'm chompin' to give it a go. So if you see an ol' fat bloke on a fat board trying to get up between Mona Vale & Palmie it'll be me, haha.

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 10:09am

One thing I didn't think of when I got the 9'1" was turning a Longboard and its effect on my metal hip, has been a bit sore after a surf. This could prob be due to me not riding a LB since the shortboard revolution & I need to relearn LB riding.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 10:53am

Thirsty I reckon you would need to be a lean 100kg to get much performance out of something 31/2 thick, but each to their own.

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 12:30pm

Actually that's a bit of a fallacy , as I ride up to 22" wide , but mostly 21 1/2 wide by 3 1/2....easy to surf , can still do all the manouvers , reo's , roundhouses and hacks , just have to be precise on the wave , then again I surf long point breaks , but try and catch a wave on me as my Shortboard is 6 8 x 21 3/4 x 3 1/4 , step up is 7 8 x 21 1/2 x 3 3/4......

x

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 12:44pm

From my perspective, exaggerating the dimensions on high performance short boards turns them into novelty or fun boards, that have their place on the right day, but if surfed all the time put a lot of pressure on my knees and back trying to heave them around. They simply loose the spontaneity and drive. For me if I want to buy a high performance shorty and if say I'm overweight rather than buy something that will float me etc. I'd rather loose the kgs and get fitter and buy something that will do what I want and just get myself in better shape. Beer gets in the way of the mission especially Friday arvos, but hey I've being doing both for years now, it's just the upper arm strength I need to work on so I can still hoik may up on those boats without getting stuck or I just hang on to the out rigger and get a tow in.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 12:56pm

Hey Sharky, read your last comment with interest. With regret I had to move on from the last one you made me as 21" was just too wide for me especially on the fatties we get over here and a personal lesson learnt on widths for small wave boards. However the other 2 Protows are insane and just came home from Indo where both performed again perfectly.....cheers mate.

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 1:23pm

Great stuff ain't it guys all the different shape & tech boards we (old & young) surfers can try. Mine range from Pu to Surftech McCoy nug & XF McCoy nug , at 7'9"x213/4x 3/18" which I really like . Gone are the 1 board days ! So many variables in surfing, as we all know, from wave size, shape, point, beachie, yadda yadda. From yrs of experience, weight, mental attitude etc etc. Each to their own & that's a great thing. I'm just glad to be 66 & still surfing "and loving it" as Maxwell Smart would say.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 1:29pm

Onya Unc...

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 1:44pm

I recently shared a session with a 62 year old as he caught the barrel of his life.

Every day in the water is golden but it’s always nice to know that your best may still be in front of you.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 2:24pm

" the barrel of your life" is the proverbial carrot on a stick for me. and Unclethirsty plenty of surf craft is an ongoing joy. Better to quote Max's " and loving it" than his "missed it by that much"

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 2:29pm

Ha, yeah Ash, or his "Chief, would you believe..".....I got the barrel of my life on a fat board. "No max I wouldn't".. "would you believe..I was body bashing"...

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 2:46pm

"would you believe" I can't believe I forgot that one.
Max was such a good actor, 2nd only to Barney Rubble.......

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 5:30pm

Good to see all the discussion on this topic now that the cone of silence has been lifted.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 6:03pm

What? louder I didn't catch that.......fark its beginning to sound as if I'm over 60 already

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Wednesday, 30 May 2018 at 7:54pm

Ash ,be careful what you wish for ........

simba

tux's picture
tux's picture
tux commented Thursday, 7 Jun 2018 at 8:56am

Dunno about that Junior Mopano (sp) big hawaiian fella used to fucking tear the bag out of it and he was riding 23 in boards well over 3 inches thick back in the day when boards weren't foiled out as much

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 7 Jun 2018 at 10:25am

Also Big Jim Pellegrine..huge boaty fuckers...didnt hinder him at all.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 7 Jun 2018 at 11:44am

Well if your going down that path there was Shawn Briley as well.

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Thursday, 7 Jun 2018 at 12:46pm

kneelos seem to manage to shape/ride high-performance boards that are 23 3/4 wide and 2 3/4 thick.
why aren't boards with similar dimensions also able to be high performance for stand-ups?
i have no idea of the science here. only thing i can think of is that the low centre of gravity/ helps making the big changes needed for rail to rail surfing on such a wide board?

H2O's picture
H2O's picture
H2O commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 12:54pm

Talk to a shaper who is preferably about your age and may be on the journey himself. They should ask a lot of questions about you and your surfing. Be totally honest with your answers. Like Q" How many times do you surf per week?" A "3-4" when in reality its probably 1-2 when you take the time to think about your last 6 months activity. Same with wave size. The waves you actually surf are different to the waves you mind surf.

Thanks for the Manly surf school gym tip BB. Had a one on one session and came out with a program and a plan.

spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 3:23pm

Though his boards are designed for all ages and abilities, Grant Miller, one of nature's gentlemen, is arguably among the finest of board makers in the country devoted to getting it right for surfers. Anyone over fifty finding it harder to claw waves should at least have a chat with Grant before making their next purchase - the feedback/testimonials he receives from clients speaks volumes. I'm looking forward to the arrival of a new stick from him soon. Eat well, exercise and get a true custom made board designed to suit your ability/age/situation - don't frig around with mass produced shite and hype.

Stay salty

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 4:20pm

I had a chat with Grant on the weekend and he showed me his latest board. 6'2" (I think) 22" wide, 3 fin set up with full size central fin and two small thruster tail fins. Great looking board and he reckons it's one of the best he has ever had. It is pretty far removed from my usual equipment but I am up for giving it a go if we have more time next trip. And if you want to deal with someone who is absolutely straight up, no bullshit, Grant's your man.

spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 6:23pm

Agreed absolutely blindboy - Grant's the real thing - rare in this day and age!

Stay salty

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 6:49pm

Was that a Subx BB ?

simba

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 8 Jun 2018 at 7:04pm

He just pulled it out of his van. I didn't ask the name of the model. We were a bit distracted by the cows!

unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy's picture
unclethirsy commented Thursday, 14 Jun 2018 at 4:39pm

As the title says "surfboards for older guys"...ok so what is "older", prob need to group into ages into 45-50, 50-55, 55-60, 60+. Then allowing for health,injuries, lifestyle & the biggie "ability" , waves usually surfed beachies, points etc... how can "the board(s)" be identified! So...What have you older surfers identified that you want in your board(s) when getting a newie. What/which shape gets you up & going? (I know its a piece of string question but hey gotta yak about sumfin till JBay)

zumabeach's picture
zumabeach's picture
zumabeach commented Thursday, 14 Jun 2018 at 5:47pm

Wait until you hit fuggin 70! Happened to me last month and off I toddled to South Shore Oahu to celebrate ... commiserate? Nice head high waves as clean as a whistle. Caught a few, missed plenty. Mostly long or at least longer boards on the outer reefs like Pops and a good vibe with a lot of older guys and really talented women in the water. The first thing that you really start to lose is a fast pop up to get you on your feet and into a wave super quick, especially when they're on the dribbly side. But once you're up and going the moves still come pretty naturally - top and bottom turns, decent cutbacks, down the line trimming and even a bit of nose time. You come to appreciate what you are - not what you were, or thought you were - and it's still the best fun you can have standing up even if you climb out of bed every morning and ask yourself ... "what bit's gonna hurt today?"

old-dog's picture
old-dog's picture
old-dog commented Thursday, 14 Jun 2018 at 6:25pm

My 2c worth, I'm 61 about 85kgs 6ft. tall. Until recently was struggling on a 25 litre Merrick , the old pop up was getting shaky. Now I'm riding a Simon 6'4" x 20 1/2" x 2 5/8" 35.76 litre and loving life, although I still spend the first half of the wave getting organized. I'm not as fit as I could be and have given a lot of thought to the pop up problem , I only have trouble when the waves are under 2ft. and weak but I reckon I forget to put in those last few desperate strokes to get up to planning speed and then jump up and wobble around a bit before hitting top gear. The other day I went down to my local and there were about 10 young blokes with man buns riding logs and mini mals, I paddled out and said "what is this Malibu day or something, " One of them looked at me and said (in a fake American accent) "you should try one man they go unreal." The waves were only about a foot but I milked just about every wave that came through to the beach while they floated around like clueless lost turds. I will throw in the towel before succumbing to ride a log. When I started surfing all boards were logs and when short boards came in it was the greatest thing ever. Cheers. P.s. Don't get old.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 14 Jun 2018 at 6:42pm

Agree on every point old dog, except the don't get old bit. You know what they say about that.....the only thing worse than getting old is the alternative. At 66 and 80kg my boards are around 32 litres, all Simons and range from 6'0" to 6'8" with an old 7'5" gun I like to take for a paddle now and then.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 14 Jun 2018 at 7:09pm

Olddog ..25 ltrs ..bloody hell how long did you struggle for on that Wafer ?

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