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?
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.
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).
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.
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".
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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......
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.
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.
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.
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.
" 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"
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"...
"would you believe" I can't believe I forgot that one.
Max was such a good actor, 2nd only to Barney Rubble.......
Good to see all the discussion on this topic now that the cone of silence has been lifted.
What? louder I didn't catch that.......fark its beginning to sound as if I'm over 60 already
Ash ,be careful what you wish for ........
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
Also Big Jim Pellegrine..huge boaty fuckers...didnt hinder him at all.
Well if your going down that path there was Shawn Briley as well.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Agreed absolutely blindboy - Grant's the real thing - rare in this day and age!
Was that a Subx BB ?
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!
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)
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?"
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.
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.
Olddog ..25 ltrs ..bloody hell how long did you struggle for on that Wafer ?
Riding a demo sci-fi firewire in Portugal. I’m 59, around 6 5 kilo and the board is 29 litres at 5’9” and unreal. This thing catches waves and drops in brilliantly and is ultrafast and goes anywhere. Loving it and surfing again.
Im 60 about 65kilos riding a 5ft 8in Tomo SFX 25.? litres great all round board I feel I can surf to about 85 - 90% of my own ability when the stars are aligned. The board I could ride at my OWN 100% ability when all of the universes are really together was a Simon Anderson 5ft 10in Face Dancer epoxy 25.0 litres super refined brilliant high performance equipment until some knob dropped in on me and completely totalled it a sad day indeed.
Old dog 25litres at your weight that's a submarine.
Mealsurf was there this time 2 years ago surf heaven enjoy. We haunted Coxos
A high performance softboard is a must. I ride it 80 percent of the time and catch a heap of waves. I'm sure people get upset with my high wave count and drop in on me. They are supreme in full slower waves and exciting when it is hollow as you need to nurse the turns. It makes jumping on my hard boards seem more exciting too.
Redmondo. You probably deserve to be dropped in on.
Had a read of this yesterday i’m not running out to buy one but can see some novelty value.
I have been riding them for years coz you could surf them at cottesloe during summer. Some days it would crank off the groin if you didn't have a foamy you miss out and be very stressed. And I definitely need a longer board for the larger days I got held up in the lip three times on my six ft Short board the other day. I was seduced by the boards write up. Had a 6.10 in the Margs area it made life a lot easier on demanding days. I will be going to garage sales looking For something with some length and stability. A lightening bolt maybe.
just picked this beauty up from Pieter recently :- 7'10' x 24' x 31/4" old guy special,
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How things change. My last post,above nov 2018,& I'd picked up that Peter pieburger great looking board but never got to ride it. At the time i picked it up i got diagnosed with Temporal Arteritus (hits old folks) & was put on 100mg prednisone, This condition has many facets, all bad, main one is you can go blind quickly! & after that comment from Dr I heard nothing else, shat myself !! Due to the TA & prednisone I fell in a big hole & the black dog had a go at me.So, here I am 9 mths later 15kg heavier,(119kg) due to steriodal meds, & nearly 67yo. What board & tech do i ride, because ride I will. Been looking around & found a Joe Blair big boy board 2nd hand.8'6"x251/4"x31/4",surfboard shape rounded pin quad (say that in one breath). Moral of the story, keep trying diff boards guys you never know whats around the next corner (wipeout). Any suggestions re boards & tech will be greatly appreciated, UT.