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?
Wow thirsty, that's a tough diagnosis. Hang in there. I am 67 also and just try to enjoy every wave, even the ones that don't turn out quite the way you wanted!
Christ 100mg Prednisone is a huge amount !
Sorry guys watching J bay & cant reply on Mob. Yeah its been interesting to say the least. TA, actually its called Giant cell Arteritus & autoimmune category. Cells in arteries swell up & block off blood flow to brain! Ha as if I needed that! Along with this come polymyalgia rhematica :- IE sore shoulders & hips, just what I need ! Anyway I'm now down to 7mg prednisone /day & still, shall I say Fked, but not as bad as before. But I'll be in the surf tomoz. Hopefully the 8'6" will turn up nxt week & i'll be back! Sorry about the rant but I'm fukin surf starved!
Uncle , really sorry to hear about your illness , but love the passion you are showing into getting back into the water.....
I have a bit of a story about having to give up my 5 10's and 6 3 's , and go to bigger boards..am 65 ..and have very beat up body from a lot of injuries over 50+ years of surfing....
Had a couple of bouts with cancer the last one was treated with hormones and radio therapy , which devastated the old body put on 15 kgs , very lethargic for a few years , and getting to my feet became too hard , so I started making longer , wider surfboards ...disclaimer I surf Bells and Winki mostly which has longer walls........the biggest problem was getting to my feet , so I started making boards wider longer and thicker , as I wanted to retain the high performance aspect of my surfing .....I now have all my boards at 22" wide x 3" + thick......very foiled out rails / tail and nose so all the thickness is under the chest...at 95Kgs , am now riding a quiver of a 6 8 shortboard, 7 3 stepup , an 8 0 gun ( cam surf at head high if good waves) and a 9 6 gun x 21 1/2 x 4 1/2....it's all about the ease in getting into the wave then to your feet without stumbling , as soon as to my feet , it all comes back......
Don't go too wide as you will never turn the bloody things off the top.......hope ya get some great waves , remember its all about smiles on dials / the biggest winner is the biggest grinner.......fuck I am just happy these days to just surf on the really good days , and pick the best waves...
Suggestion for you.
Grant lives on South Coast NSW, Not sure if he has started taking orders again due to finishing a house he is building but def worth a call.
Agree with H20,
Grant knows his stuff. I'm late fifties and riding a 7/6" Powerglide thruster and love the board more and more - nice sweet spots and surprisingly responsive in two to five foot waves. Also fine for just grovelling about. My son, who is young, fit and normally rides well under 6' foot boards, took it out for a session and loved it.
I was at Grant's place a couple of weeks ago and he didn't have his shaping bay up but you should get in touch anyway, he might be able to put you onto a suitable second hander.
Thanks guys, I'll keep this short, going out now. Yes, Grant makes great boards I've had about 10 over the years, from F-skate,powerglides, etc, all customs & fukin great boards. But he's working on his property ATM & then going state side & his shaping list will be long when he gets back. Currently got Pieters boards, 9'1 & 8'6' sbb's, again great boards. My prob, apart from age & medical is surfing Sydney Northside closeouts, I'm slow their fast!....LOL.... Brutus, Laurie & H2O, thanks for the comments & I'll get back on here tomz. UT (out).
Laurie, are you admin on here? Can I PM guys on here somehow? Also do you think that a specific page for surfers with medical issues could be of benefit? Those of us who have been thru "the wars" with some issues could offer support.Eg:- I
'm a memeber of "surfing after hip replacement" site & folks on there find the support really good. Just an idea.
No Thirsty, I am just a contributor. Stu is the editor and Ben is the owner. They have talked about PMs but it needs a bit of work to set it up ......... and they are pretty much flat out on the surf reports. If you want your email sent to someone Stu will usually do that if you post a request here.
Old site used to have PMs
And no-one used them!
These days I'm like an old-style telegraph operator relaying trunk calls.
Uncle, if you wanna send an email to Laurie, then shoot one to me: [email protected]
I used to a lot.
Until the restraining order...
Have a look at the work in this ......got it all going on but a work of art none the less.
My goodness that is a work of art!!! Imagine the amount of work that went into that, glassing and polishing alone, would have been a nightmare. Hats of to the artisans involved in that project.
Levi Jones is a wizard when it comes to restoring boards, but he's also pretty adept at making his own pieces of functional art - though that last one swings more towards 'art' than 'function'.
That one is 70's in the extreme. I think I can hear Dark Side of the Moon playing in the background.
Hi guys, well here we are even further down the track, Now down to 3mg Prednisone per day, feeling much better,loosing weight & working on fitness, Been a long journey, sold all my boards due to depresion as a result of what prednisone does to your head but recently came out of the fog & got a newie, Pieter 8'10"x23'x3' roundtal. Havnt ridden it yet but bustin a gut to get on it
View this post on Instagram
So stoked for ya , Unclethirsty
Board looks unreal. Glad to hear that surfing is helping to bring you into the light. Hope you get some nice ones.
Good luck mate.
That first rush of salt water over your back is going to feel magic.
good work uncle
Brutus, great news & video re your situation. Keep surfing & shaping. Best of long term luck & karma to you & yours.
Welcome back, Uncle. All the best.
I have been surfing for 30 years and will be 57 in February. Over the last 10 years I have been really struggling to catch many waves, so I started what has turned out to be a very expensive, and frustrating period of my surfing life. I have bought and sold 12 different boards in that time, and got sucked into what I call 'Mid Length Hell', and fell for all the lies and marketing hype.
However I am now riding a Modern Falcon 8'0 which is by far the best board I have owned so far, and i have had some great waves on it, but overall I am still struggling to catch many waves per session, and can't seem to paddle hard enough to get onto waves early, despite surfing 3-4 times per week and being surf fit.
I am 183cm and 97kg so losing some weight might help, but I just don't seem to have the paddle strength or power that most other surfers have, which I have never been able to work out to be honest.
I bought a Modern Golden Rule 9'1 stock standard Mal but it's too heavy and I still can't seem to paddle into waves that much better with it, and it's not suitable for faster/steeper waves.
I then got Brett Munro to design a 7'10 custom board but despite giving him a very clear set of guidelines and specific information about the need to help my paddle power the board he built was far too thin, and high performance and nowhere near enough volume so it's sitting in my room, after 3 bad surfs and not catching a single wave on it.
I can't tell you how frustrating this has been and my surfing and confidence has been shattered, but I will keep trying to find the elusive board for me.
Just for the record these are the boards I have tried over the last 10 years.
Liquid Lines Mini Mal 7'6 (Should never have sold it)
Firewire 7'6 (Way Too Thick and hard to Paddle)
Ecobean 6'6 (Way too Loose and wrong board for me)
Hypto Crypto 7'0 (Only for Advanced/HP surfers)
McCoy Nugget 7'2 (Got a few good waves but still low wave count)
Sideways Fun Board 7'2 (Absolute Crap)
Modern Love Child 7'6 (Got a few good waves but still low wave count)
Walden Mega Magic 2 SLX 7'2 (Way too Fat and Slow)
Anti-Mal 7'6 ( Shocking Experience, Never again)
Modern Falcon 8'0 (Best so far but still low wave count per session)
Brett Munro 7'10 (No waves after first 3 surfs)
Modern Golden Rule 9'1 (Only for slow, fat days)
wanna sell that 7'10" Munro?
Not sure what is happening with the paddling mate, could you give us some more info?
Though I don't have the answer, it sounds like something with a simple remedy. If it's paddle strength you need, then forget about boards for a moment and work on your body. Get some one-on-one coaching and hit them up for exercises you can do to increase your strength and also exercises to maintain it. Even the best length of fibreglass won't atone for lax fitness.
Once you're catching more waves per session then start dialling in your equipment.
What was the problem with the Anti-Mal ?
Thanks for the replies and will take your advice Stu and try to build my shoulder/arm strength and I def need to lose a few kg's as well which i am working on.
Yes am going to sell the 7'10 Munro and will put it up on Gumtree soon but you can also email me at [email protected] if you are keen,
But the boards i have chosen in the past haven't really helped me either, and I found the Super Mal was a dog to paddle, and not very good quality either,
Look at paddling technique too.
All the best. It's a shitty situation, but there are ways out of it.
Thanks mate, it's been a tough 10 years for me in lots of ways, but I love surfing and I am a determined old bastard. Every now and then I get a real gem and it keeps me going, but it's so hard to watch everyone from little kids to surfers in the 70's get more waves than I do, day after day, year after year. Most people would have given up by now faced with the same results.
Sacrilege I know but...try fitting a Boost (powered) fin. If that doesn't work....
There’s a good suggestion about weight from milesp at the bottom of page 1 of this thread. It makes a huge difference. You should also consider a board shaped by Grant Miller when you’re thinking about your next board.
Re paddling technique, I found this guy's videos very good:
Here's the youtube channel:
There's a lot of stuff there, but sift through it and find some gold. I reckon having started quite late in life, you may benefit from this.
tldr: keep your elbow higher when paddling, so as to not apply downwards pressure with your hand during the stroke (as that'll keep you from getting down the face and catching the wave).
Phew. Sounds a struggle. Not too many 97kg surfers find it easy to paddle hard and pop up fast. Often the bigger guys are pushing quite a bit of water even on a mini mal and then the whole pop up process is slow making it hard to catch waves and get up and going.
A pretty floaty board is a must. Lose 10 kg weight and / or substantially work on arms strength would help.
BUT some of it might be attitude as well as wave catching and pop up technique that can be fixed more quickly. I often see older and bigger guys repeatedly do things like:
1. Try to stand up too soon before properly into the wave for reasons such as:
- subconsciously thinking being up and riding early is safe and they are then ready for the drop
- don't like popping up during the drop phase when things are happening fast when in fact it is easier then.
2. Lie a few inches too far back on the board due to worries about nose diving and so push a heap of water
3. In crowds just get snaked and / or they worry too much about wasting waves by blowing the take off and so pull back or don't REALLY go hard for a wave.
4. Paddle without digging deeper into the water - sometimes due to the beer belly but it can be habit.
5. Try to stand up too vertically immediately in the pop up increasing the effort and time to make the move.
etc. Bad habits are very common.
The other day I was out on a small right and did a few clunky take offs myself and put it down to being a bit rusty and maybe getting older. Then half way through the surf I noticed some tube potential of the first section of the wave I was surfing and tried to get in one and suddenly my pop up just fixed itself. The difference was that I started paddling harder to get in quick and on an angle to line up the barrel and stay low ready to be in the pocket straight away. I started thinking quicker, going harder and moving faster at every point from paddle to pop up. For the rest of the surf I was just slipping into the pocket nice and easy and felt 10 years younger.
I left the surf pondering what had just happened. It was simple. I was following advice I know well and have given before here or on some forum that I had forgotten to practice myself.
- finding some space way from the crowd on a good buoyant board that you can get some speed on when paddling.
- lie forward so your board's nose is just above the surface as you paddle.
- paddle like a demon for every wave you go for, even if the board catches them fairly easily, to get in early and make sure you really have the wave before you try to stand.
- paddle down the face a bit - a couple of extra strokes - before you stand up.
- think fast, look along the wave to where you want to go - so you angle a bit more than usual.
- exploit the fall of the board down the face of the wave to lessen the distance you have to raise your body (it is hard to do a good pop up on land or on a big fat shoulder than a steep wave).
- aim to stand up in a crouch first as though you are going for a small tube to lessen the whole pop up effort.
In practice, hopefully, by just a shift in thinking - "go hard, get that wave, move quick" muscle memory will do much of the rest. If not you might have to analyse a bit more what you may be stuffing up.
Some consistent work on the arms is a must so you can at least do a 10 second speed burst, and pull yourself down the wave and push up quickly. Push ups off a bench are good - do 100 reps 3 times a day at a minimum.
Try that next time...
Thanks so much Frogg for such detailed and excellent advice. There are some really great tips here for me, and anyone else who is having the same problems to try out and explore.
So many of these issues you highlighted resonate with me, but now I am excited to give these tips a try tmrw with a big 4m swell coming overnight. And thanks heaps Island Bay for the video links, will watch these tonight.
PS: Great to see the spirit of the surfing community still alive and well.
4m swell. Crikey. Bigger waves are easier. Got to paddle down that face on the peak. Shoulder hopping seems less scary but is way harder.
Been riding a mini mal a fair bit and enjoyed the wave catching ability and trim speed. Great for small fast point breaks and beachies. The old shortboard never seemed to get much use as in comparison the trim speed seemed so slow unless the wave really let you weave. In some video I could see it pushing water in a flat trim (too much rocker). Growing old gracefully seemed logical and the direction I was headed.
But something was missing. After a good run of surf I was getting a bit bored. I missed zippy turns and that sense of possibilities for carving when an open face arose. I also decided I don't like the feeling of a long board cutback or off the top - seem clunky and so much board to haul around. So with some trepidation and muted excitement I bought a short (6'2"), very wide (22"), 40 + litres rounded shape, low rocker high volume board unlike anything I have surfed before. I was not totally confident as I had seen these boards surfed very well here and there (most good footage though seemed to be from 75kg rippers). A lot of what I had seen done out in the surf from older guys was pretty ordinarily, however, lacking in trim speed and liveliness. Logic told me that it didn't have to be so with the volume, concaves, low rocker etc. So I was punting on my abilities a bit despite being late 50's and 85kg.
To my relief it goes great. Catches waves okay - have to work at it again (or lose 5kg maybe)? Not as well as I expected. The wide nose seems to make angled into the pocket takeoffs harder but still working that out. Maybe so, may be able to work around it with time.
- trims fast from the middle and even quite near the nose a bit like a long board once on a speedy section.
- changes to a much looser board once you step back and can weave up and down and squirt from section to section with a super lively feel.
- turns and responds really easily.
- gives a sense of excitement as you paddle into a good a wave (and even now thinking about my next surf) wondering what unexpected turns and moves might be possible.
- has reward for effort - as I started to surf faster and work the board more it gave back in speed and a sense of fun. So my whole surfing act livened up.
- it has the two boards in one feel - trim up front and then trim or turn from the back.
- it will probably be a bit wild and skatey in bigger stuff but I see this as a plus - being a little wild and out of control.
I know it has its limitations. The turns seem flatter and not sure how it will go in sucky barrels. It won't plane over really crappy fat sections like a mini mal. Not for 1 ft slop or fat gutless really small waves but what is? But for 2- 4 ft point and beach waves it should be a lot of fun. I am even thinking of trying to lose a few kg and get fitter and try to surf "youngish" for another 5 years or so.
So back to the thread title. The mini mal or long board is a good option and for some it is only option. But if you are fortunate to be reasonably agile and injury free there are quite a lot of shorter options.
By the way, you also need to have (or think how to regain) the wave and board sense to find the right trim and turn spots on the board and to pick the right lines on the wave. I have seen these boards (and all boards for that matter) surf like little short tug boats by people who just stand there slightly out of trim, who try to turn them from too far forward or don't find the speed pocket of a wave. These skills are subtle and you can't be lazy.. Fortunately once I sped up my brain a bit and shifted gears I still had it.
Instead of thinking about my next surf as "a surf" I am a bit excited.
Frog,so im curious to what board your talking about?
Well simba, it ain't a highly regarded shaper design or brand. Nor is it made for rippers. It is a mass produced Highline by Modern. It is promoted for beginners and intermediate surfers.
I looked at more performance type ones but wanted something way different to my older "fish" type thruster - I wanted very high volume for the board size. Many of the others were still around 33 to 36 litres which is what I was riding.
I had my doubts, however, after some research I judged they had put (borrowed) the various components of the many cool short wide boards that are around into the design and that these are now all fairly well understood. .So logic said it would work. And, I was backing my ability to make it work. I have always found once you get to know a board you can find its sweet spots.
There is one short video on the net of the board being ridden - which was not enough for me to judge well. They really should show more. So I spent time watching everything I could find being surfed that was a bit similar. That helped but it remained a bit of a punt buying it.
Going back to short means means that my range of spots to surf has expanded again which is good and I would now be able to transition to my 6' 6' if something serious was to be surfed much more easily (I was really bad at going from long to short).
Good for you Frogg
Hey Frog check out the chilli mid strength......fun board,more volume....
Thx. I looked at those. Mine is 46 litres at 6'2" so for better or worse I chose a very high volume whilst still short. My fitness varies quite a bit. The chilli at the volume I wanted would have been 6' 10" I think - too long for my plan.
Some great advice there frog.
Been pushing the weight/age curve myself this year, but in the wrong direction. Bought some scales recently and I'm up to 91, ideally at 5'10 I should be closer to 85. Going to give it a crack in 2021.
"Push ups off a bench are good - do 100 reps 3 times a day at a minimum."
Really 100 @ 3 x times per day, wow.
And here I was thinking my 30 @ once per day is sufficient.
Santa brought me some resistance bands for xmas, so I think I'm going to have to step it up a bit next year...
100 x 3 push-ups off a bench is just a minimum maintenance. Before surf trips I would do 3 x 200 plus surf plus 500 to 1000 + pull downs at the gym plus some swimming or kayaking - that meant lots of waves and easy popups and confidence.
I suspect your arm strength might be a big issue in your pop-up.
Technique is important but for me strong push up strength is the big lever. When I have it I barely have to think about it. If I let it slide I get slow and clumsy.
After a lot of surfs on the 6" 2" high volume (46L) (short - in my eyes) board I can report: I am still enjoying it heaps.
- getting quite surf fit now and catching waves easily - not like a mini mal though
- the basic trim speed is quite high even with no pump or weave.
- the board absolutely flies down the line on fast walled wave with a normal speed weave - feels almost frictionless as a lot of air gets under the board and it does not sink into the wave face much- the speed come without much effort.
- it is loose if you step back onto the sweet spot(s) and can carve from the back.
- foot position is important to get the most out of it - trim further forward is fastest (but trims fine further back), shift back to turn and the further back you go the looser it get and the more you can sink the rail.
- done well in some sucky take offs and I have been able to pull quickly into the tube - but not with the ease of a narrow low volume board. This is gets better over time.
At this point I don't see negatives - just compromises that I expected and am happy accept and to work around:
- if your feet are too far forward after the pop up as has happened sometime on late take offs on small waves the buoyancy and width does not let you sink a rail from a forward position to pull into the pocket - in a super quick small wave you don't have time to shift back or nurse it around.
-your average turn is flatter and has less rail action cutting into the wave face.
- foot position matters quite a lot to get the most out of it. The extra volume and width sometime means weird things happen if your feet are not placed right - i.e. it tracks straight or the turn ends up flatter than your expected so your body has leaned to far over.
In my view after surfing one and watching a lot of videos, I think a lot of people go too short in these types of boards and lose the paddle speed and trim speed for no really advantage. To me a 6' 2" fits in small waves well enough.
Overall, I am way happier having gone short rather than staying on a longer board. A whole bunch of sucky waves I avoided are now back on the agenda. If it is 2 foot plus and peeling I am having fun. I can carve again and have a sense of freedom on a open face to go all over the wave again. If it is 4 foot and zipper fast I am flying at speeds my old shortboard could not match..
These board are fine for cruising around on and easy to turn for an older surfer. I am just trying to get more out of them than perhaps they were designed for and so thoughts on foot position matter more to me than the average rider.
sweet. enjoy that excellent analysis Frog.
Another great surf today in overhead walls. Board went fast, turned on a dime easily, squirted out of cutbacks. Stood with my backfoot on the tailpad and did not move up and down the board like in smaller waves. Felt i was going noticeably faster on the wave than the other guy out on a normal shortboard.
I can duck dive it even though it is 46 litres.
I no longer view it as a compromise for an older surfer. It is a super fun valid design that happens to paddle well. Felt 22 not 60.
For me, the mini mal option was a wrong detour that was lessening my surf stoke - making me surf and think "old" before my time.
I reckon it's a big mistake to go long only, when you get past a certain age, short boards actually surf so much more responsively than " longer for paddle ins" type boards. The trick is the volume and not going too wide either. Getting the right mix of length and volume is probably one of the hardest things to nail when you're past 55, I suppose it's just how you perceive your surfing style, mals cruise, short boards are more dynamic.
sorry if you already mentioned but what specific design is the board Frog?
Good stuff Ash. I reckon I could still cruise on a dynamic board.
Thanks for sharing Frogg.
Really enjoy reading the analysis of your transition.
I have never really considered a mini-mal, and now thanks to you and Ash I never need to!
@Frogg RE: the push ups and pop ups. I don't ever have an issue with pop-ups. Doing 30 push-ups per day (plus some other outdoor exercise daily) gives me enough confidence and strength to catch more than enough waves in a session. Besides, I don't surf enough nor catch an abundance of waves every time I surf. Never used gyms, just kept it simple, with more of a focus on cardio-vascular fitness.
And like you say, after the pop-up if your feet aren't in the sweet spot it can be sometimes difficult to adjust depending on the wave. There are multiple reasons for a board not performing up to expectation on any given day, but I am guessing that many times it may be more of a case of 'operator error'. I can certainly vouch for this.
Having confidence in your fitness will prepare you for the challenging days, but ultimately on the day it's going to be up to both you and your equipment. And Huey.
I went longer intending to mix it up but found going from the long board to the short board really hard. I had become lazy on take offs and standing on a short board felt weird. I felt all out of sorts the whole session. Now back on the short board exclusively it feels totally natural again.
My mini mal would be better in knee high waves maybe. I really enjoyed the speed and length of ride in zipper fast small waves on the mal but once that novelty had worn off I had realised that I painted myself into a corner of looking for smaller lined up surf and avoiding other options.
The turning point was when I had a really good surf back in December which was crying out for a big cutback on the middle section and then a re-entry in the shore break. On the mini mal I just zipped through the middle section in a straight line and pulled off in the shorebreak. Yes, I did try some cutbacks but stopped bothering cause to me they felt clunky and slow. I had no desire to try to work on my big board moves cause the reward was (in my eyes) not there.
This is a personal preference from early surfing experiences imprinted on my brain. I see some very good longer board riders carving but it is just not the "feel" I am looking for..
But I like the feel of:
- being able to explore the curves of a wave at will - up, down, swoop, carve etc.
- fitting easily into the curves of the wave - not adjusting all the time to stop the nose of a longer board catching
- accelerating out of cut backs
- seeing a lip and hitting it with speed and flow
- being able to duck dive - hugely important at some spots.
- swinging around last minute to take off.
Fortunately I am still largely injury free and nimble and can surf not much different from my younger days. But for a while there on the mini mal my self talk was becoming negative and wrong - too old for spot X, won't enjoy spot Y, yes I am slowing down, can't make takeoffs on fast sucky waves etc. Worst of all, I was not as excited at the prospect of quality waves or when a really nice one lined up for me as I am now.
I could probably surf a more traditional performance board quite well when surf fit. But I still wanted something quite different - especially the easy speed when paddling and on a wave.
As mentioned before, I have found that a short wide, flat rocker groveler can actually be a performance board of sorts if you surf it right. Don't go too short though otherwise you are back where you started struggling to catch waves and getting less speed on the wave.