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

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 4:02am

6'1 X 80kgs, seeds.

Always PU, udo.

samerubi's picture
samerubi's picture
samerubi Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:16am
zenagain wrote:

If you don't mind me asking Craig- what sort of board are you currently riding? Also, do you know in litres? I'm a bit younger and a bit lighter than you, but not by much.

I'm asking because I'm gonna bite the bullet and go longer, wider and thicker cause I've been struggling to get waves recently. Up and riding, no probs. Catching them is another matter.

Any other big units want to chime in, feel free.

samerubi's picture
samerubi's picture
samerubi Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:21am

my mistake...
i am nearly 50 and 95kg.
i am enjoying riding an 80's style thruster by Gunther - about 37L.
the thing is about this style of thruster is they go in a really wide range of conditions.
from back in the day when most of us only had one board which had to do it all.
after chopping and changing boards every other surf i am finding i am surfing much better by staying on the one board.

morg's picture
morg's picture
morg Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:29am

@udo he's 5'10" 94kg (this week). Thing is he's not a skinny guy with a gut, over the years he's sort of filled out all over a bit like a pacific islander rugby players. He said that when he finds one round enough the legs and arms are about a foot to long LOL. He's decided to get a custom.

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022 at 8:55am
samerubi wrote:

my mistake...
i am nearly 50 and 95kg.
i am enjoying riding an 80's style thruster by Gunther - about 37L.
the thing is about this style of thruster is they go in a really wide range of conditions.
from back in the day when most of us only had one board which had to do it all.
after chopping and changing boards every other surf i am finding i am surfing much better by staying on the one board.

Three of my friends here in Kalbarri are brothers and sponsored by Gunther, he makes excellent boards and those brothers are some of the best surfers in this town. A town full of excellent surfers.(only 1100 people live here the ratio of good surfers to population is amazing)
But they are super fit, all three of them and ride id say around 28 litres on big days at Jakes.
The eldest brother has a video on youtube of him at gnaraloo getting a super long drainpipe at around 8-10 foot ill see if i can find it.Not as heavy as camels pit but pretty good.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022 at 9:04am
frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Tuesday, 28 Jun 2022 at 1:31pm

Your weight is just one factor in determining board volume and type. Another big one is nimbleness and "lightness on feet". Some surfers never have this. Most of us lose it over time.

Older guys who retain this "lightness" on the water through ability, lots of surfing and good genetics can surf much shorter, lower volume boards. At competitive spots they seem to be everywhere but this is just survival of the fittest - not reality for most.

Me? Once up and riding and in rhythm on a good wave with a longer wall, I do okay and probably look fairly fast in the speed zone and free flowing. But light-on-feet, instant speed is just not there at call day to day or on every wave. Sometimes I just want lazy speed. After a few hours in the water I slow down even more and volume helps.

Volume is therefore more than a simple formulae based on your weight. One guru's formula (pounds / 6) would have me on a 29 litre board!

Add five or ten litres every extra second it takes to get off the couch maybe.