Why Do We Quit?

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Swellnet Dispatch

The conventional wisdom, honed to perfection through sixty years of surf media, hijacked by advertising campaigns for everything from cars to retirement homes to haemorrhoid creams, shining with the light of a thousand suns from the Wozzle, is that surfing is the greatest thing on Earth. The thing that the whole planet craves, deserves, and cherishes.

Don't get me wrong, it's fucken awesome, but if you look around and take an honest view, most people quit.

Most people quit surfing. They give up. They stop.

There, for the first time in sixty years of surf media, it's been said.

The question is: If surfing is the best thing on Earth, why do they stop? Or maybe, how?

A quick rewind...

I've always pondered this question of quitting and the mismatch between the conventional wisdom and reality, but it was a recent interview posted here on Swellnet with Ultimate Surfer producer and Ultimate Fighting Championship Prez Dana White that really made me sit up and think.

Dana is 52, fit, rich beyond belief (net worth 500 million, yearly salary 20 million), claims to love surfing, and yet he quit.

For a guy who has made bottomless money sending half-naked men and women into a cage to beat the living shit out of each other his reason seemed faintly ludicrous. He claimed it was too dangerous and that at 52, “I've got no business being out there”.

OK, I guess that is reason 1 - and one I'd never really considered. Danger in a world where Dana could spend every weekend at Kelly's pool with every possible variable tweaked to suit him seems surreal.

Dana also gets reason 2 under the belt in that interview. He took his kids to Fiji from a young age, hoping that they would embrace the surfing lifestyle and yet they, “didn't gravitate towards surfing like I hoped.” Despite, or maybe because of, every effort made to get them into it, some kids don't dig it.

Surfing isn't interesting, or cool, or even fun, ain't a headline I expect to see anytime soon but for a certain percentage of kids exposed to it, that's the truth. Minecraft and Fortnite and YouTube offer far more reward for effort and instant gratification. Surfing is hard, takes lots of time to learn, and is ill-suited to dabbling.

Paradoxically, kids with too much access to good surf and who get good quickly are also prone to quitting. They grow up in the country with plenty of time and good surf on hand, get expert, then move to the city to study, make a living etc etc. The diminishing returns of crowded city beachbreaks, or commutes to the coast for surf soon get tiresome, especially if the hedonistic pleasures of city nightlife come into play. Time speeds up and five, ten, fifteen years go by and the teenage shredder is no more. Drugs and alcohol dull the mind and body. It no longer responds to the ocean.

(Photo: Peter Jovic)

Adulthood is a more traditional barrier, and one still seen in the till seen in less developed countries. Kids do it, then they grow up and are expected to make a living and provide for a family. Mexican kids become fishermen, Indonesians have family and/or religious obligations, neither of which are compatible with downing tools and ducking off when the surf is pumping.

The Western world has seen a reversal of that arc; adulthood is now the time to start, not quit. That reflects socio-economic realities: you need a good job, a steady, even high income, to live near the coastline in California, New South Wales, France etc etc. High-income adults and working from home has been the perfect storm for a boom in adult learners.

When adulthood morphs into parenthood a rubicon is crossed for many. Too many demands, too little time. The little windows available don't match up with waves. A couple of weeks go by, then months, without a go out. The next surf is a chore, even a disaster. The skills have atrophied, the timing is off, the lack of fitness feels humiliating. Joy turns to frustration, stoke to bitterness.

Amazing really, this incredibly common phenomenon has never been studied, let alone admitted to in public.

The downward spiral can come on more stealthily. An injury, or even just a form slump, maybe an extended period of bad waves: a terrible spring followed by an average summer. Two or three bad surfs in a row starts to become a little monkey on the back. A half a dozen and other things start to become more appealing. A better return on time invested.

Golf claims many. Running and cycling too. No need to worry about winds, tides, swell, crowds and the other vicissitudes of the surfing life. You show up and tee off. Every. Single. Time.

Some quit when they reach the summit of some personal Everest they have decided on. I've never associated goals with the surfing life but others have. Greg Noll wanted to ride the biggest wave and when he did, that was it. Done. Walked away. Never went back.

We all experience that when coming back from Indo, or anywhere with good, consistent waves. After peak experiences in great surf the more mundane surf we normally ride just doesn't make the grade. A good case of Indo-itis usually subsides within a month, but for some it's a much more persistent disease. A pal I know hung up the boots after a particularly insane season at Desert Point. Too much tube time melted his brain and he simply had to quit.

Crowds can drive a person to quit. As can predators. All respect to our fallen comrades who have ended up on the wrong end of shark "encounters", but I've seen increased shark encounters/attacks make people dry dock the boards for good. 2015, when Ballina had a horror year you could surf by yourself every day. Most of the quitting was temporary but for some the risk became too great. They never paddled out again.

Other factors are more prosaic. From the cult film Big Wednesday: “Some died, some moved inland.” Both excellent reasons to cease paddling out.

Really, when you look around, the lifers are the exception and for so long, to sustain the founding myth of modern surfing - that it is the “ultimate thrill” - we've confused the exception with the rule. Maybe it's an inconvenient truth too painful to acknowledge?

The rule is: Most people quit.

As for me personally? To paraphrase the old Iron Lady herself: “The lady's not for turning”.

Comments

doolybird's picture
doolybird's picture
doolybird Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:34am

I must admit a certain spark for surfing dimmed for me around October last year when I was sitting in my local lineup which pre covid was relatively uncrowded with 50 to 60 other punters, Im still trying to get it back....

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:14pm

This. I enjoy surfing alone more than anything. More than with just close friends, hooting, trading barrels etc. Me in the ocean by myself with no-one in sight, even on the beach, nourishes me in a way having any other people around cannot. I'm the first guy out there in the pitch black every morning for this very reason. Covid crowds have certainly put a strain on my enthusiasm for the sport.

doolybird's picture
doolybird's picture
doolybird Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:44pm

Yup I used to be the first guy out as well in the dark before dawn....now if the conditions are good....its just me and a dozen other guys at that time. Not really complaining as I wont begrudge the other punters finally being able to surf all day due to covid, working from home etc something Ive always enjoyed due to the flexible hrs I had at my work but jeez its does take the shine off my keeness now. I guess Ill have to learn to take it on when its 15 foot plus not as many guys out then.....hehe...just kidding those guys can have that as well...

Goodwolf's picture
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Goodwolf Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 1:11pm

Recognising myself in you fellas! Too shattered for an early start this morning and feeling unenthused for a sunny afternoon surf. Seems to be the opposite for many folks, judging by the cams.

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:36am

Great Article - as something I can relate to, being 58, locked down and working in Melbourne with fitness and reactions becoming dull. All the running and exercise in the world doesn't replace a good surf, with the peace and relaxation it gives the mind. Not time to give up yet, and I don't think it ever will be.

arnie's picture
arnie's picture
arnie Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:24am

Ditto OHV500, it's especially hard now with the swimming pools closed as well.

surfndingo's picture
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surfndingo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:06pm

I was going to say the same thing. I've just turn 60 , in Melbourne and not able to do the yearly pilgrimage to Indo (yet alone get to the Island each week for a wet session). Over the last 20 years that yearly Sumatran trip has not only rekindled the stoke but also kicked up my wave fitness to fight on another year. Sadly now with 18 months of almost no surfing I feel the road back at 60yrs old may be a tuff one. dp

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:52pm

Totally get that - an Indo trip gets the fitness and the body going for another year. 59 this month and fucked if I'm going down easy :)

neiltreg's picture
neiltreg's picture
neiltreg Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:13pm

Keep that drive in your soul! I'm nearly 61. Four months ago I had melanomas and all lymph nodes removed from my groin. I had to get used to walking before attempting to surf and was hanging out body and mind. Slowly getting back into it but fortunate not to have to battle serious crowds. Keep on pushing, it's worth it.

Hoodie's picture
Hoodie's picture
Hoodie Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:42pm

Nailed it. 52 in Melbourne, missed a Banyks and should currently be floating around the Central Atolls.
Especially missed the comradery of the fellas on a surf trip.
Can't swim in the local pool, even the Tulla tub is closed and outside my 5ks.
The only thing to do is drink and eat.
It's going to be a long hard road back, losing 10 kgs and getting fit but I'm not ready to quit just yet.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:41am

Really interesting thoughts FR.

Like you mentioned, surfing is hard.

In addition to the points you’ve made I’d like to point out that most people ‘quit’ all physical pursuits as they have more birthdays.

Shoulders get too sore for tennis, once you’re 30 you generally can’t afford to be doing an ACL from footy. Unless you are a tragic, you get tired of spending every Sunday and two nights a week at the cricket oval.

I don’t really see surfing as that much different?

Is it really true most people quit? I’m not sure.

Will be interesting to see how long VAL’s surf for??

I live in a surf town. My kids are into it but if it wasn’t for me I’m not sure if they would. Very few of their peers surf and most of my surfing friend’s kids don’t surf. Most local sessions are predominantly shared with 20 -50 y.o

damo-b's picture
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damo-b Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:47am

When you stop surfing you are breaking up with the ocean.

Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:40pm

That's totally not true.
I don't surf much these days after a couple of bad injuries have really hampered me. But I'm forever around the ocean and cannot imagine life without it. Surfing is an activity that we persue for whatever reason and the waves are a by product of the ocean. It's the ocean that refreshes me both physically and mentally. It's the ocean that cleanses my soul with each swim. It's the ocean that's shaped our shores and created our environment. In the big picture, surfing is actually quite miniscule and there's no fucking way I'm ever breaking up with ocean.

simba's picture
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simba Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:42pm

Well said

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:49pm

What if she dumps you Pete?

batfink's picture
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batfink Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 2:34pm

Very droll Zen. She keeps dumping me, but I keep coming back crawling and begging. She only takes me back so she can dump me again.

Fishlegs's picture
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Fishlegs Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:23pm

Yeah mate, injuries catch up with you one day. So now I get the same joy from watching forecasts and trying to be on the spot when it's at it's best "No paddle out required"

damo-b's picture
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damo-b Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 7:45am

Stop surfing and you and The Ocean are sleeping in different rooms.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 7:50am

What if the ocean roars like my wife snores?

Lex.M.Brennan@gmail.com's picture
Lex.M.Brennan@gmail.com's picture
[email protected] Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 8:54am

Fuck yes Pete Jovic. The ocean is a balm to my worries and a salve to my COVID tortured soul. Among a massive crowd of 300 from Bar Beach to Pogos, or paddling alone under moonlight at Blueys Beach in lolling surf.

I’m 41, and I learned to surf at the tender age of 37. I’m average at best, usually fall down as soon as I get up, and am not ashamed to say so. But I finally bought a Gunther Rohne at 6 ft 6, and at 6 ft 3 and 80kg myself, 37 litres is my minimum size now, having spent 3 years on fucking performance boards because my mates who had surfed from childhood said they were what’s right for me.

So I’m not breaking up with surfing, I’m falling in and out of love by kindling the stoke and fanning the flames.

Love the ocean. Love surfing. Love community. Love connection.

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:15pm

Absolutely not true. I am coming out of an 18 month hiatus and over those 18 months barely a minute went by without at least a gentle whimper of an ocean thought flowed through my thoughts.
Look up, the sky, is it the same on the coast. Storms, wind, onshore/offshore, whale season, salmon season. Crop is flowering, is it 3ft, 4ft, 15ft?
1ft. How good would the snorkelling be? Fishing. BBQ. Camping. Body bash barbie? And on and on and on....

Either I am losing my mind or I am well and truly not alone. I believe the latter. ;)

fcalmon's picture
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fcalmon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:53am

The older I get, the less tolerant to crowds I get. Therefore I surf less and the less I surf the more unfit I get. Then, because I am unfit I cannot get the waves I want and it it makes me even more frustrated. Hard to get out of this vicious circle....

Roker's picture
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Roker Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:58am

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:26pm

Another magic 'Yes Minister' style Thatcherism was purportedly, when informed of the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands:
"Send HMS Ark Royal," she decreed (big fixed-wing aircraft carrier)
"We can't."
"Why not?"
"You scrapped her, ma'am."

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:59am

I'm 57 now and been surfing pretty well my whole life since double digits.

I paddled out into decent waves at my local this morning which was packed. From the time I got out there I was thinking I'm just gunna get a couple of good ones and go in.

No way I would've had that mindset in good surf in years gone by. I would have been out there until I was knackered but then the experience would have been way better because there would have been a lot less people out.

Back to this morning: after 4 waves, 2 of which were good set waves including my last one, I came in. Took me the best part of an hour to achieve that, partly due to an uneven 4-6ft swell and constant sweep, but mainly due to sheer numbers.

Ever increasing crowds EVERYWHERE you go will be the reason I quit, not physical limitations.

I joined my local golf club a few years ago and it's good, reliable fun partly for reasons FR outlined above.

HaddoCurl's picture
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HaddoCurl Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:08pm

Yep Ringmaster I’m also 57 been surfing all my life as well and it’s the crowd that does my head in. I’m getting out of the water feeling stressed and it seems in the last 18 months the fun factor gets harder to find. That said I’m going to keep at it and try to maintain the froth.

jshe35's picture
jshe35's picture
jshe35 Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 4:24pm

Knew you'd be on this thread having a sook ringlicker, quit or shut the fuck up!

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 6:56pm

I'm gunna open an 'Instawank' account so you can follow me properly!

jshe35's picture
jshe35's picture
jshe35 Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:56pm

Doubt you'd have time ring banger, with all your whinge fest on this site and your over used grinder account !

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 8:33pm

The more you post the more you reveal about your 'lifestyle' choices.

richieb's picture
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richieb Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:00am

Great article - thanks. I turned 70 this year and am still surfing at my local break and loving it, maybe more than ever, because hey, I might not be able to do this tomorrow, for whatever reason. It helps that my wife loves surfing too, so we often go out together if the schedule allows (she is 60+ as well). I find that I only need to get two or three good waves every time to keep the stoke going. Why give up something I really enjoy just because I've reached retirement age?

bonza's picture
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bonza Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:41am

I love hearing this. great stuff

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:35pm

Well done I turned 62 recently so you are someone I really admire and hope I am when I get there. Keen as ever but....boards are a bit wider and thicker and with one less fin.

Shaunp's picture
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Shaunp Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:46pm

My dad is 72 and still surfs regularly. He misses a few days when he has a Dr appointment (becoming more regular), or if the conditions are too intense for him now. He has been surfing since he was a kid, and is not one bit interested in stoping. I always keep a bit of an eye on him when we are surfing together, just in case he gets into trouble. I guess it's the same as when he got me into it as a very young kid, and always having his eye on me.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:18pm

Onya mate. Sounds like a fantastic relationship you have with the old boy.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:28pm

Giving goes in circles - nice post bud

bigbird's picture
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bigbird Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 1:42pm

just cracked 70 also and love it like a grom. I still get that same buzz taking off and running along the face, and why leave that. Just had a week at straddie and had waves galore.

savanova's picture
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savanova Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:00am

A non surfing friend said surfing was my church, I said no it's more like the pub, good times with like minded mates just the beers come afterwards.

PAG's picture
PAG's picture
PAG Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:02am

quit and go buy a bike, very cool

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:35pm

With a big engine but do both.

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:44pm

Got a 160mm enduro monster delivered yesterday! Not quitting surfing just yet though but happy to give the Melb city crew a few more waves through summer when they are let out

stunet's picture
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stunet Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:27am

What kind? Brand, model etc..

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:05am

Marin alpine xr enduro bike. Crazy how much bikes have changed in the last 10 years, had a giant reign and a Kona stinky back when I lived in Perth in the 26in wheel days and hadn’t ridden much since

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:18am

Nice. That's a lotta bike - hope you've got some big hills nearby.

I also went the Bicycles Online route - shops around here aren't expecting stock till well into the new year - but opted for a Polygon Siskiu 160/160. First time on a 29er.

Never mind ten years, my last bike was a five-year old Range and the improvements even in that time are incredible. The new bike climbs noticeably better despite having more plush suspension.

Enjoy...

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:04am

Thanks mate. Yeh same with me, no stock around + unbeatable spec for the price on bicycles online range too. I’m 5min away from the red hill/Arthur’s seat trails so mostly dh focused. Looking forward to hitting the Vic alps too!

BÓTON's picture
BÓTON's picture
BÓTON Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 2:42pm

That’s the era I rode fervently in, now bikes are so damn good you need real hills to chuck them down or I feel it’s a waste!!

Spent two weeks on a rental in Whistler few years ago
And blew my mind

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:06am

Thought when my sons grew up we would all be surfing together...one was getting into it but got a board to the head and went boogie boarding....didnt 'love' it... liked it. The other likes the beach and body surfing but dosent 'love' it like i did.Getting old with injuries cropping up all the time ,get over one and 12 months later something else rears its head,always something around the corner.....used to be the keenest guy around ,paddling out in the dark to beat the crowd or just to get a few before work,lunchtimes near the surf were spent ..surfing...and this went on for 30 years or so .But now its a struggle...have a couple new boards unwaed just sitting there waiting for the latest rehab on the knee to finish but the flame is weakening slowly getting snuffed out by covid and its endless crowds and now on top of that more shark attacks.....see im the guy who sits on his own away from the crowds but they follow me like sheep ....and the dark thoughts of a possible white pointer near by keeps me looking for shadows and not concentrating on surfing..........not sure if those boards will get waed up in a couple months or not but im forever grateful to surfing cause it was the love of my life for 50 years ......

Bob Sacamano's picture
Bob Sacamano's picture
Bob Sacamano Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:16am

Diminishing returns - Grew up on the South Coast NSW and surf amazing waves with no crowds. Fast forward a few years (decades) and the GC crowds become a huge barrier to me and consistent surf. I don't do crowds. I'll play a round of golf before I paddle out rainbow de janeiro. The open beaches offer enough to stay sane but then being surf fit and overall ability take a hit. Fishing is becoming another means to get a fix in or by the water.

brandonrooney14's picture
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brandonrooney14 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:05am

Goody based, too. I’ve found myself doing the same thing with fishing. Massive, massive information and gear vortex to get stuck into. Mind is always ticking over thinking about different rigs, presentations and then like.

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:19am

I'm turning fifty early next year and noticed a few changes recently.

The first was I bought a mid-length and actually kept it in the back of the car next to my shorty. Had an epiphany at the traffic lights near Coles, looked behind me and saw the bulbous, double-ended thing sitting there and said to myself: "Fuck...I ride a mid-length".

The image of myself shattered, I sat there in near-silence - broken only by the faint sound of beeping horns.

I also ordered a new shorty and, in hushed tones, told DP to fill it out across and through the middle. Just a quarter-inch each way. Felt like some small defeat.

I always thought that when I got older and the magic slipped away I'd connect with the ocean by keeping fins in the car and bodybashing every morning, but I realise that won't be as easy as I thought. I'm fairly addicted to the rush of surfing, particularly shortboard performance or bigger waves when possible, and I realise an readjustment is in order if simply bodybashing is to fill my cup. I'll have to be content with simple connections with nature, being up early, observing the rhythms of the coast etc etc.

I imagine rockfishing would be great for that.

I also found a good proxy for surfing in enduro mountain biking, and most of the crew I ride with are surfers of similar age. We've got lots of beautiful, steep bushland to build trails, nice blue flow trails to surf the bush, and heaps of the kids from the beach are also getting into it. Not uncommon on flat days to see them in groups of ten or twenty party train the tracks or session a jump.

MTB feels like the methadone to surfing's heroin - though deep down I know which one will win out.

Injuries don't help MTB's cause. I'm currently on crutches for six weeks after overcooking a gap and fracturing a tibia and tearing my meniscus. Last two years I've had more downtime from MTB injuries then in forty years of surfing.

stevehamilton_'s picture
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stevehamilton_ Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:32am

jeez youve got demons mate just ride the mid. dont have to be old and crippled to enjoy the pleasure of flow

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:49am

Sounds simple doesn't it?

But when you're whole surfing life has revolved around the pursuit of increasing performance, of competing - not necessarily in a formal sense but just to sit deep, take off late - and of testing yourself in situations slightly out of your control, then "going with the flow, man" doesn't immediately appeal. And that's all mid-length riding is.

Like I said, a readjustment is in order.

Tom Kenyon's picture
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Tom Kenyon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:10pm

I was talking to an older bloke on a paddle board a couple of years ago. He said he got into paddle boarding because he stopped improving on the surf board and had even started to go backwards. He'd spent 40 years progressing and he found it really difficult so he switched to the paddle board because he could keep improving on that.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:15pm

That's the point where I find myself right now. I can't imagine I'd ever give surfing up, but I'm contemplating where and how my energy will be directed.

Tom Kenyon's picture
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Tom Kenyon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:26pm

I'm not very good and never have been. I'm 49 and getting good from here is probably beyond me. Now I got out for the peace and de-stress that I find in the water. If I get one or two good waves then I'm really happy. I've just had to accept that I'm an ageing dog (don't say old yet) and that improving much from here requires a huge amount of time and coaching and I can't really afford either. But I still love it and I'll do it until I just can't paddle out the back any more.

Gonebush's picture
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Gonebush Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 5:36pm

I put myself in the same category!

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:30pm

I can’t believe you’ve nailed yourself again on the bike. Doesn't that mess with your head that you’re missing valuable surf time again due to pursuing another hobby?
I had rotator cuff injuries with my shoulders from doing CrossFit and it kept me out of the water for a while. I was so frustrated.
The whole reason I started CrossFit was really so I was in half decent shape for surfing, then it became the reason I couldn’t surf.
Now I’ve just been running and doing more body weight type exercises rather than weight lifting.

Having two kids under 3 and running my own business i probably average 1-2 surfs a week now if I’m being honest with myself.
Had a few mates quit that surprised me, and my brother and his mates are definitely surfing less these days.
I can’t ever see myself quitting, as others have said sitting out there alone with no one around there’s nothing like it. It almost leads to a relaxed bizarre meditation feeling sometimes.

One thing that does make me think is how long I will want to surf waves that get the heart rate up. Late 30’s now so don’t plan on stopping anytime soon surfing waves like this, just have to look at twiggy and co for inspiration, and there’s guys getting tubed at Speedies into their 70’s, so plenty of good waves to come yet.

Great article fr76…

stunet's picture
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stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:58pm

Yeah, first thought (after testing all my limbs for movement) was that I'd miss the coming south swell, the biggest in a few months.

That bummed me out.

Then the news just got worse and worse, but strangely I've been accepting of it. It's been a shit year and this is just keeping with the theme.

Regarding old blokes on the charge: In July, on one of my first surfs back, I watched an older bloke from around here pull back on a couple of sets at the point, clearly upbraiding himself for not going, before paddling waaaaay out to the back boils and sitting by himself.

Twenty minutes later he came screaming past on a beast that was well north of ten foot.

I figure that when it comes to getting old and getting the heart rate up, you need a wave nearby that lends itself to classic big wave surfing - longer boards, earlier entry.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:37pm

Agree on that last para.

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:44pm

Stu it gets worse wait until the mid to late fifties all of sudden you need to work twice as hard just to get out there. I have my son and his mates keeping me honest. Had to ditch performance boards for the new range of twinnies in all flavours - wider and thicker and even a longer one. Has been a revelation for me reinvigorating my whole mindset as I don't have to pump all the time and each time you go out it is new and challenging. Once I got over the whole issue and put up the white flag and started to just accept it I now enjoy it heaps more.

wiseautogas's picture
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wiseautogas Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:28pm

yep 20, 30, 40, still make those steep drops, now at 60 they look pretty daunting, your on the button, dial everything back, bigger boards, lower your expectations and go have some fun

richieb's picture
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richieb Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 11:18am

Yep, it is all about readjusting your expectations, and recognising your limitations, but if you can accept that, you can still have fun ....

dandob's picture
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dandob Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:00pm

Buy a Boog and come and get pitted. Everyday is overhead :)

The learning something new is what makes things exciting isn't it. When I was learning to ride a stick in my mid-20's I'd surf in conditions that I'd usually flag because the possibility of mastering something new was on offer.

100% the main reason I surf less at the moment is the Sharks. I was a lone bank on an isolated stretch of beach kinda guy until the young bloke at Wooli went down last year and brought it all home.

Now I often find I have to psych myself up to make the risk seem worth the reward, and often flag sessions with the thought " I've surf conditions like this before, I know what that offers and I'm not going to risk it for a bog standard surf session".

stevehamilton_'s picture
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stevehamilton_ Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:25pm

fair enough mate

fcalmon's picture
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fcalmon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:37pm

I feel your pain, I suffer from the same ill.... When you say readjustments you meant gear, physical or mental?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:11pm

I meant mental readjustment - lowering my expectations, altering what I want from surfing - but with that comes physical adjustments too.

fcalmon's picture
fcalmon's picture
fcalmon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:24pm

I thought so, that is the hardest of the adjustments. If you are used to a certain level and then you just cannot get there anymore.... Maybe a need to grow a set and get back to it and try and try....

John booth's picture
John booth's picture
John booth Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:25pm

All things change as you get older and accepting and adapting to change can be helpful. Change is unavoidable and inevitable. Clutching at what you used to look like, how you use to surf, mtb, snowboard, climb, yada yada yada can cause a lot of angst and remorse and inevitability, ceasing said activities

fcalmon's picture
fcalmon's picture
fcalmon Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:31pm

Words of wisdom.

SurferSam's picture
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SurferSam Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:06pm

Torren Martin might disagree with you on that one

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:33pm

Look, the dude is 6'2", has wavy blonde hair, nice teeth, and can cook, he was first in line when God doled out all the primo qualities, so it only stands to reason that he can rip on a seven foot egg with the wrong amount of fins.

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Gonebush Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:46am

I'm 46 and love riding a mid-length though they can be a mission to duck dive or take off on sucky waves due to being so flat. I'm a pretty average surfer despite nearly 30 years of surfing under my belt (with a 6 year hiatus living in London). I still ride my short boards occasionally but I was never a vertical surfer and like the glide of a mid.

The article is pretty accurate. Sometime I find my enthusiasm for surfing really wanes. That's usually when I've had 2 or 3 surfs in a row and I'm not getting many waves due to the crowd factor, often in summer. When it's super busy I'll just go for a flatwater SUP or take the kids for swim as get more enjoyment from that. It's hard to beat a good surf though.

kimbo1's picture
kimbo1's picture
kimbo1 Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:44am

Stu , You can stick to the short board concept with a bit of research on who builds a short that can be morphed up to suit . I’m 63 , just got my new Campbell Design / Toe 6 10 x 21 1/2 x 3 = 50 litres , catches waves like a mid length plus surfs fast and loose .

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:01pm

yep, embrace the mid...

or not...

I think the only thing steve missed in the quitting causes is ego. I reckon heaps of crew just cannot handle accepting they're no longer a contender on the point...

not saying you're there yet stunet, and not using ego in the negative sense of the word. it's just hard for anyone to accept you're not as good as you once were, and that now, your place is further down the line up...

as well as that, you're also not going to get the bombs or the mind blowing indo stoikers you once did... the law of diminishing returns is a huge mental challenge... which is similar to the kids that grow up in good waves. they peak too early, then it all just seems too hard for less returns

I learnt late, and in woeful surf, all through my twenties i envied those beach kids so so much, as I was just getting competent in good surf after I moved to better surf beaches. now I kinda look at the spoilt little brat beach kids, absolutely killing it, with their tiger mum benchong dads fulfilling their every whim, ...surf trips, surf cars, the hottest gear, ...and living vicariously through their kids... and i kinda feel sorry for the kids, wondering what real stoke they will find to keep them going in middle life

in some ways Im surfing better than ever, definitely not confident or comfortable in the waves I once was, but can read waves better and find that sweet spot more often than ever before. this is despite significant time out of the water due to injuries over the last ten years, where it takes months and months to get back in the groove

it's a mental game, I still have grommet enthusiasm, and luckily, some pretty low expectations, due to my late learning amongst other things... I know Im never gonna surf 5 foot greenbush now, never mind 10... but geez I love a good 4-6 foot day on the point, when the old boy can weave his way through all the floundering adult learners ...and they look at me like I looked at those beach kid groms...

dunno how long i can keep this up though...

but still loving the short board, so figure I've got a few years of diminishing returns on the mid length and mals...

it's a mental game, and another day wiggling on waves rather than curating a beer belly is a good day to me

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:54am

Yeah still riding the 6'0 and 6'9" step up, not sure how long it will last, but determined to keep it going for as long as possible. The 9'3" gets pulled out when it's 2' and under, and I'm finding that heaps of fun - might be the beginning of the end :)) not.

jazzman's picture
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jazzman Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 12:14pm

The 9'3" is the beginning of the beginning.

Piers0's picture
Piers0's picture
Piers0 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:58am

Yep same mate. 50 this year and found gravity enduro MTB. Its great for when the waves are bad or in shark season. You can shred trails in the morning the have a swim on the way home. Yes the injury's are a bit of a set back, but get some insurance and you can snap your collar bone in three places have it pinned back together and back on the bike in 10 weeks.
Its not as good as a surf on a good day, but it beats the shit out grovelling in winter worrying about shadows.

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Trentslatterphoto Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:48pm

few wave enhancers pre surf always keep the spark alight

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33rd parallel Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:52pm

I'm 63 and find sessions are shorter. Seem to be forever getting over injuries. But still nothing like paddling out at sunrise.
I took up sailing in my 40's (other peoples boats) and its a great supplement to surfing - all the figuring out of wind, tide and rhythm. Twilight racing just the thing as the sea breeze picks up surfs crap but the sailing great. Once you get the knack step up to spinnaker and offshore racing and deliveries. It's not had to get on a boat even without experience.
I've done deliveries up to the Whitsundays amongst the whales, raced with guys who are the equivalent of the hard crew who only surf when its over 10 foot.
Like surfing it can be competitive, relaxed and easy, shitty as weather changes or just sublime when it all comes together. I don't envisage giving up surfing but sailing is taking up more of my active time.

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Chipper's picture
Chipper Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:26am

at 50 plus, working in Melbourne, i just love the water so swim n the ocean when surfing time is limited... i mostly only surf now in good conditions, i get a few 4-6 waves and i am happy. then i press repeat, even if its a month or 3 between surfs... Great Article and Thoughts!

jazzman's picture
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jazzman Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:26am

66 and retired, still surf. My last trip to Indo was in 2018, still have vivid memories of my last wave of the trip, at Kuta Reef in the late afternoon, and as I flicked off at the end of the ride my jukung pulled up alongside me. When I returned home I just didn't get the shortboard love after that because of crap waves and less water time. This dimmed my enthusiasm and I began to question my ability; or was I just too old? Longboard only these days, but that is no cop out, as I still surf! One thing I ensure that I do during down time is to keep moving - walking, stretching, weights and floor exercises on most days. Flexibility and mobility keep the muscle memory alive I reckon. Stay salty!

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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:43pm

Great post.

Tim Mitchell's picture
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Tim Mitchell Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:34am

Spent the first half of my life surfing, never gave it up. Just moved inland, get to the coast a couple of times a year, only need a couple of good waves and life is bliss. have'nt had a good barrel for a long time but there's a couple burned into the memory. It would be a bit too crowded if we all surfed as often as we used to,see you in the tube!

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brownie48 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:39am

Great article sheep, well described and factual for most people I know

I surf almost every day and have been playing in the ocean for over 50 years and no matter what has happened it always drags me back in like the healthy drug it is but it is getting harder with injuries and wear and tear. Do yoga every day, core work and stretch to maintain it all as long as I can and I am at an age where no person has ever lived to in my previous generations so every surf is treated like my last

Interesting thoughts recently about if I cant get up on my shortboard at some point what would I do, I hate all mal riders with a passion so that is out, I think boogie board if the back allows it or body surfer if the shoulders allow it would have to be the evolution but it is a question that one day will have to be answered

And when that day comes the real problem is how do you deal with it mentally especially if its the only real joy left in your life (apart from family) and its what you devote all your time thinking about, researching new toys, checking spots and forecasts etc

Do you accept you have had a great run and retire with the memories or does it eat at you and you turn inwards and looking for the highs in other deadlier ways?

Hopefully I and many others here wont have to answer that question but it is an ever present threat looking on the horizon like an stiff onshore wind

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saltyhooves Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:26am

Have enjoyed this story and comments.

Yes what to do when time diminishes form.

A lot of us have said the ocean regenerates our soul, connects us with something beyond earthly pursuits. Our feet dangling in the mystery of the deep. Compelled to immerse in the salty blue. That's where I'm at.

Covid Crowds, self absorbed show ponies, daddy pushers, gbanged princesses, I avert my gaze, albeit a personal challenge to do so and open my veins to the heady high of ocean recharge.

Can't quit. I aim to adapt.

kimbo1's picture
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kimbo1 Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:52am

On the fitness side you should try pulling back on surfing every day and use some form of training like boxing or squad swimming or both . Will tune up your reflexes and coordination . The aerobic sports will keep you on the boards you like .

haggis's picture
haggis's picture
haggis Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 5:52am

What’s wrong with mal riders?

icandig's picture
icandig's picture
icandig Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 9:32am

Mal riding is a bit like Haggis...looks like it might be alright, but then it tastes a little funny.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 9:59am

Or like fat chicks- fun to ride but you wouldn't want your mates to catch you on one.

haggis's picture
haggis's picture
haggis Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 4:26pm

Growing up in Scotland I used to eat haggis heaps. Tasty as.

icandig's picture
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icandig Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 4:49pm

Ha ha...no worries, fair enough. Must be the smell then?

batfink's picture
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batfink Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:48am

Yep, most give up, I’m banking on it. Covid lockdowns has created a thousand new surfers just around here. My thinking is that many won’t stick with it, but some will. While they do the older boomer cohort are getting to the stage where it’s just too much.

The last 3 years of really hard work led to retrenchment. Now I’ve got time on my hands but I’m locked down. Was making good use of my time before but we had a lot of not so good days.

Now, from lockdown, I’m fitter, stronger, but my surfing fitness is poor. Been out for some short surfs but it’s not like the old days. 2 hour standard is now more like 45 minutes.

But I’m hopeful and more determined now and waiting for my chance. Body is otherwise good, just have to get that fitness and confidence back.

It’s a tough sport, you can’t have weeks and months off without it taking you backwards a long way, but there’s still some fire in the belly. On the plus side the two guys I surf with most are 5 years younger and 18 years younger. Surfing with mates in an out of the way spot is just the best. Loonnngggg weekend surf trips a high point. Looking forward to maintaining the short board rage for a while yet.

By the way, started around 30, soon to be 60.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:58am

In 2019, after 25 odd years of chasing waves gypsy style, I ended up more or less full time here on the East coast in a nice little zone. But after surfing in WA and Indo for the preceding decades I soon found myself losing interest in the surf. I’d go down the beach and crew would be frothing, telling me that the day before was like Mundaka or Kirra or G land. I’d always remain quiet and pleasant but behind my sunnies my eyes were just about rolling out of my head.

No, this beachbreak is not like Mundaka or Kirra or G land and it never will be, I’d think. I started getting depressed and stopped surfing consistently. I went weeks without getting wet. Every time I’d go look at the waves and see smiling punters emerging from sun drenched 3 feet windswell I’d reinforce my belief that surfing here was 90 percent dribble and 10 percent excellent. For some reason ran with this vibe. Perhaps a combination of being forced to remain in an area against my own desires ( We started caring full time for someone) and finally having my wings clipped after years of spontaneous swell chasing.

It was easily the worst year of my life. I drank more and got pretty unfit. This compounded the feelings I was experiencing. I felt confined and imprisoned. Out of thin air I contemplated joining the Navy….yep, that idea is probably even more surprising to myself than it is to you.

I got away here and there before making a consecutive few trips to Indo totalling a few moths to rejuvenate the spirit. This allowed me to refocus on the joy of surfing by being around good waves again. I got fit and quit drinking. Then Covid hit and I was forced back to the East coast.

This time was different though. I came into it with low expectations, my eyes wide open to what would unfold and a commitment to make the most of what was on offer. This positive attitude found me surfing all the time and finding the joy in whatever was on offer. The Covid lockdown was a golden age. The surf pumped and continued to pump without anyone around.

I soon realised that the entire time in 2019 when I’d been gazing inwards and being negative that there would’ve been good waves fairly often if I’d chased them locally. The best move was to start appreciating the good waves instead of feeling cheated cause they weren’t great.

Now it’s next level and I listen to the tales from others who live here on the East coast and realise that the waves I consider just pretty good would often be Best Evers at their breaks. Like an able bodied person who gets down because they can’t run 100 metres under ten seconds, it only takes an encounter with a person confined to a wheelchair to get you to stop your whining and get grateful quickly.

Now I’m stoked out of my mind and can’t wait to get out there everyday. Just like Occy in Bunyip Dreaming even Noahs couldn’t scare me off. Surfing is a necessity in my life. Quitting isn’t an option if I want to avoid going down the rabbit hole of depression. It keeps me fit and stoked, makes my Partner’s life better cause I’m not walking around like the kid with a shit filled nappy.

Don’t stop. Never stop. Don’t even think about it.

Halda's picture
Halda's picture
Halda Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:09pm

power to the positive mindset - what a turnaround! - 1984 Orwellian

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:53pm

Great recalibration. The Navy bit doesn't surprise me at all - if they still had battleships I'd be a gunnery officer.

Gonebush's picture
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Gonebush Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:16am

I find that sometimes the best you surfs I have are when the waves look below average.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:51am

I remember Nick Carroll opining on the old real surf forums about guys he knew who were good to really good surfers who just gave it away, and how he couldn’t fathom it.

Young family years are hard to get through. Long work hours especially in your 40s and 50s as you climb the ladder are so difficult too. Now it’s the crowds and the inability to just get away, even for a day trip.

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:52am

Fishing has filled the gap for me, mostly due to family commitments. I can go by myself or with a brother or close mate, it's time away from the routine of work and home, it's in nature and quite rewarding when the family see something on the table more times than not.

With planning and preparation, travel to the spot as well as post-trip clean up it would take up far more hours than a quick trip to the beach for a 1-2 hour surf. I'm trying to even up the surfing/fishing balance more recently but i can see why people quit.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:52am

You do this stuff well - SS and SN both. Thank you.

Still a frother at 58 minus one month, and I surf as much as I can. Cut down my working hours significantly about 10 years ago, and it's been a blessing. Harder to pay for things, but fewer things to pay for.

Recently moved to another region, one with much more frequent quality waves, and more quality surfers. Won't be getting lots of solo surfs, but have already found myself alone a few times in totally rippable waves.

Looking forward to not feeling forced to go out whenever it's surfable, though, taking time to go fishing, hiking, or cycling windy backroads.

Yep, boards are getting bigger, both by choice, necessity and accident. Had a shit year with a few form slumps, gained 3kgs a few times, and lost them again etc. Bought a Chilli Mid Strength to leave in the old town as a do-it-all board, but have ridden it a lot up here, and it's been excellent. As SS once said, "they don't fuck your shred".

Long story short: It's worked for me to keep changing things a bit; to keep surfing on a daily basis; to not be too hard on yourself when you falter.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:00pm

Adjusting the boards as you age is sooooo important.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:14pm

6'10 DS gets more use than the 6'2 Ghost :-)

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:22pm

Gave the DS a run this morning after snapping my treasured tube spear step-up a couple of days ago. Brilliant as always.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:24pm

Nothing like getting back on a favourite board.

(Speaking of treasured tube spear: will never get rid of my 6'6 Bourton Reef Swallow)

Christian Buxton's picture
Christian Buxton's picture
Christian Buxton Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:53am

Nearly 50.

Im happy if some want to give up as it means less people in the line up. But Im still seeing a lot of old fella's in the water so in not experiencing the decline in numbers.

Any idea what % drop off ?

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:54am

Great article FR.

I quit when I was about 20. It wasn't that I wanted to quit, it was because of distance from surf and the fact that I needed to start earning money in a career that I was interested in. Pretty much for the next 20 years I barely surfed at all. It had faded from my everyday thoughts like any habit does over time.

Fortunately about 10 years ago an old mate from way back who lived a lot closer to the ocean than I do was able to convince me to have another crack. It really is like riding a bike. Maybe not a MTB though...

My enthusiasm for surfing has been re-ignited and continues to this day, and I am forever grateful.

phnud's picture
phnud's picture
phnud Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:55am

I'd be happy to quit, but I can't.

Whenever I watch a movie or TV show and the ocean is in the background, I forget the plot and scan the water for possible surf. Remember that woman, who stole millions from people, went missing and her foot washed up down around Mollymook? When the reporter was on the beach, all I was doing was seeing what the surf was like in the background.

I can't quit because it'll always dog me. I'll mind surf every wave I see. I'll continue to check the cams, to watch vids and every time I'm at the beach and there's a nice little runner, I'll wish I had my board.

Yet, the crowds piss me off and I often leave feeling frustrated. I also know that if I'm away somewhere and the surf is pumping, then those shitty, frustrating surfs at my local are my foundation and if I don't do them, then the few good opportunities will also be frustrating.

The lady's not for turning, sure, but also, damned if you, damned if you don't.

mr mick's picture
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mr mick Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:29pm

Exactly what I do, scan the background, missus rolls her eyes says I’m hopeless. 61 next month.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:42pm

That’s funny phnud... you made me realise I do the same thing - checking surf in the background - but didn’t even really realise it till I was reading your post

Roker's picture
Roker's picture
Roker Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:56am

But how many Bruce Browns can there be? There is a built-in trouble with age segregation. Eventually one does reach the horror age of 25, the horror dividing line… Leonard was 18 and Donna was 21 – 21! – god, for a girl in the Pump House gang that is almost the horror line right there…they didn’t say anything, they weren’t angry over anything… they… went a few feet down the sidewalk… and… blam! blam! – these two shots… Donna and Leon thought they had lived the life as far as it would go…

TomWolfe
The Pump House Gang 1968

Oink's picture
Oink's picture
Oink Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:58am

Crowds and the bulge.
Crowds came first - I remember a quote from MR years ago and he said no matter how bad the surf is you feel better afterwards.
I used to agree until the crowds became so bad that I'd come in after a surf more stressed than before I went in.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 11:58am

This one's for you Blowin:

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:11pm

Stu, whilst that all looks fabulous enough and the idea of sharing a ship’s cabin with both a cowboy and a butch biker would probably provide for some unique experiences, I was thinking more along these lines*….

* Minus the declawed gerbil hanging halfway out of me.

seaslug's picture
seaslug's picture
seaslug Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:48pm

It wasn't declawed and fully inserted

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:52pm

Hurts so good!

seaslug's picture
seaslug's picture
seaslug Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:49pm

Armageddon was the tap out safe word, problem was no one could hear the poor little gerbil screaming out at the top of its lungs

oldman's picture
oldman's picture
oldman Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:04pm

63 now.
Stopped surfing from age 35 to 45 to grow a business.
Huge regret in surfing terms - good choice financially.
Now retired and surf as often as i can with a holiday home near my surf beach south of Adelaide.
Fitness declines with age and old injuries (back-neck-hips) that recur more
often.
I ride a mid length with volume to compensate and sometimes think about SUP (and hate myself).
Struggle to get high wave counts these days but love being out there.
That 10 years I sacrificed will haunt my to my grave.
If i had my time over

seaslug's picture
seaslug's picture
seaslug Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:52pm

Did the same maybe around 12 years to pursue my career overseas, feel the same as you.

wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:37pm

i hear you, had a business, did well, bought a bunch of boards to use after i sell up, someone should have told me at 60 you aint the same when your 40, the boards look good on the wall but

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:05pm

When I wasn younger, at uni and unable to live right on the coast, I found myself skiving out of a lecture chasing a fun arvo swell.

I got talking to this middle aged local. He said to me, ‘if you don’t end up living at the coast it’ll be very hard to keep surfing. You’ll get a job, married, kids etc and eventually your go outs will be very few and far between’’.

I always remember this. Not sure his words informed later decisions but sure enough after uni I moved straight to the coast and apart from a some OS travel have lived a coastal lifestyle ever since.

Can definitely see how surfing could be put in the too hard basket as life ticks on.

I keep it real simple. Surf local 99% of the time, when it’s small get the kids out, avoid crowds and every couple of months chase a swell down the coast. Keeps me more than stoked and no doubt will for a long time yet.

juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:20pm

"If you don't like something change it, if you can't change it, deal with it"

Given the above statement, if I couldn't change my situation by getting out of the country, I'd quit for sure. For the following reasons:

When COVID hit, the crowds came even stronger but never really left. They're here to stay! Wahhhhhh you might say. Well, surfing is incredibly fickle relying on tide, swell, swell direction, sand banks, time of day (early surfs on the east coast anyone? Trying to look for the incoming sets whilst seemlingly staring into the blinding sun), wind and a million other variables. Then when they do align, the crowds multiply even more!

Compare this to skating where you rock up early to the skatepark, it's free from kids because they tend to rise after 9am and all you gotta do is do a quick clean of the park from ciggy butts, beer bottles and death pebbles. If you do that, you get a perfect setup everytime! All to yourself! Want to work on a trick? Go nuts! Compare that to me working on my forehand cutback at the moment; I need the right wave, to go the right direction, to be in the spot to catch the wave and in a given session, maybe I get a few attempts. Not to mention all the other things I want to work on with surfing.

A not openly discussed thing is that you need the reps to get better at anything! With surfing, if you're dealing with a sea of humans as well as the ocean, you'll be a forever kook. To this day as a regular footer I still probably feel more comfortable going left due to spending half a year in Peru. When I do a hobby if I feel I'm not progressing, or progressing as I should given the time put in, it gets a bit stale. The fact that sometimes you literally can't surf because there sometimes is no waves, it's hard to stay surf fit as well. I'm no slob and stay at within 1kg of my fighting weight at all times but you'll never be surf fit, even if you can bang out 100 burpees; you gotta surf to be surf fit. ​Not to mention the injuries, some can be very serious, like losing an eye or you know, getting maimed by a shark.

I'm going to keep going until I can't but only because I'm moving away from Australia ASAP. Surfing on the GC these days isn't a kumbaya fun time, it's usually war with everyone that's the hero of their own movie and there's no shortages of heroes here. Hopefully in a couple of years, you'll find me in the Americas, getting shacked on the reg or surfing leg burning points with consistent offshores and consistent long period swell. Don't look for videos, I'm not going to take them and even if I did, I don't have social media.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:24pm

“ Surfing on the GC these days isn't a kumbaya fun time, it's usually war with everyone that's the hero of their own movie and there's no shortages of heroes here.”

Great line.

seaslug's picture
seaslug's picture
seaslug Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:55pm

Yes great line, I think I might have to use that next time I'm out main break

c735293's picture
c735293's picture
c735293 Saturday, 18 Sep 2021 at 6:16pm

I feel your pain. I gave up because of Covid Crowds in Vic. But I can imagine my crowds are nothing compared to SE QLD.

zephatalien's picture
zephatalien's picture
zephatalien Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:26pm

The only surf I've had in the past 2 years is a novelty splash, mid-winter boardy session during the biggest swell of the year.. A little 3-4 foot thing that was handling the 11m pump.

I had other breaks since first paddled 28 years ago, mainly when I was working in the North West, but this is by far the biggest stretch. Can't really explain it. A combination of moving back to the shit coast, becoming a father, my shaper passing away and a new passion of drone racing. Over a dozen boards collecting dust.

When my boy gets a bit older i'll sell a few, get a softie and ride again, but the ball of pain in my gut I used to get when the offshore was blowing and for whatever reason I couldn't go to the beach is completely gone. ¯\_㋡_/¯

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sypkan Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:23pm

"....but the ball of pain in my gut I used to get when the offshore was blowing and for whatever reason I couldn't go to the beach is completely gone. ¯\_㋡_/¯"

that's not necessarily a bad thing...

that pain hurts... and there's a certain relief when you've been away long enough not to feel it...

but I like the healthy mind and body I get when surfing regularly

and I miss the whole lifestyle thingy, I love the water, the nature, the chase, the planning, anticipation, weather reading, reading the crowds and posers... and the scoring, the skunking, the surprising...

Lalic's picture
Lalic's picture
Lalic Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:29pm

I'm 35. Tore quad tendon at patella (not fully) July 2020 (at 34). After 10 months rehab I had two months back in the water this year, before re-tearing again in July. 8 weeks into rehab again, seeing a psych (yep, mental health since last year august has taken a massive blow). And all the while I'm trying to convince myself to quit. But something inside me is trying to find any light, to believe I can rehab this thing. Tried bodyboarding. It doesn't quite do it.

But looking back, in that two months.. bumped into so many 'mates' (just locals at the breaks I surf who i chat to). Many thought I moved away. Funny how much joy you get just being out there and bumping jnto people you only ever communicate with in the water.

Shout out to Craig- you caught me on one of those surfs off the pipe.

Ps I've spent literally thousands on medical field. All to get me back in the water. Whatever it takes. Anybody know a knee specialist who might be able to give me a consult pro bono (lost my job from covid lockdowns doesn't help!!)..

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:05pm

Good luck Lalic, you can heal it. While I can't recommend a knee specialist, I did pop a patella at about the same age trying to keep up with the kids 180ing snowboards - learned I wasn't one of them. I know the pain, sort of, and yep it took time and I probably should have seen a specialist. Felt like going backwards at times too, but ultimately came good. Hope you heal up.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:38pm

Aghh man, so sorry to hear about the new knee injury, was wondering where you've been, or if you've been scoring back up home. Don't quit, there are many more fun sessions and rip bowls to be lapped! All the best R!

tlearyus's picture
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tlearyus Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:33pm

I am 56 and have been surfing for over 30 years but during the last 3-5 years have been really struggling to get many waves. partly due to increased crowds, partly age and partly loss of confidence. 4 years ago I went to the Maldives for 10 days and caught just one wave.

It was heartbreaking and expensive!

I usually surf at least 3-4 times a week but 9/10 times I surf i never catch a single proper wave. I have tried different boards, improved my fitness, watched countless training videos, and have even been to a shrink but nothing has changed the result. Many, many times I have broken down and cried, not able to understand how and why I can't get my fair share of waves. I see much older surfers in the 70's catching waves in front of me every day, young kids under 10, and even absolute beginners.

I am surf fit and a strong paddler, and usually can surf in waves 3ft-6ft at my local point break, or down the beach on larger, faster waves. But there is always someone deeper on the inside, or I just can't seem to position myself in the right spot, or I stuff up the pop-up, or I make the drop and someone is in front of me so I have to bail. The result is I never get any proper waves, but then once a while, sometimes weeks or even months apart I will get a cracker and it keeps me going. Then the cycle repeats.

But every day I go back out and try again, hoping that my luck might change.

jayet-010's picture
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jayet-010 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:28pm

Have a look at waveki. The way Brad explains the take-off (not a pop-up!) was a game changer for me. To get on your board with you're feet in the right position makes all the difference.

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:52pm

Thanks mate, will do.

Ray Shirlaw's picture
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Ray Shirlaw Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:39pm

Stay with it mate. Think WAY outside the box with your choice of surfcraft. Make every session a social event if its crowded,not just a wave catching mission.

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:43am

Thanks Ray, I do tend to be too focused on catching waves and tend not to talk to others as I am worried I will miss out on waves. I’ll give it a try next time and try to relax more.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 9:11pm

tlearyus, Try this.

Next three surfs take your fastest paddling board (highest volume). Find a spot on the beachbreaks with no-one near you. You need to avoid others so you focus on the waves and stop the tendency to give way to the better surfers. Also, so as to not worry about being seen to waste waves if you fall off or don't quite catch a wave.

It may be a bank or peelers if you are lucky but from the sound of it you might have to find some closeouts (softer closeouts - not a heavy shorebreak) to escape the crowd.

Then set a goal to catch 10 waves no matter what in each session. Paddle hard and make sure you are on the wave before you try to stand fast once your board is clearly moving under wave power. Then just see what happens. If you wipeout on all 10 waves it does not matter. Just make sure you are not falling off the back of the waves in your wipeouts. You have to be taking the drop. See every wipeout as a victory.

At the end of that you will have 30 take offs and who knows maybe a ride or two. You will have broken the back of the "no wave" hoodoo and can start to think about face rides and even the pointbreak!

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:42am

Good advice Frog, thanks mate I’ll give it a try and see how I go. Interestingly the last decent wave I caught 6 weeks ago was when I was surfing by myself down the beach.

frog's picture
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frog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:19am

From the sound of it you can paddle well enough. Providing you can get to your feet with reasonable speed there is an answer. You will fix this and deserve to after your struggles.

Another thing that might help is to have someone video you out in the line up as you try to catch waves. Your mistakes will become clear as day and seen through your own eyes, you may fix them more easily.

One other method is to go out on small days and catch small peelers lying down. Take the pop up out of the equation. Total focus is just on catching the wave and riding along the face or even whitewater if that is all there is. Then introduce the pop up once you are half way along the ride in a stable trim.

These ideas are just outside the standard "how to" advice as that has not worked so far.

By the way, if your local pointbreak is Burleigh Heads or somewhere similar you may have problem. I have had sessions there even in my younger days when I struggled to catch a wave (experienced crowd plus sucky take off). Some spots are just tough and need to be recognised as such. I have had some great waves at Burleigh but wasted some good swells there )low wave count) when I should have picked a different point.

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:22am

Frog I have wanted someone to video me for ages, especially to see my pop up and paddle in. Once I am up on my feet I am fine and can surf as well as most intermediate surfers. It’s just most days I don’t ever get a chance to commit to the pop up as there is always someone else already inside me. Scott’s Head is my local and like many places it has become really overcrowded sadly.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:39am

Prop your cell phone up against a piece of driftwood and film your entire session. I've never done it, but a guy I see at the beach often always does.

Good luck!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:49am

If you can't find anyone to film you then consider buying a Solo Shot. Just set up a camera on a tripod, keep it unlocked (so it can pan and tilt), and then strap the tracking key around your arm. The camera will follow you around the lineup.

Fairly expensive when new, but I imagine it's the kinda thing you'd find second hand on eBay.

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:59am

Thanks heaps Stu, I am going to pay someone to do properly for me and ask them to use a drone as well. After spending thousands on boards and surf trips it's going to be worth a few hundred bucks.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:54am

Okay, I understand better now. Your problem is much simpler than if you had physical issues (bad hip, bad back poor balance etc.). Crowds are the main issue combined with your lack of assertiveness in the water.

You are like I was at Burleigh on some pumping days. I would head out at dawn and get a few, then when the crowd grew, I was not confident to paddle right inside to do the late take off and assert my place. This was partly the tricky take off but also getting caught inside was such a drama - potential to wash onto the nasty rocks in front of the huge crowds to be their entertainment, then the whole walk round, jump off, punch through the sets etc.

Anyway, the other surfers just paddled inside me every time. There was zero generosity where someone who had just had a great wave would give me one instead of paddling straight inside me. I gave off a vibe of hesitancy that was just exploited 99% of the time.

Solutions? Crowd avoidance is your number one thing to do. At the point, be super early or surf in onshore or cross shore conditions when crowds are low and the frothers are not frothing. Also stay away from the outside prime takeoff that is the focal point of the crowds. Sit down the line or even right in near the shorebreak and go for the wide ones or the in betweeners or the ones after the weird section that the hotties can't get past.

Then, get in the habit of when you go for one do so with total focus, go hard so anyone even close to you just knows you are going to catch it - they will give way if the sense it.

Other than that focus on the beach breaks.

I can get waves in crowds but tend to give up easily. I avoid them as much as I can. I am the one down the beach on an empty bank, out very early, or in a funny little gap in the crowd midway down the point. My major decision in every surf I plan is crowd minimisation - timing, spot choice....

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:07am

Really appreciate your help and advice Frog and I went down the beach this morning and found a bank that was working and glassy at 3-4ft with just two other locals on it. I got a decent wave within two minutes of paddling out, and then 10m later got another steep wave that i hotdogged just in front of the shoulder/barrel but i didn't get to my feet but i made it all way. So still a huge improvement.

Then more people came out and I never caught another wave so I think you have hit the nail on the head. I seem to be seriously affected when surfing with lots of others around me, and always worried I am going to drop in, or hit someone etc and I get out of position easily and end up sitting in the wrong spot. I also noticed how i started feeling when i stopped getting waves and i began to feel totally depressed again. So am going to take your advice and try to find spots to surf by myself or just one other person.

frog's picture
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frog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:38pm

Good stuff.

I have a crowd aversion but can get my share in random beachbreaks or a longer point with sections. But you will almost never see me at the top of a point break with the pack.

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frog's picture
frog Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:14am

Another thing to watch is how much you are just sitting out there passively or sitting too wide and so being slightly out of position and giving the inside to other surfers too often. If you hunt you will find. Stay busy. Stay close to the breaking waves. Try to catch a lot of waves. Paddle hard.

If the bank becomes crowded, don't hang around, immediately move to a lesser bank down the beach a bit, find the peelers in amongst the semi closeouts where no one else is or maybe you even find better waves just 50 metres from the sheep.

View this as fun but also training and fitness that will let you get waves at the point again soon enough.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:08am

There’s zero reason to surf with crowds if you live at Scott’s Head.

tlearyus's picture
tlearyus's picture
tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:14am

The beach breaks have had no banks all winter and little beach hasn't been working either, so the point has been the best place to surf by a mile but it's been crowded. But yeah am going to take Frog's advice and try to surf by myself more often, even if the waves aren't as good.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:30am

Good luck. Hope you get a few. Maybe try smashing multiple shots of coffee before hitting the point and get the full teeth grinding, vein popping hyper paddling thing happening?

“ Pick my pocket, steal my car
Burgle my house, take my guitar
Ring the police on the emergency line
Drive to the station get a parking fine
Ring my lawyer, "hey what should I do?"
"Do it to them before they do it to you"
Yes it's true
That's what he said to do”

- “ O’ Salvation “ ….The Celibate Rifles

tlearyus's picture
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tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:30am

LOL thanks mate, might give it a try if all else fails. Or try what George Costanza once did and do the complete opposite of what i would normally do!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:31am

You’ve got to get some hand back.

tlearyus's picture
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tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:32am

Exactly.

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:40am

The Celibate Rifles! Saw em' live a cupla times last century.....awesome band (RIP Damo)

That song 'O Salvation' is on an old Rip Curl vid from the early 90's called 'Rubber Soul' which I still have.

'kids with machine guns selling crack
I've never seen a hearse with a luggage rack'

Classic!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:49am

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 5:57pm

That was filmed in '89 or '90, and I was at Angourie the day in the movie. Cyclone Aivu. 4-6ft with bigger bombs and the most ridiculously good waves and surfing I'd ever seen. I think they'd been filming All Down the Line (a quiky movie?) the day before. RCJ's tube riding was something else. One of those days your surfing hits the next level cos you can see what's possible. Not really that busy, and positively empty by today's standards. We surfed until we couldn't move from dawn to mid-arvo. And to top it off that night we saw Neil Young live at Coffs.

eastcoastbuoy's picture
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eastcoastbuoy Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021 at 4:50pm

ditto ditto Ringmaster - Heaven on a Stick - Manly Fishos opp Harris Farm. Damo was a legend!

Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 8:21am

New Gath with waterproof ear pod's and The Rifles on repeat at full tilt, if that doesn't get you frothing on the paddle out? at least it'll block the tinnitus.

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:34pm

I think the downward spiral starts the day you realise you can't cut the heavy stuff anymore. After copping a life altering pummelling a few years back I realised my body will one day let me down for good and the adrenaline sessions should probably end. It just takes a huge part out of the equation and leaves you feeling a bit dissatisfied, when you do go out on a big day, and are more nervous than frothing.

Lottolonglong's picture
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Lottolonglong Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:59pm

Spot on Gary
I'm 42 and that happened to me 3 years ago,I still have a dig though when it starts getting serious but nervous takes over froth

etarip's picture
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etarip Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 10:04am

I surf smarter in those heavier situations now. I’ll take longer to watch the sets, let a few more slide through so I reduce the chance of getting rinsed on a wave that wasn’t makeable anyway. And I take way less digs at the first or second wave of the set when it’s big. I find my worst floggings are usually from getting caught inside the zone than on waves.
Having kids and having less water fitness needs to be balanced by a better risk management plan!

Nathan Turner's picture
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Nathan Turner Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:43pm

I've hit the kids/age/injury/time poor scenario. Still check the surf report everyday!

blackers's picture
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blackers Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:45pm

Great article Steve, and clearly pertinent given the number of responses already.
With the kids being old enough to do their own thing, the last 10 years has seen my interest and stoke return to what it was when I was younger, possibly more so. Trying different types of boards has kept me interested as age has seen fitness and skill levels plateau, and in the past 2 or so years, start to decline.
I am currently out of the water given our lockdown conditions here in Vic. These interruptions, last year and this year, have made getting back more and more difficult. Each lockdown brings with it the fear that I will take another step backwards. Still, I am hanging out to get back and doing whatever shit I can to keep fit enough to at least give it a crack. Cant imagine giving up (yet) but I guess I can see a future when it just will not be possible anymore. Makes me sad.

Sas's picture
Sas's picture
Sas Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:53pm

I have a young family, a full time job and am nudging 40 so am right in the zone of having to work hard for surfs. But I think having to work hard to get smaller windows has made me enjoy it even more. I'd be fucked without being able to get a few, mostly shitty waves. Having said that, I've quit pretty much everything else that's not related to being a parent or work, or having a surf. But I have seen so many mates give up and then drinking becomes their hobby. I'd way prefer to surf. It takes effort, but is so much more rewarding.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:53pm

I totally understand the many reasons why people quit (early, middle or late in life) and we should all be deeply thankful they do. Crowds would be unbearable everyday otherwise. The more quitting the better.

Leave it to the connoisseurs who really value it.

GM's picture
GM's picture
GM Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 12:58pm

Quote from Bob Brown, 77 years young, to me, 63 years old and waning ...
" Foam is your friend sonny"

Chopsumo's picture
Chopsumo's picture
Chopsumo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:01pm

Good read so true. I'm not the greatest surfer and I've never really set performance based goals surfing except the 1 goal I've set is to still catching waves in my 80s still got a good 30years to go bring it on

radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:03pm

"the best surfer is the one with the biggest smile" (whomever owns that quote is a good one)

I find that shit waves make me depressed; partly because of all the good ones in my memory.

About 10 years ago (when I turned 50) I re-purposed my surfing into swimming training and other prep (yoga, exercise physiology) for when the waves are good. Planning and preping for trips away, to less crowded and more dynamic wave cut platforms. Fantaising about new boards for the trips etc - all adds to these internal perspectives.

When the waves are good, I try and get a few without any other humans paddling near me. If there are unavoidably lots of humans, sometimes I"ll yell out things like "that girl hasn't got many waves - I've given her one - who else is going to give her one?" or "I dont mind if you keep paddling inside of me - so long as you make the wave?" (mostly people look away..probs think I'm an old nutter..but the way I see it I'm out there passing on knowledge that "sharing is caring, surfings not like AFL or any other land-locked activity - if you try a little bit harder you can make it that way for all of us today too".

If you stay trapped in surfing as an ego pursuit; then the inevitable decay of your body and consequently your performance will drive you to quit. You've got to find a lateral way to progress.

The above are strategies that keep me interested and in love with surfing; now and forever.

Net, net give a wave away to a less talented surfer today - it feels good.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:11pm

Ive never quit as such but my mindset is now different, as a grommet surfing was everything and i had to surf all the time as much as i could, now i dont mind having breaks from surfing weeks even months mostly over winter as hate the cold, im also a lot more fussy about the quality of waves i surf and how many guys are surfing.

All the guys i grew up surfing with, all the ones that were really into it, 90% of them still surf and most still surf a lot pretty much all my good friends as a grommet still surf, the ones that use to hang out with us but it was more for the partying etc, pretty much all of them dont surf anymore, but they never really had the bug, it was more a scene for them.

Anyway i wish more surfers would quit.

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:14pm

57 now started at 17. Grew up in Western NSW. It's not just crowds that frustrate me but the surf where I live just isn't as good as even 5 years ago. 20 or so in a spot with only a few set waves you have to be lucky, then throw in the angry ants (usually guys with no hair). To get my 10 waves I try to every surf takes longer these days.
Have a 18 year old daughter that is surf mad now so go out alot with her where I probably wouldn't by myself. Can surf everyday as I have worked for myself for 30 years, but getting a bit fussy, has to be 3ft and offshore or I don't bother.
Have always been fit used to do gym/triathlons as well as surf in my younger days, but now just surf and walk the dog 4-6k's most days.
Will keep going till I can't.
Having someone taken by a shark nearby recently doesn't help. Went for a paddle yesterday and felt very uneasy.

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 8:42pm

" then throw in the angry ants (usually guys with no hair)"

lol you know what, i always noticed that guys with shaved heads are real dicks in the water!

icandig's picture
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icandig Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:19pm

I've been extremely lucky in my surfing life to have friends whom I've known since my teen years that I continue to surf and socialise with. There's always been a friendly rivalry between us and usually once a year, we take a long weekend trip to get on the beers and talk shit. I remember when we were younger we'd rock up to Winki and watch this old bloke on the thickest Strapper thruster take off from uppers, pop re-entries and make sections all the way to the valley. We'd watch him and go "that'll be us one day." Well, now it is. I don't surf as much as I used to, but still keen. Still interested. I know he's not with us anymore, I don't even know how old he was when he stopped surfing. He never even really knew me, but I know he surfed until he physically couldn't anymore. I wish I had a chance to tell him how he motivated our crew to keep surfing. Good on ya Jungle Jim - hope there are endless walls up there for you to cruise around on.

a-7's picture
a-7's picture
a-7 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:26pm

So being an sa surfer of 30years iv had the pleasure of extremely uncrowded world class waves. Having smashed out god only knows how many millions of kms in the relentless chase of conditions for the particular brakes I can truly say iv been blessed over the years. The heavy locals and wild life have over the years kept chaos out of the line ups meaning even the average punter who made the effort and showed respect got a shot at getting some truely life changing waves. However!! The uprise of surfing popularity , media, and of course my generation introducing our young to the sport has resulted In both ability level increase and crowds. This was always going to happen as I knew in my heart. What I wasn’t prepared for the the rise of the selfish arss hole. You know the one guy that paddles out into a friendly line up of guys taking fair turns at waves depending on positioning wave count ect .now this guy or girl can surf surf slightly or more above the level of the average punter but this isn’t the problem. The problem is they are so fuelled by ego , the look at me I rip factor they believe they are entitled to as many waves as they seam fit to take just because they can. This turns what’s supposed to be a fun rewarding brake from every day bull shit into a total infuriating shit fight as the friendly crowd no go’s into fend for your self mode without even thinking about it. Surf =ruined. This used to be a occasional problem but now seams to be the regular thing . I used to surf to clear the mind to step out of the daily grind of selfish arss holes on the road at the shops at work. When they flooded the water it was the end for me after 30 years. Don’t get me wrong I still think about it every day but getting frustrated and angry because of others selfish behaviour is not why I surfed.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:28pm

Times change, you're lucky you don't live on the Gold Coast... One way to change that kind of disrespectful behaviour is to talk with them (young men??) about it. You might find that its an unconscious behaviour and they don't even realise -they're just young and full of testosterone, and this is their battle ground in lieu of a real one. Humans have a long history of tribal and 'civilised' warfare, maybe this is their arena for testing skill and reflexes, flaunting the line of danger, keep at prime fitness in case they need to defend the tribe?? Think about it historically, how often and how many young men have gone into battle over the millennia, why should we expect them to behave differently? Just talk to 'em, make friends, enjoy the show.. maybe remind them that aggressive behaviour can attract sharkies??

Ed Sloane's picture
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Ed Sloane Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:28pm

I basically quit to photograph surfing professionally. I'm back though, thanks spicy cough.

robert.budd's picture
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robert.budd Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 1:50pm

So why quite. I am 68 and still like to get out in the waves. so why would people quite?
1. Life takes over your time, and when you do get back to it you aint surfing as well as you used to or imagined you did.
2. Putting on too much weight. sucks getting old
3. not a surf fit as you used to be
4. illness, as Lennard Cohen once said "Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey,
I ache in the places where I used to play"

Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:03pm

surf or die

Mcface's picture
Mcface's picture
Mcface Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:03pm

Nice one FR. A lot of great comments, clearly there is a lot of joy and frustration in the surfing lifestyle. One thing I've noted for devoted surfers of all abilities, is that the ocean always finds a way to humble you. As a surfer who started during adulthood I've committed to the cause and am very slowly working my way up the pecking order for the joy of surfing good waves.

Just yesterday though I had one such humbling experience at the crowded f-grade beach which I'm stuck with in my 5km radius (luckier than some I suppose). Came in feeling like I was back at square one with my progress, amateur hour. Looking forward to the lockdown ending and finding a remote stretch of coast to find some solitude and feel the freedom of the ocean once again, and will use this thread as a reminder that the ocean brings us all back down to Earth every now and then.

garry.thomas's picture
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garry.thomas Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:06pm

Better to have loved and ........... It sounds like we all at least have that.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:11pm

I'm loving the comments as much as I enjoyed the article.

I'm almost 54, surfed since my early teens and have been in love with the ocean forever- be it surfing, fishing, sailing, beachcombing whatever. I've never really had a break from surfing but the last few years have been a struggle. I used to be a pretty decent surfer and could always get around a lineup. Fitness, work etc. have taken its toll and for a time I was getting frustrated, really frustrated- missing waves, blowing takeoffs. I think it's been mentioned above but I think to continue surfing into your twilight years, you have to remove the ego and lower your expectations. You have to adjust your equipment too. My shortboarding days sadly are gone. I'm riding a crappy funboard which I refer to as my midlength twin i.e I just removed the centre fin. I'm just loving catching waves and getting my glide on again. I have other interests too especially snowboarding but that's a seasonal thing and I love trekking. I try and climb at least one new mountain every year. Try and exercise every day, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and I walk the dog morning and evening. Surf as often as I can.

Anyway, my two cents, just hope I can keep going for as long as possible.

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Goofy4 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:26pm

64 years of age, having first stood on a board at 9.....there's a simple permutation that is an ongoing reference point for me - the muscle mass and strength diminishes as weight sits on the body far too easily...less strength to get more weight up and into the right possie...there's a lifestyle choice to be made and its not always easy, especially when the family's body type is 'stocky'. It's a significant commitment to keep surfing at a reasonable level.....Have forsaken the better, often crowded waves for hunting increasingly remote surf - a new challenge complete with surprises and let downs......I'll surf a mat before i even think about giving up.

sunhil's picture
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sunhil Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:38pm

Do it while it's fun and when it's not, do it anyway:-)

Ash's picture
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Ash Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 2:59pm

Good on ya FR, finally someone has put it on the table. I've been at it since '75 and am still loving it. I miss my old surfing mates, but there's heaps of replacements any day of the week, Sometimes I spend more time talking in the carparks than out in the water and I realised years ago that the enjoyment of surfing is a lot to do with interacting with both people and the ocean, not to mention being at the beach whether at home or somebody else's home beach.
Giving up crosses the mind occasionally but I enjoy sitting in the line up catching waves and in deep thought about whatever is bugging me, only to tell myself to focus on the job, and I always feel better for going out. That's hard to beat.
The mid length thing that Stu mentioned has been dogging me as well, I look at it and sigh some times thinking, is this it? But it's getting me 3 times the waves in a place that can be hard to catch waves on a shorty, and that's got to be a good thing ( for me ) and it's opened up another type of surfing to keep me interested and to try and surf it right, which is not like a short board.
All I gotta do now is retire and spend more time at the beach.

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Mitchrusscoop Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:04pm

In the past year I’ve broken my leg, had my first baby, renovating a 70s asbestos house and started upskilling at work. (This sounds very egotistical but it’s the honest truth). The covid crowds are hectic as well. Surfing has been hard at times and the waves I usually want to surf are put back. However I ain’t quitting. Ever

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gggiiibbbo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:04pm

Like Stunet, I have turned to two wheels, the bush and like-minded mates. As I mentioned a week or so back, Covid crowds at my local are off chops, so when we are allowed, my surfing proxy is my 2-stroke enduro bike. It keeps you as fit as surfing if you ride tech terrain, it’s always offshore, never crowded, the tide’s always right and the swell’s always from the right direction.
I just turned 53 and surfed a big wave spot 100m from my house for the first time yesterday - only one out - and am hanging for a mate’s 50th trip to the Telos in 2023 - so the fire isn’t out yet and I doubt I’ll ever stop loving and participating in surfing.
“Been surfing much, Matt?” “Nah, only when it’s necessary..”. Big Wednesday. Sums it up for me.

sbsb's picture
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sbsb Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:09pm

Great stories, would also add that having a partner who loves the beach makes a big difference. I push her into a few on the boogie board in the shorey and then head out the back to get a few but that's all a bit of a bonus as I'm more stoked by the waves she gets - my expectations for quality waves and my own performance have dropped significantly but I feel in less danger of stopping than I did 10 years ago so I think that's a better direction. Every moment in the ocean is a gift.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:16pm

Surely the question is: what are similarities of surfers who don't quit?
By answering that, maybe we'll get closer to the truth of what being a surfer and surfing really is...

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:00pm

Passion. True immersion. Love of the natural world. Having surfing very high on the personal value list. Not being defined or obsessed with ‘work’. Health.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:25pm

Who said Surfing a Midlength has to be just Cruisy Flow...Surf it like your Shorty - Man Up give it all you got put it on Rail !

https://www.mulliganbrother.com/single-post/2019/11/28/207-inspirational...

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:50pm

Couldn't agree more.
7'2" Mini Mal and it flies!!

10382357-454381561331045-1421166437510841756-o

maddogmorley's picture
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maddogmorley Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:19pm

Is that Pinnacles garyg?

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:28pm

Burgerworld?

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:39am

Yip - Burgerworld!!

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:20pm

Agree, how much rail can you bury?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:19pm

7'6 ...As much as you want

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 6:07pm

Yep, +1.

Sorry Stu - there's so much more to it than that. It's a different kind of way to harness the juice and a different take on "performance", different subtleties to appreciate.

Blue Blue Room's picture
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Blue Blue Room Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:25pm

Thanks for the article FR, that was beautifully written. This is close to home for a lot of us I'm certain. Living on the coast can help, but from my own experience I got fussy, bored with the waves on offer & questioned what was I doing there. Was I getting too old, I said to myself maybe yes I am. Am I irresponsible by living this sort of lifestyle, I think so, no love here anymore. I moved back to the city to reinvent myself & basically being a city boy I probably couldn't cut the mustard down the coast. The show down the coast was over for me & surfing was something I used to do. It took about five years for me to get back in the water. A harsh lesson ensued, this ain't no bike to hop back on, I got stuck in a rip on my way to Tasmania at a rapid rate. Arms were spaghetti & asked another surfer in the rip if he would paddle with me as I was out of gas, he kindly obliged. (I was 30)
I felt done & dusted after that event, this was watershed moment #1.
I recalled the archives of what swimming had achieved for me in the repatriation of a broken leg some years before. Since then I haven't stopped swimming apart having a couple of work accidents, where both shoulders were done. While still healing a swimmer from the pool asked me when I was returning? He said when you do I'll give you a few lessons. I said what for I know how to swim!
"Sorry what you're doing is not swimming, keep doing that & you'll be back on the surgeon's table!" Watershed moment #2. Swimmers with bad technique are candidates for shoulder problems. If you like swimming read up on total immersion swimming, it's all about form in the water. I takes a long time to develop proper stroke form in the water, but once you do swimming becomes relaxing & enjoyable.
Being a tradie, up & down ladders with tools also has its rewards. Being hunched all over a keyboard & stagnant, you're not opening your chest. After writing this my upper back/neck is already cramped up. ay
If anyone saw Compass on ABC last Sunday, that was worth watching!
His name was Dexter, lived well past 111. He spoke about his yoga & breathing,
Surfing gives us reason, I'm now in for the long haul, maybe not that long!

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:26pm

Safe to say you hit a nerve here, Steve - meaning this is something we've obviously all been thinking about.

Great to see so many good and interesting responses.

richard187's picture
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richard187 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:30pm

Surfing waves that are not world class no longer interest me, will only paddle out if perfect waves. The beginning of the end?

maddogmorley's picture
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maddogmorley Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:38pm

Yep ur cooked I reckon. When it is finally perfect everyone will be out there, you will have no fitness and you won't get many waves anyway. May as well just call it now and be done with it

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 3:46pm

Fairly recent pic from a sequence of a 72 year old guy called Larry at G-Land for any of the veterans that need inspiration



Full sequence here https://www.facebook.com/groups/674651796547906/posts/789830361696715/

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:01pm

He’s the guy I was talking about in my post earlier. Inspiring!

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:19pm

This guy is my inspiration. I've posted this before, but too many times ain't enough!

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:23pm

Epic!

Fishlegs's picture
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Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 8:36am

When I grow up I wanna be just like him (I'm 57).

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kaybeegee Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:00pm

I went from surifng daily or near enough for 20 years, to maybe surfing every couple of months over the last 2 years. Full on addict, to non-plussed.

Job, child, surfing friends kind of disappeared or got busy, got in a negative headspace with the crowds.

Now I look at surfing as extremely self indulgent, somewhat adolescent, and entirely too wasteful for someone milking every last minute out of the day.

That having been said, it has opened doorways to other interests. I push myself to lift weights and run, and have found them to be oddly addictive and challenging. Yet they don't seem to take up hours and hours, and where surfing would leave me braindead and looking for carbs and a lie down, they seem to give me more energy.

I always tell myself I'll get back into it once the boy is older and the job is more settled, but I also wonder if I'm ready to give it away and move on and grow in other ways,

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memlasurf Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:38pm

Hang in there. I didn't surf much for the best part of 8 years, in fact I didn't surf at all for 5 with the kiddies, work, house reno, schools you name it. Just swam laps twice a week. Now at 62 surf as much as possible: kids are grown up, houses all settled, and work is established. Made the shift full time to beach house due to Covid (made it legit to work from home) and now surf whenever it is on. I brain washed my son now he pushes me and I surf with him and his mates as all my mates play golf which I just cannot get my head around.

OHV500's picture
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OHV500 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:09pm

Totally get that - Golf !!! WTF :)))

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:47am

Hope your giving that bike a run even if you have to do 5km laps of the burb.

kaybeegee's picture
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kaybeegee Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:12pm

5 years- wow, I think i'm probably staring down that barrel. Will have to transition into some swim training. Sounds like things have turned out well Memla, re covid. And yeah, I'll be giving golf a miss.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:05pm

Also Harry Nightingale 71 yrs Lover of G-Land

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lindo Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:14pm

The vicious spiral hey - muscle strength, flexibility and stamina are increasingly challenging to maintain with age, and can be seriously compromised by any number of things, as several crew have noted, from other commitments of work, family ..., to crowding, to injury, to various combinations therein. At 65 and having surfed for more than 50 years (60 if you count surf-o-planes) I still surf occasionally, after more than a year out of the water with back injuries (disks and spondylolisthesis). Having managed to get back into it, I avoid the really solid days and crowded, well-known breaks, and surf longer boards, because you're not surfing if you're not catching waves, and then frustration sets in and that too can be a vicious spiral. Fortunately this area has (had) quite a few lesser known breaks, although the local council and board riders clubs are doing their best to stuff those, putting all known breaks on maps etc. And like most places there are lots more surfers with time on their hands these days, and a new crew on SUPs that are a legitimate menace when they turn up. But the joy of being in the ocean, alone or with one or two friends, doesn't really fade. It's just becoming more challenging to find

vicbloke's picture
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vicbloke Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:34pm

I can relate to a lot of the comments being made. after 37 years of surfing and playing numerous sports over this time the body is finally telling me to slow down. I have injured my shoulder three times this year and can feel the end is near. play some social tennis, fuck up the shoulder. play some social basketball fuck up the back. go running fuck up the knees. I went to order a new board but have been holding off to see what the future holds. my upside is my best surfing mate still froths like he is still 16 and his energy is addictive and generally gets me going. he has laid down plans for a trip to indo in about 12 months so his energy and the promise of warm barrells will hopefully keep me going for another 12 months. always tell the kids no fun getting old when it comes to the body

Panman's picture
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Panman Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:36pm

Nat young is 73 I think and he is always out the point on the biggest day but I guess he’s started from a high base
And I know stu has been plagued by injuries but last time I saw him he was holding his own in solid waves

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:43pm

I don't think I'm far enough along to qualify why I would quit. Still getting lots of delight in the boards, the waves and what I can improve. It's been beautiful sharing the experience with nieces/nephews/children and surfing friends. The yearly (sans: kung flu) catch up trip has been a really good thing to look forward to.

Being forced out for a while through life threatening situation only made that 1st wave that passed walking back out into 1.5ft clear surf more magical. Growing up in terrible conditions leads to an appreciation of all surf and I can attain satisfaction in little waves, with the right equipment.

Spending time around the shaping bays of true craftsmen when young also leads to a depth and appreciation to surfing. Making my own boards leads to an intellectual dimension to the surfing where you keep going back to improve and learn.

I found this has been useful:

https://www.amazon.com.au/Ancient-Secret-Fountain-Youth/dp/0753540053

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:49pm

To all older surfers buy yourself a theragun massage gun
Great for those sore tired and knotted muscles

andy-mac's picture
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andy-mac Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 4:54pm

Great article. 52, still try to surf as much as I can. Lived in Bali for over a decade, so moving back to Sunny Coast made me approach surfing differently. Hard adjustment at first, it's a lot harder to surf grovel than Ulu etc .. mindset has to change which took a few years.
Saying that my local has a good regular crew and I enjoy the paddle now as much for a little conversation as hopefully getting a few.
Hope to keep going if can stay injury free.
Was in Gland a few years back and met Harry Nightingale and Sloth... Frothing more than groms. Inspirational.

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monkeyboy Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:10pm

Diversify. +1 for MTB, Gravel Racing, trail running and long distance swimming (in the ocean of course - swimming by a couple of dozen surfers who are waiting for a 2 ft wave and hanging at the top of the pack makes them look ridiculous in my mind). Keep the stoke, find new places and windows to surf ... the search. I'm over 50 and will never give up, just do it differently...

H2O's picture
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H2O Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 5:34pm

Great topic Steve and like your last article has got a huge response.
I first stood up on surfboard 50 years ago age 18 and have been hooked ever since despite long periods away from the ocean during that time .
Cannot think of any other pastime that gives so much in terms of physical and mental health benefits and stoke when you get it right. Also much hard work both in the practice and keeping the body working. Its a metaphor for life.
I recall Blindboy once posting that he would quit if he couldn't ride a shortboard anymore and was thinking there's so much more to this caper than reflecting on what once was and throwing the towel in, however that's just one of the reasons stated above.
Not for me.

gunther's picture
gunther's picture
gunther Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:01pm

Missed out an all time day round here yesterday due to parenting duties. Work and parenting make lining up the epic sesh difficult. Now i'm happy if i can just get wet regularly, and i'll let the ocean surprise me.

channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:14pm

Similar story to many of the above. Career, family and other commitments have curtailed time in the water however have never given it away.

My lightbulb moments:

Riding one of VelocityJohnno's boards up the coast and gave me some perspective on changing boards as I get older.
Staying fit and exercising during the week, particularly in winter, when I might not get a wave for 2 weeks.
Trying to keep the stoke alive, sometimes one wave in a 15 minute session is all it takes.

And also trying to learn something new to keep it fresh. On the same trip where I rode one of VJ's boards, he taught me a new technique to smooth out my cutback. Simple instructions but a revelation. VJ - Deliver the pizza!

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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:48pm

DELIVER THE PIZZA

wallpaper's picture
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wallpaper Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:21pm

mate - get a dictionary and look up 'paraphrase'. and then look up 'quote'.

and what sort of fuckwit thinks to quote or even paraphrase Thatcher. I'm pretty sure you're old enough to remember what that evil cunt did. maybe not.

I know your remit was to get people off the shark attack story, but seriously.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:52pm

Nothing quite so satisfying as burning an effigy of Thatcher. I quit surfing to do just that, daily. It's how I connect daily with Gaia.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:25pm

hahaha, thought someone would arc up over the Thatcher quote much sooner.
I actually thought I was paraphrasing until I realised it was the direct quote, but seeing as it was not quite in the spirit she intended I decided to stick with paraphrase.

clif's picture
clif's picture
clif Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 6:57pm

Realising I am quite sick. I mean, I keep chasing swells and forecast websites permanently open. I account for 50% of all such website clicks. If there are waves I go surf them. 40 years in and still a kook too, so it's not like I am improving. I have diversified my surfing portfolio though - mats, bodysurfing, shortboards, longboards, midlengths, kites, sea kayaking, and the list goes on. So, it's only getting worth.

Will Ivermectin cure me?

Lukas_Z's picture
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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:20pm

Yeah its a disease. But you could equally spend that amount of time and money in a pub or watching the idiot box. Which one gives you fitness and vitality?

Sheepdog's picture
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Sheepdog Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:11pm

I surf less and less. The main reason is the magic has been wrecked. I was attracted to surfing due to its almost mystical qualities, its anti mainstream position. Now we have coal powered wave pools, mass produced crap from Chinese slaves. Sites like swellnet scientifically dissect every approaching swell- paradox. No mystery. No wonderment. I despise what surfing has become. I used to proudly bring up the fact I'm a surfer to new people I'd meet. I'm embarrassed now to even admit it.
Then of course there's ageing. I can't rip like when I was 30. So it snowballs. I sit out the back on my chinese blank, wearing my chinese made wettie, my chinese leggy, or is it leash now?
Then I twinge a hammy ripping it off the top.
So I go home and watch UFC. Even they have to stop fighting one day.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:09am

If you paddle out on an empty bank on a sunny morning, it is same as it ever was - if you let it be so.

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:31pm

One thing that scares me about the day I stop surfing is that I'll just be another old bloke from that point on.

While I can still get good waves on shortboards, go on surf trips with my mates and deal with a proper flogging in chunky waves I'll never feel like or think I'm old.

Being a dedicated surfer definitely keeps you young and is a real life fountain of youth.

bonza's picture
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bonza Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:41pm

100%!!!!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:44pm

Well said.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:57pm

Yeah I reflect that it actually makes you look younger, with/despite the UV, it's spun out

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juegasiempre Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:07am

It's because some people choose to live longer, with all the suffering, disappointment, aches/pains and challenges that it entails as we age. Surfers aren't the only ones of course, not even close, but we're a good example.

Most people as they age deviate from the heroic path and slip into the comfort of being the coward. It's socially acceptable to do so and way more comfortable but you choose to no longer live longer: You just exist longer.

Think about the 60 year old surfer you may know. Is he fit, healthy and mostly always wearing a smile? Compare that to the 60 year old that's given up on life, fat, on medication and is in the nursing home. That to me is a terrifying prospect and always keeps me aligned.

My Nietzschean 2 Deutschemarks anyway.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:26am

It's important to believe in life before death.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:15am

Spot on about the heroic path.

There was an article called 'The Other Road' long ago in Longboard magazine where a fella named Allen Grasso detailed two consecutive 30 year periods of 'youth' that occurred in his life as a surfer who prioritised being near the waves. Yes, he dealt with injuries and tinnitus etc, but he kept surfing (and became director of a planetarium!) and kept 'young'.

vol 5 #4 p38 August 1997 if anyone has it

r-clay's picture
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r-clay Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:43pm

I have been surfing now for over half of my life and my surfing killer has been discovering freediving and spearfishing. I will bring balance back into the mix eventually, but now all I can think about is spending time under the water not above. Maybe next year, ill invest in a really good wetsuit and new high volume surfboard and rekindle the love. Had a few sessions off my boat while i wait for the tide to come in that have been absolutely awesome.

LaurieP's picture
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LaurieP Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:44pm

Loving the thread.

Been surfing since early teens. Catching the bus then the train to the beach breaks, then trips down south with mates when I had a car. Just love it but always been crap. Always been better at the wind.

Done it all - windsurf, kite surf, goat boating for a while which I was really good at, snowboarding when living overseas, then dropped back to the body board as just easier when family and work commitments made it harder to get out consistently. Crap waves in Perth don't help.

Been on a small SUP for a while now which has been lots of fun. However, noticed last couple of years that I seem to have lost a bit of balance and the SUP stopped being fun. Age, I guess, now 60.

So, currently on a knee board and next step is a soft top 8' mini-mal. Will keep on doing something until I can't, crowds and crap waves notwithstanding.

Oh, seriously thinking about wing foiling this summer but quite a big investment to get started. Can't fault Perth winds.

Just need that ocean in some form, can't live without it.

Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:16pm

Try kiting its a lot cheaper nowadays and plenty of second hand gear. That wind wing thing will clean out your bank balance. $3k just for basic equipment, then you'll always be wanting better foils (some cost $2-$3k), different boards ($2k). Haven't done it but looks boring as.

LaurieP's picture
LaurieP's picture
LaurieP Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:19pm

Yeah, its not cheap, but the equipment holds its value well if it doesn't pan out. Also, you don't need a quiver like kiting as one piece of kit can handle a wide wind range.

Done kiting, foiling is better (apparently) bcos you can trail the kite behind you when on a swell and get that riding a wave feeling. Whereas in kite surfing, the wave and wind are fighting each other somewhat.

I thought it looked boring too but everyone I talk to is fully stoked about, know quite a few who surfed, kited and all sorts that do nothing else now but foil.

Hopefully, will let you know from first hand experience soon ;-).

AKH's picture
AKH's picture
AKH Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 7:57pm

I found since having kids my surf froth has gone up. Before kids it was work, then hit the piss and other things and it took me till Wednesday to recover then do it all again. During that period my surfing took a real dive. Now with a more balance life you just make time for surfing whilst still keeping up with your work commitments, and family life. Now the kids are frothing over 1 to 2ft waves and watching them have fun is awesome. Make time keep a bit of fitness up and hopefully surf for a lot longer.

D-Rex's picture
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D-Rex Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:12pm

Great story fr but how ironic that a story about quitting is written at a time of exponential crowd growth.

benjis babe's picture
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benjis babe Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:13pm

Surf till u die...could never give it up...53 yrs and still frothing. I have half the amount of energy though, and gee its hard to get out sometimes but nothing beats the feeling, nothing comes close......

brainiac's picture
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brainiac Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:22pm

Only a surfer knows the feeling, so cliche but so true. I find my body and fitness levels slipping and I don't chase or surf the waves I used to, however, days like today restore the fire and keep the stoke flowing. An epic Day.
The greatest thing about surfing for me now is the ability to share a love of the ocean with my 14-year-old daughter. It's sharing a gift with her that will help her fulfill a life of adventure, travel, fitness, foth, excitement, calmness, and clarity along with a healthy respect for the ocean. From pushing her into whitewater to introducing her to reefs with nice solid 3-4ft groundswell and watching her handle herself in conditions that challenge her is inspiring. Teaching her how to read weather maps and understand nature. Her time to love surfing is now and my time will slowly end( long way to go though!!) and at the end of it, I will be a one truly stoked bloke.

wax-on-danielson's picture
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wax-on-danielson Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:27pm

I think a surfer killer is coastal property prices. When you reach adulthood you need the coin to live near the beach, you need a full commitment job to make the coin, work commitment kills surf commitment. Also video games, geez have they come a long way!

Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:09pm

Yep the days of buying a run-down beach shack with spare change have long gone. What is it with all these people wanting to live on the coast, hardly any of them even go in the water!

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 8:27pm

I think a surfer killer is coastal property prices. When you reach adulthood you need the coin to live near the beach, you need a full commitment job to make the coin, work commitment kills surf commitment. Also video games, geez have they come a long way!

omar's picture
omar's picture
omar Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 9:13pm

Great Thread
just turned 68 and still working and been surfing 55 years and still ride a shortboard but volume is my friend.
Didn't ever think I would be surfing at this age but I am still passionate and surf 2- 3 times a week. All my mates ( bar one) that I surfed with in my 20s dropped out of surfing which I couldn't believe as they were much better surfers than I was.
Longest period I didn't surf was about 18 months in 79-80 when I was travelling and living in London
I went through a period when I set up and was running my own business when I only surfed once or twice a week at most but now I am working for someone else it allows me a more flexibility to surf before or after work.
The sessions may be shorter than they were but as long as I get at least 3 decent waves a session I am happy
Just invested in a new steamer so I am optimistic about still surfing for a while yet but may have to add more volume to my next board

82shoes's picture
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82shoes Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 9:31pm

"if you used to surf you never did"

Taprobane's picture
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Taprobane Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:01pm

What were they doing then?

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GuySmiley Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 9:47pm

For me Steve Pezman said it best in an early Kidman film.

I can't remember his exact words but it was along the lines of as he ages that the sum of all the parts of his physical and mental surfing experience remain the same but his joy from that experience is increasing becoming a mental one.

I don't see myself ever quitting, it's too ingrained.

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johnny.charalambous Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 9:58pm

28 Year old Kook here, Matê gave me a mini mal first surf ever paddled out from the Burleigh point rocks, fell in love from that day, now ride his 6 Hypto 36l short board and have improved a lot but still cannot stand up for long and duck diving needs a lot of work. Have the drive and passion for it even tho they say it’s a 10 year sport, I aimfor the sky and won’t limit myself with this decade theory, always happy when I am in and exit the water even tho I am only A few hours in my career.

I paddled out in the biggest swell I have seen before at the Start of May at Tugun where I live,, made it out the back but I have a fear of paddling into larger waves, I was in awe of some of the bombs rolling through, and there was only a handful of surfers out, I way way out of my depth but just getting out in big swell is a effort in itself.

How do I overcome the fear and lock into bigger waves

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juegasiempre Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:14am

How do I overcome the fear and lock into bigger waves?

The way I did it was change my mentality. Instead of being scared and pulling back, every wave you commit 100% for, head down, scratch in, don't get under the lip, take a beating and get rattled. Well, that's success at your level! If you do that 100 times, the fear will be gone. Once the fear is gone THEN you can focus on the minutiae of surfing. As they say in the book Dune, "Fear is the mind killer".

For the second time in a minute, let me give you some Nietzsche. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

It's true and every time I paddle out these days on a big swell, I'm muttering Übermensch! to myself like some madman stuck on a loop. It works for me anyway.

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icandig Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:50am

All well and good, but be physically ready as well as mentally prepared. You don't want to get into a situation your body can't handle....and need rescuing, resuscitating or worse floating face down and drifting 100 k's down the coast.

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Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:59am

As groms we had Big Johno the kneeboarder patrolling the line up, if he seen ya paddle for a set wave and at the last moment grab the rails and drop anchors you knew you were going to get a slap, then a lecture. Johnny.Cha think about Big Johno looking over your shoulder and go.

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tango Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 10:52am

Johnny,
1. It's not a sport, and
2. Whoever said 10 years has missed the point - it's a lifetime.

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GuySmiley Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:03pm

Skip Frye 80 today ~~~~~~ Legend

Screen-Shot-2021-09-08-at-9-56-59-pm

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wally Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:03pm

Good Big Wednesday reference, Steve.
John Milius said, mirroring his own life, that one of the main points of Big Wednesday was that, as wonderful as the surfing life is, there was a melancholy internal ticking clock that said you had to seriously reduce your surfing as adult responsibilities kicked in.
A bit different these days. More flexible working hours and much better and diverse surfboard options for the ageing surfer.
Of course, if you fall victim to the middle age spread, a natural occurrence, it is pretty much all over.
Then there are SUPs, which have offered a whole new late surfer adoptee entry point.

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PhilSpearman Wednesday, 8 Sep 2021 at 10:28pm

Thank you, and what a reflective article. This that proves why you were returned to the SwellNet team. I think this piece racks up some editorial kudos.

This is a life conundrum. Why are some people always excited about life and some more intersted in the ills and the woes? (Glass half-full, or glass a little bit fuller!) I will do because I enjoy 'v' I can find reasons not to.

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spiggy topes Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:43am

Thanks FR for opening up for us all our biggest Pandora's Box. I find great inspiration in all these comments because I thought I was just about done. I've just turned 68, with 53 years of surfing behind me. My biggest break was at 24; seven years living in London and NYC and travelling a lot. Just past 30 and moving to Bondi, the sets came again. Tama and Maccas my local.
But in three years I've had the triple whammy - routine op gone wrong, run over by a big fella 46 years my junior, destroying my right eye, then covid; not crowding me out but isolating me on my wave-rich island paradise, family 1000 kliks away for nearly a year. So I'm turning a corner ...
I introduced my eldest son to his life-long love of surfing and his turning point came aged 10. It was way too big, killer sweep and he lost his board but Spechy caught it and paddled it back out to him and urged him on. At 29, he works very hard but surfs nearly every day and has done his whole life, all around the world.
Son #2 was one of the best natural stylists I've ever seen. Aged seven on a 7'2" it was magic to watch him barrel crouch like an Hawaiian, tanned as leather without a gram of fat. They both have done a lot of screen and desk time but those childhood years in the waves do not let them go. I look at them and think, this is the wheel of life.
I can't see a tennis ball much any more, or read the snow but the worst is being out of position because my one-eyed distance perception is shot. I miss a tonne of waves, going too early or too late and feel a deep frustration having my greatest love so impaired. I was going to toss it in and just go sailing.
But I'm not, mostly because of what I have just read. I'm paddling out tomorrow on the tide before some work drudgery. I might not even get a wave but the water is clean and warm, those who know me give me space (I warn 'em all about my blind spot) and the greatest peace I have ever felt in the natural world is floating about in the line up in anticipation of the long swoop turn. In November a big crew from 72 are congregating on the NSW south coast at a place of our many watery triumphs. There'll be tall tales and taller boards but we'll be 18 again, at our favourite point, nights around the camp fire and paddling into the summer dawn, and won't it feel good.

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spiggy topes Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:42am

Better get some sleep.

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velocityjohnno Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:25am

Great story Spiggy, wonderful to hear the kids became surfers in your life. Perhaps Derek Hynd might prove some inspiration with the loss of an eye, I think he made world #2 as he recovered!

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sean killen Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:31am

Getting close to 50 now .. still run up the sand dune each morning like a grommet .. even after checking the morning reports surf cams etc ..I’ll surf absolute rubbish most days just to keep fit for the good days.. heaps of the boys used to laugh .. nothing beats surfing fitness.. I still cross train but surfing fitness is a totally different fitness.. I loved it , boys nicknamed my mangrom.. I keep going till I can’t go any more...

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mac396 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:25am

You forgot to mention that some of us are just so adictted to surfing we keep going through to retirement age so have lots of time to chase waves again, ....... can then plan your week dependent on the surf forecast.
Pity about people working from home now though, midweek crowds have gone nuts, even in Southern Tassie!

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Solitude Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:00am

For how much interest this article has piqued, would it be fair to say the major demographic of surfers who visit this site are 50-65 y.o ?

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memlasurf Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:45am

Ha, yep bunch of old farts.

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Lukas_Z Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:20am

You will be too one day. Age doesn't discriminate so think about that. I still look up to those older than who are fitter than me either on a bike or in the surf. Just cause they can't throw a 360, they still catch more waves with style than mostachioed mellinials on their haydens.

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Ray Shirlaw Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:09am

Would anyone give up if doing so actually felt BAD? Being a hopeless surf addict,I've had to forcibly kick the habit at times over the years. And you know what? I felt liberated. Everyone should try it ,ASAP

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Lukas_Z Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:29am

Take a break and do smething else when you go back you'll enjoy it even more. I gave up surfing once I became a full time desk jockey, the allure was still there as well as the odd surf check, but the old excuses too windy, too small, too crowded, too far to drive became the norm. As I stacked on weight I started cycling a lot, got hooked on that, yes it's almost as addictive once you get good. Took up kitesurfing maybe 10 years ago and that's became addictive and almost as good. Lockdown has made surfing even more unreacheable and somehow more attractive and so have been surfing heaps when I can get down. Having a frothing mate who's always keen also helps.

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san Guine Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:27am

Mid fifties and still frothing. Will surf whatever craft until physically I can't.

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loungelizard Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:28am

from observation the main reason older surfers quit is they get fat. sorry, there's no other way to put it. no amount of foam compensates for the extra weight. there's nowhere to hide in a wetsuit or without. even putting on the rubber gets too hard with the big gut. let alone the vanity aspect. I can't speak to the stu type scenario of once being the alpha dog/hardest charger in the pack, but as a moderate surfer in his 60's , if you keep the weight down you can surf pretty close to your peak.
my other observation is you are either a longboard type or you aren't. I'm not. I have noticed that not infrequently better surfers get onto longboards etc, I think it may be because they seem more concerned with wave count and remembering the days they would dominate the pack.

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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:51pm

Maybe more to do with fitness than fat? I see a few pretty solid guys (albeit not many ) get heaps of waves on shortboards because they know where to be in the right spot to catch a wave.

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SunnyJack Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:27am

As a surfer of over 45 years I am considering quitting.
In my 50's,still fit and rip as hard as ever.
Problem is I never grew up.
The lifetime devoted to the waves has left me devoid of quality relationships, education and career. It's so out of step that it's almost depressing going surfing.
When this covert thing allows me to leave the coast, I will, most likely never to return.
More waves for all you guys, a lot more, I do get way too many waves in a session than most due to ability, experience and fitness (not greed, I give away a ton of waves, not set waves though haha).

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bonza Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:11am

wow.

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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:44pm

wanna swap lives? I'm about your age and after 30+ years working, studying, raising 3 kids, paying off a mortgage I'm ready to just to live on the coast and surf the rest of my life away.

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Age Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 9:46am

This thread has been super interesting to read. People leaning into deep philosophical questions with no easy answers. Why do I surf? How does surfing define me? What have I given up to be a surfer? What is the meaning of my life without surfing? Who am I if I can't surf?

Also, it is apparent that our requirement to be in great physical shape to enjoy our passion focuses our thoughts on facing our own mortality (possibly quicker than others). Unfortunately nothing lasts forever. Our surfing journeys will all end. The question is just how? Lose our passion? Distracted by life? Injuries? Ageing body? Die? No one has worked out yet how to surf forever. Our time is limited and that realisation is hard to accept. However, humans have an amazing ability to tell ourselves stories to distract us from that reality.

Why does surfing keep luring us all back? Why is it so addictive? Many reasons, but one of the most important is that state of 'flow'. When we are in the ocean chasing waves we are forced to live in the present. You need to be focused. Your mind doesn't wander as much to the past or the future. There is too much happening in the water that requires our immediate attention. Depending on your ability and experiences we need different conditions to get that total immersion (fully focused, for a beginner this may be 1ft slop, for someone else it may be 6ft Pipeline). This distraction, is a temporary escape from the realities of life. It allows us to rest our minds. It allows us to find an inner peace we can't find on land.

Without surfing we would need to face those inner demons more frequently and without distraction? Now that is a scary proposition.

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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:39pm

It's amazing the clarity of thought you have after a good surf session and forgotten about troubles on land. If only it would last long enough to be put into some positive action.

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markus9494 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:19am

The sheer volume of responses shows what an interesting topic you have raised Stu. I have, like quite a few others, reached a definite crossroad with my surfing. 57, I am struggling to beat an egg timer when it comes to getting to my feet. Paddling starting to wane as well. The circle of life ie birth (living within a very small universe), school (learning your place in the world), work (building assets to hopefully enjoy life) then death (horizons again reduced to one room) seems to be applicable to my surfing. Learning to surf, falling a lot, timing off, slow paddler. Getting good, horizons expand, searching for challenging waves, travelling. Then getting older and the quick beachies and slabs become too much of a challenge for lots of reasons and the horizons begin to contract. Back to falling off a lot.
I heard a young surfer girl laughing in the surf recently that someone had nicknamed her "speed hump". I loved that she was laughing about it, but it made me realise that I am rapidly regressing to a speed hump myself. I now avoid crowds even more due to the embarrassment of paddling for waves I no longer catch, or kooking the take off transition due to slowness. I can't embrace a longboard, I rightly or wrongly see it as giving up. And I watch perfectly reasonable humans become obnoxious wave pigs once they get on one. Even worse with SUPs. Once they start the "circle" of catching a wave every set regardless of crowd size, it's game over. I can't compete with younger and/or fitter people on shortboards, let alone a hipster on his 9 footer. Had to laugh recently after paddling out on a pretty good day. I caught a couple of decent leftovers straight up, then spent the next couple of hours getting snaked by everybody. 2 x SUPs doing the circle, then every other person in the line up kept paddling to my inside. I had not surfed this spot before so was trying to do the right thing and wait my turn which never came. Ultimately surfing is a very selfish sport. Our icons are largely epically selfish people who may be awesome to watch, but a nightmare to surf with (KS, MF, TC etc). Lost count of the amount of good conversations I have had in the car park with people who have just ruined a session for others, or are just about to.
Anyhow I am rambling, but the surf is up, so time to put my rapidly voluming up shortie in the car. The transition from 30 to 40 litres sure was quick. Hard to imagine life without surfing though. As someone said, like a golf course which is different every day. Hopefully today I won't be sub par.
Lastly, take a second to think whether you are "hogging". The most generous thing you can do is skip a wave every now and then. Just because you can catch every set, doesn't mean you should. You never know how much difference it could be making to someone's day/month/year/surfing career.

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tlearyus Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:21am

This is such a great reply and echoes my experiences and how I feel 100%. I often catch myself thinking "Do you have to take every wave", or Why don't you give one away".

I did it today, and the surfer next to me got a great wave. It felt great.

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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:35pm

Well told. Going for every wave is exhausting. Now we have surfing hydrofoils to deal with. Better to find some shitty waves and enjoy on your own.

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markus9494 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:41am

Sorry forgot to day, the laugh part of the session came when a guy they know started towing on a foil through the break. Threats yelled, general abuse. The wave hogs were not happy about being out hogged. Is there any other sport where inferior equipment gives you such an advantage? It's like a F1 race where trucks are also in the event, and they get a rolling head start.

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frog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:15am

I watched some free surfing footage of Trestles last night with Connor Coffin and Medina out in the crowd preparing for the finals day. The number of waves Medina caught was just amazing. It was as though the break was empty. He was always in the spot, on the inside takeoff or on the peak for the big ones and confident in any take off position to make it onto the face around big sections. Also, the X factor aura of being Medina and super competent meant the crowd just gave way to him.

He could of been more generous but that is not the point of my comment.

What was so interesting was how it highlighted the massive contrast between the alpha surfer's experience and the average surfer in waves caught in a crowded session. Maybe thirty waves for Medina and five for joe average.

The wind down in fitness and ability if you don't surf a lot and / or as you age creates a vicious cycle in crowded or difficult waves that can push you out the door pretty fast. You have to work to stay in the game.

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aussieguy Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:13am

Often see this played out at most of the very good breaks we have here in Aus. Local alpha or pro jags most of the waves leaving the average punter struggling to catch anything in their two hour session. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old fart as I'm in the second category. It's just that I can't think of any other sport or pursuit that is like this. You wouldn't see this on the golf course. At my gym everyone gets a turn on whatever weights they want to use. In the local pool, we all can swim. Even in the snowfields we can ski wherever we want for as long as we want.

My strategy? Avoid the crowds. I walk further down the beach and you'll see me sitting alone maybe not on the best waves but I'm stoked anyway. Also, nothing beats sitting on your board watching the sun come up.

Now if COVID lockdown will only end, I can get a surf in.

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jimmyrwilson Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:16am

I'm 49 and this SYD lockdown has really screwed with my mojo - i am outside the 5km zone so haven't surfed in 10 weeks, have thought about doing the sneaky a lot of times and then always think about how we need to do the right thing, don't want a 1000 buck fine etc, then on top waters cold, crowds are gonna be feral - doesn't take much and can already see how easy it is to slip away.......

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wurtulla Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:31am

@55 and with 47 years in the water. Still riding a selection of shortboards. Still Fit. I will never give up.

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surfcoastimages Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:53am

I feel good.
Looks like everyone was quitting in their 50's.
I stopped when I was 66. I am a photographer and when I bought a water housing, I now get my ocean fix with a camera rather than a board. The best thing is I now don't have to hassle with anyone and I get so much more enjoyment from the ocean again.

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Robo Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 12:03pm

Been surfing a bit in the lockdown with my daughters boyfriend and family, instant crowd of 8 but they usually go down the beach so ok.
The girls get in the way a bit or drop in lol, the boys that are good surfers are like ants all over the joint, get 6 to my 2 waves.
Have been teaching my daughter if you get a good one when you paddle back out if you are on the inside don't just take the next one, share.
Doesn't work for the boys, if they try it on me I just drop in on them, only way to teach them lol.
Can't complain too much, am surfing more and keeping fit.
Lockdown finishes tomorrow night now so hopefully they all go back to work, school, uni etc.
Back to just the normal crowd :)

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Mad Dog Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 12:09pm

Unreal article Steve, what a thread too! Congratulations to all of you legends commenting, it's really awesome to hear all of your stories.

I'm 55 this year, I still surf whenever I can, probably 6-8 times a month. I did the whole mountain bike thing around 10 years ago, which resulted in a torn supraspinatus tendon, 6 months of rehab and steroid injections and ages out of the water - thus the MTB was sold and the former owner scolded for ever thinking that MTB was an option for fitness. BTW that torn supraspinatus is now fully ruptured and I go under the knife in November - the only reason I'm having surgery is so that I can surf for the rest of my life.

I got to a stage about 5 years ago, on a trip to the Ments where the waves were under 4 foot all week. I had traveled thousands of miles to catch fuck all waves - my wave count wouldn't have topped 15 for the whole trip - and it took this to show me that my equipment was nowhere near satisfactory for a 50 year old.

That trip changed me. I went straight to a new shaper, who worked with me to develop a new quiver and now my shortest board is a 6'10 squash tail thruster that tops out around 58L. I also have a 7'6" fish, an 8'4" fun board and my 9'6" gun to complete the set. My surfing improved over a few months and learning to ride all the different shapes keeps me on my toes. The range of conditions I can surf in has dramatically changed too.

The other thing I changed was my expectations. Now for me surfing has become mental freedom and stress relief. I can still get out the back, with the ocean and wildlife around me and nobody can get to me for anything unless they paddle out to me. Here's my mantra; 1 good wave will do me, 2 good waves and I'm blessed, 3 or more good waves has been an epic session.

Surf on forever legends.

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Lukas_Z Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 1:27pm

Haven't read thru all the comments not sure if kitesurfing mentioned, have found this the better antidote between dreaded lycra cycling (mtb = broken bones, no thanks) or long drives to the coast, living by an enourmous bay. Closest feeling to surfing if you can dial into right waves and wind. Even our bay gets OH on occasion. It has possibly improved my surfing to the point where I think I'm better than I was when I was mid 20 (now 52). Know plenty of surfers who shred on a board and kite, and do both.

I would go years without surfing and fall in love with it again as have many others it seems recently. But it's something you've just gotta keep doing obviously no so easy in lockdown.

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scotth Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:07pm

58 Years old, five months till 59. I have been surfing since I was fifteen.
For some of the 44 years I surfed daily, most of it weekly or fortnightly, and for about ten years about once a year. I was always only ok at it, able to hold my own at the local during the hero era of your twenties but I surfed bugger all in my 30s and have been working it around career and family ever since. I haven’t minded missing days, weeks, and sometimes years between surfs. This has probably kept my joints and muscles together for longer so I am only just starting to have wear and tear issues on my shoulders now. The rest of me is pretty good but from the mid 50s holy shit its got harder to stay at a level. That level being the level you want to be at, whatever that is.
There are many things that are different about surfing now. Until they invented surf cams if you weren’t at the beach you could only guess what you were missing out on. Now days you know it’s pumping when you are at work or at a family barbecue or whatever. There is a world of difference between being told, “you should have been here yesterday” and seeing Snapper or The Pass reel off in real time.
But you know for me that is ok too. Surfing has always been more a complete experience for me than just paddling on to and performing on a wave. Even now I would rather surf chest high picture perfect than twice as big onshore.
Surfing does have something for everyone, those that want to compete, the chargers, the travelers and the ones like me who just want to feel that special magic that surfing has.

Now days I don’t even care so much if I don’t live right at the beach. I read a comment from another older surfer well into his 70s. He said that it is better not to have waves across the road from your door. You appreciate more what you have to work for, you are not so picky and perhaps your sense of entitlement is not so developed. I don’t think any monoculture is good for you, even one based around something as inherently sublime and healthy as surfing.
Lately though, some strange thoughts have been coming to mind.

Nobody likes crowded surf. Actually that is not true. I think there is a certain kind of surfer who enjoys the gladiatorial battle of catching waves and surfing well in big packs like you see at Noosa. But I doubt many of them are over the age of 45.
What makes it worse for the older surfer is not just the physical, mental or philosophical difficulties but also the sheer force of memory. The memories of surfing at these locations when there was far less hassle, plenty of waves and of course far less bodies in the water.
After all you can’t surf forever, sooner or later the day will come. Is it better to pass on the diminishing returns and instead go out with a bang? Sure beachies are fun and in some parts of the world consistently good for months at a time but what if where you live they aren’t and what if where you surf the best banks get crowded as well. Obviously even for a cruiser like me what I will be able to do on a wave will become less and less. What if “just for the fun of it” isn’t enough anymore?
For example what would you do if you could have four hours at your favourite spot, maybe Kirra or Crescent, Narrabeen or Winki, in what you see as perfect conditions with a guarantee that any wave you want is yours? Throw in a jet ski to take you back out the back, two buddies, beers and a photographer to capture the moment as well.
Yep, I know you could do all of this on a boat charter to Indo or the Maldives and people do, but for my generation a lot of great memories are tied up with spots here in Australia. I also know there are now wave pools but I have not tried one so I don’t know how it feels as to how it looks.
I think it’s a bit like being in a rock band. Would you rather go out with a bang in a massive stadium tour or fade away playing the same songs year after year to punters sipping chardonnay on winery lawns?
So would you take the offer, knowing that when you paddle in you have to leave your board on the beach, walk away and call it quits for good?
And if you could, when would you do it? Now, at the peak of your remaining powers or maybe you would wait till a set age, say at 65 or 70?
Would you take it?

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zenagain Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:11pm

A very Faustian question you've proposed there Scott.

What price do you put on a soul?

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simba Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:25pm

yep Neil Young answered that in 'Rust never sleeps"....better to burn out than to fade away...my my hey hey......

but each to there own

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velocityjohnno Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 6:00pm

Oh my, what a way to go out. Brings Olegas Truchanas and Peter Dombrovskis to my mind, the way their lives ended in the wilderness they loved so much.

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frog Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 7:57am

A great surf always makes you want more.....

I see working to stay a bit fit, feeling young"ish" and so being able to surf well as an interesting challenge and surfing is a way to stay fit and feel young"ish". A virtuous circle with no vinegar stroke climax.

I sort of like being the older guy who still surfs well.

Performance wise, I take pleasure in a well surfed (not over surfed) wave, weaving in the optimum speed zone, feeling the wave and finding a really good line plus occasional big moves in the right spots, Even just one good move i.e. shoot out of a fast section, feet on the sweet spot and into a big slash on my 42 litres 6'3" non-performance type board - in a session is enough high performance to keep me excited. I go home thinking "yep, that felt great and was up there with what I used to do at 20, or 30". I don't need to do 10 of these a wave or a session.

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GreenJam Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:42pm

maybe you missed one factor FR, and from a skim of the above comments I didnt see specific mention of it - illness, having your passion ripped away from you at your prime. That's my story (its complex, largely related to a photosensitivity issue, and other muscular pain). But I never broke up with the ocean (as someone above commented must happen if you quit). I did eventually move away from it, in part to avoid the relentless disappointment of seeing or knowing it was pumping and not being able to get amongst it, but was still visiting on occasion to much joy. But now I am blessed with the opportunity to revisit and stay at the beach for a few days at a time on a regular basis, and I must say this more intense reconnection with the ocean has been amazing for the soul. And its also rekindling the idea that I can actually get back amongst it, in a much reduced capacity (short pre-dawn stints), so that is my medium-term plan. I even bought a new springsuit. I've never lost the knowledge of how good a dawn oily glassy solo session is for my wellbeing...

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megzee Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:51pm

Great comments befitting a great article...Well written Freeride....
We probably all shared the same waves at one point 20, 30 or 45 years ago....
I haven't quit and probably never will voluntarily......But I have certainly slowed the pace......My vertical re-entry is now more of a slow arcing top turn and my figure 8 cutty is nothing but a mild change of direction......
I guess whatever path takes you too, or away from surfing, the memories, stoke, lessons and visions will always remain...
Geez, If I'm standing on a river bank and a boat goes past, I am instantly grommetized by the perfect 2 or 3 inch left hander that reels along the sand.....Same with standing on the deck of a boat watching the never ending handers from the prop wash.......
Waves are mesmerizing and deeply ingrained in all of us.
I am now living in a part of the world not traditionally known as a wave haven, but it does have it's glory days........More often than not, I'm having a body wedge and searching that little bit of tube vision.........The barrel is only big enough for my boof head, but it instantly takes me back to my stand up pit days in the West when I was younger.......
A couple of months ago, there was a long weekend holiday and tens of thousands of holiday makers came to town from Saigon and the waves were clean but smallish at around three to four foot on the sets, along a stretch of beach about 5 k's long...
There was literally 10 -15 thousand people on the beach and only one surfer in the water.......me.......I felt kinda special, because i was looking at the masses on the sand and enjoying something no one else even realized was there.....
We are all lucky, lucky bastards.......
Board volume and age withheld....but plenty and plenty of both...

Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19 Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 2:57pm

A great thread and inspiring reading about surfers over 70 . I am 62 . I have never lost the passion for surfing just the fitness .

In Melb , working , don't like cold water and have kids .

Bought a Mal 30 years ago to get waves at Curl Curl . It helped a lot sitting 10 meters out from the pack waiting for the odd bigger wave . Most other surfers hate mal riders but I don't care . I will not do stand up boarding ( yet ) .

Have taken the Mals to Indo and at 90kg have no trouble throwing them around . Riding waves are easy , catching them and popping up are the hard bits . Paddling is easy to get fit for ( tie my leggy around a tree and jump in the pool ) but popping up is my problem .

Unfortunately , due to circumstances , I have had very few surfs in the last 5 years . Especially in the last 3 years due to not going on a trip when I get my wave count up .

I always look forward to getting back into the surf and am prepared to do the hard yards to get surfing fit . It is a shame I loose it so quickly .

simba's picture
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simba Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:29pm

funny how this thread is like a therapy session......right up there with the most contributions in the forum i can remember......

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megzee Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:44pm

You know Simba..... you are right mate.....
I was laying on a long leather couch when I wrote my spiel.......I feel so much better now......The wonders of Therapy..
Freeride76 should be the new SN counsellor....Looking forward to next weeks appointment already....

The poo man's picture
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The poo man Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 3:52pm

I wonder how many surfers quit after getting surfers ear and developing a hideous, high pitched ringing noise that never goes away

easternsponge's picture
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easternsponge Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:00pm

Spent 10 days in Krui around Easter 2019. It pumped the whole time, with super fun sessions at the Peak and the bowl. But the last two days we had Mandiri 4ft+ and perfect all day with maybe 10 guys out. That was something else. Bathwater beach break pits for days. Doesn't get better. Got back home and didn't get back in the water for a good 6 months. My mate calls me a champagne surfer now. Also doesn't help having my local 6km from home...

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:14pm

Wow, the comments, stories, insights, inner reflections and advice above are great.

I grew up in the North Eastern suburbs of Adelaide (closer to the Barossa than surf), some 1hr 20min drive to Victor Harbor where there's reliable, consistent surf, but nothing overly pumping. The Mid Coast was 45mins away and I was introduced to the ocean by yearly summer holidays down to Port Elliot when I was very young.

Pulling into shories on the boog at Port Elliot, then Boomers and sometimes, if we were up for it Knights into my teenage years.

Then one trip I remember seeing the surfers off Middleton and mentally going, I want to do that. It was my first year of Uni (18 yrs old) and just before summer holidays I remember looking in the classifieds and there was a second hand board going in the next suburb over from me. What were the odds? I bought it, drove myself down to Middleton and taught myself to surf on this shockingly thin banana short board. I probably wouldn't even be able to ride it these days!

I started getting to my feet and then our annual, two week summer holiday trip arrived. I went 3x a day, totally addicted and seeing improvement every surf. I remember when starting seeing people sitting out the back in the calm sea beyond the breakers, and all I wanted to do was paddle out back and sit with them, not being smashed by the constant whitewash. Anyone who knows Middleton knows that even at 2ft there's 200 duck dives to be had to get out there.

Well by the end of the two weeks I could get out back, trim and do slow cutbacks and even pulled off this floater I still remember to this day. That was it, and I've not looked back since!

The main point of my story is I feel the majority that stick with it are those who didn't grow up by the coast (and also started a bit later in the their teenage years/early 20's), not being able to surf before or after school of whenever they wished. I don't take it for granted and never will and that keeps my stoke going.

Driving for hours on end to trips further west also makes having surf only a few minutes away from home now a novelty which I'm very thankful for.

I'll never stop and will just adjust my boards as I age but surfing every kind of craft, suitable to the conditions keeps it fresh. Also road trips and missions to lesser known breaks keeps the adventure and stoke alive.

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chris.mills Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 4:39pm

I lived life in reverse. First "boys" surf trip to PNG aged 59. Now 66 and have averaged 1 surf trip to various places every year (except 2021). Still as keen as trying to catch up for all the missed years. Went to school in Lithgow and worked away from the coast. So also started having holiday surfs late in life and moved to the coast when I was 59.

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petermitchell Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 5:03pm

It’s worth noting that in the 70s it was almost unheard of to surf past your late twenties. Most blokes just considered themselves too old for it and ended up at the pub/ TAB…true story. Now the average surfer is probably in their late thirties.

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dandandan Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 7:12pm

Some really interesting comments, especially from those of you a few decades older (I'm 35). I've been really aware how easy it is for surfing to slip away, so I remain pretty disciplined staying flexible and not too unfit.

Like others a mixture of crowds and lackluster waves can be a real downer. I've spoiled myself with a decade of good Indo memories in great waves, and the last few years pushing myself into bigger waves and that has really given life to my surfing. I've lost none of the stoke with not being able to get to Indo, but my surfing life has fewer intense peaks at the moment that's for sure. I will be doing Indo trips of 2-8 months long for as long as life will let me once it opens back up. At home I'm riding a mix of boards, and will surf for 8 hours a day on good days because I know there'll be weeks with nothing to phone home about in between.

One thing that might steer me away from surf for a long period that I haven't seen mentioned is that you just miss out on so much by being so connected to the sea. At the moment I'm 7 weeks into a 10 week long stint working in remote Aboriginal communities across APY and Ngaanyatjarra Lands and I haven't seen any body of water bigger than a dunny bowl for two months. But I've had the most wonderful time in years. I've learned so much and just grown so much personally over that time, and have had to be pretty careful to not take up one of the half dozen job offers I've had to spend a few years here in the desert. There's so much to learn, to experience, and with a background in linguistics and anthropology my mind is positively racing out here. I've more or less told myself I'll do a 1-2 year stint out here before I am 45. Another mate was going to come, but couldn't face the 10 weeks away from waves and stayed home. We chat most weeks and can't believe what each other is missing out on.

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ringmaster Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 8:40pm

Nice one Dan.

Balancing life out is great for your surfing mindset I reckon.

Sounds like you've got it pretty well dialed.

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Spuddups Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 5:15am

Sounds like you're onto a pretty worthwhile thing there Dan.

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stunet Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 7:26am

Great stuff, Dan.

You're obviously tuned to the metaphorical riches that lay beyond the surfing world, but what interested me during the times I moved away from the coast was how surfing appeared from a distance. Not always the healthy and vibrant culture it appeared from when you're living within it, and also, how I came to appreciate heretofore overlooked aspects upon return.

The rewards flow each way.

That said, one to two years is a long bloody time away.

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freeride76 Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:32am

thats what books are for Stu.

I'm obsessed with Russian literature/culture.

especially from 1850-1950.

Not sure I would want to spend time there though.

But it sure makes me appreciate the here and now of being able to paddle out and catch a wave.

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juegasiempre Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:44am

Dostoevsky! Just finished reading Crime and Punishment last night, probably the best book I've read along with 'Brave new world' by Aldous Huxley.

I'm going to read Ghost Wave (from lurking on this website, hope it's on par with Barbarian Days) or Denial of Death next, but after that it's back to Dostoevsky! I find that you have to space out authors like that or it gets too much.

If you have any other book recommendations I'd love to hear them; I figured with your writing ability (a close 2nd to Ding Alley IMO) you'd be a voracious reader.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:46am

Try and get a hold of Vasily Grossman.
Life and Fate.

It's mammoth but worth the effort.
Take your time.

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frog Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:40am

Try and find Maxim Gorky's autobiography. I have only read My Childhood (1913-14) so far - fascinating insight into a far off time.

One thing it highlighted is just how "naughty" kids and youth can be with time on their hands as was the case back then with limited schooling, no work and none of the modern entertainments. It was sort of dangerous to be out the streets alone as packs of bored youth would just rough you up or create all sorts of trouble just for "fun".

There is a lot to be said for sport, TV and video games to keep the kids occupied....

The streets had starving, stranded soldiers from Napoleon's defeated army wandering around... The untold consequences of famous battles.

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Distracted Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 11:47am

Dan, the Australian desert is an amazing landscape with great people, so being able to work there is a special opportunity. Also makes that first plunge back into the ocean extra special!

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Craig Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 1:17pm

That's so good Dan! A once in the life experienced and one to really make the most of. The ocean will always be there.

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Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:42am

Dan the Man, I hear what your saying brother. I was lucky and privileged to spend time on/in first nations communities across red dirt country and you do pine for the ocean while being amazed at the environment your standing in. I just put it down to a bad dose of salt water dehydration (metaphorically).

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tubeshooter Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:25pm

I quit surfing at least 3 times a week. I've also retired from commercial fishing every year for the last seven years. Tomorrow I'm giving up drinking beer .

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megzee Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 10:40pm

Hey Tubeshooter....if you need support on the beer give up thingy.....let me know...
I gave up an hour ago....we can get through this mate....
Cheers
Oops......regards Megzee

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Spuddups Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 5:21am

I think it might have been Teddy Roosevelt who said that giving up smoking was easy, since he had done it hundreds of times.

tubeshooter's picture
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tubeshooter Thursday, 9 Sep 2021 at 11:21pm

Cheers Megzee , that's ok ,still got 40 minutes on the clock.
Stay strong brother. One day at time , they tell me.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 7:01am

Enjoyed reading your comments guys very interesting. I'm mid sixties now and am actually enjoying my boards with a 7 at the start of the dims more and more. You cant really go vert on them especially backhand but the longer rail and volume give you the glide as well as those longer drawn out turns which is a new kind of high. I met and old bloke in Yamba once whose back was shot and at age 74 he couldn't stand anymore. His friend designed him a Paipo style glass body board that looked awesome...It was just under 5 feet long had some volume and a wide swallow as well as a mildly spooned out deck and quad fins. It had those clubby handles up front for grip and the thing went fast and great and he loved it. It was made for him by Jack Knight at Harvest surfboards on the Goldy. I was inspired by it and realised that even when I get too old to stand I can get one like that. Old Bobby Cooper used to say " yeh this is my 9'1" bodyboard" and he was out there almost till the day he died... I'm not a fan of paddle boards in the lineup as there seems to a be lack of manners among many. I go everyday down to the beach to surf or launch my tinny.
Some days I say to myself, nup not going to surf today...just have a swim...but...I'll just chuck my board in just in case....Get there...closeouts but glassy...clear water and sun...I think I just saw one peel a little bit ..maybe.....wax up ....paddle out an optimist...Its a sickness but a good sickness.

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dandob Friday, 17 Sep 2021 at 12:51pm

That would have been John Witzig. My mates and I called him " Horn board" when we were groms, not realising his place in surf history.

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D-Rex Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:43am

A psych would have a field day with this stuff...

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Phil Jarratt Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:06am

I've been surfing for 60 years, with a little bit of time off for good behaviour here and there, and to be honest, every session hurts somewhere. I still surf every day there's a wave (which is most) but the sessions are pretty short, and often half of them are spent talking about war wounds with the old codgers in the lineup. The back of my neck hurts like crazy when I raise it to paddle, the lower back creaks when I try to pop-up, and the pop-ups are getting very slow. I've had a heart attack in the surf so I'm always a bit wary of extending myself too much. I'm happy to get half a dozen nice ones and go in. So it's not surfing as we once knew it, but give up! Are you fucking crazy! My inspiration is the late Barry "Magoo" McGuigan, a quiet gentleman of our culture who surfed with style every day he could until cancer claimed him at 85. So as soon as the tide turns I'm paddling out.

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batfink Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 4:24pm

Magoo was my neighbour at the up the coast place I can’t get to. He was still surfing really well into his 80s, still doing 20 minutes of headstands every day and at 30 years his junior my hair was greyer. Legend, as deserving of that word as anyone I’ve met.

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freeride76 Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:08am

Magoo left a great template.

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Panman Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 12:58pm

I have been scrolling a long time on this I think it’s the best forum so far on swellnet.
It’s even lured in some top shelf contributors .
Just going to check the surf now so I’ll be back later

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GreenJam Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 1:42pm

That reminds me of the 'Surfing for Life' doco, pretty sure Magoo was in that? I happened to luck into seeing it in an old theatre/hall on Kauai in '99, was a great evening

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andy-mac Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 2:24pm

Surfers are the ‘throw-aheads’ of mankind, not the dregs; they aren’t the black sheep of humanity, but the futurists and they are leading the way to where man ultimately wants to be. The act of the ride is the epitome of ‘be here now’, and the tube ride is the most acute form of that. Which is: your future is right ahead of you, the past is exploding behind you, your wake is disappearing, your footprints are washed from the sand. It’s a non-productive, non-depletive act that’s done purely for the value of the dance itself. And that is the destiny of man.

Timothy Leary

Great forum... Feel blessed to have surfed.

batfink's picture
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batfink Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 4:49pm

Wonderful contributions. Ape Anonymous asking what kept us going was really interesting. I think there may be secrets there.

Having started late at 30, and yes, not really an option in my youth, I’m sure it’s easier to keep going into older age, but there are still phases you probably have to get through to keep going.

For myself I’d say the first 10 or more years were just pure passion. I’d get all jumpy and frothing, internally, just paddling out. Getting through that initial pain of developing strength and technique to at least make waves, this stage is self-fulfilling and you can’t get enough of it, until;

Surf mates move out of town, young kids start eating into your time, the question is asked of you, do you really want this? The answer is yes, but the joys are fewer and harder to come by.

Next stage, the passion is gone but the love remains (sounds like a marriage, well it is). Somehow the desperate NEED to get out there is replaced by a desire to be out there. This has become something that is part of you, a way that you see yourself, and you’re not going to let that go easily, but it isn’t the same driving passion of those earlier years.

Finding reasons - you realise that things aren’t as they used to be, but you want to stay with it, and it gets you to thinking about why you do stay with it (sounds like a marriage … ba boom tish). You find those reasons or you don’t.

For me, that was the cool, clear water, those breaks up and down the coast where you can paddle out and only look back at sand and bush, weekends away with similarly minded friends, total glass offs, those 3 or 4 really good sessions a year where the waves are glorious and the numbers are low (it can be as many as 10, I’d say the last year about 2 for me ) fitness and health, the connection with nature and the realisation that this keeps you sane, and if you’re going to give it up you had better find something equally mentally/psychologically fulfilling, or you’ll fall to the bottle.

And strangely since reading Wim Hof something like 15 years ago, realising that cold water was not something that was a price to pay, but one of the chief benefits. I’m not doing the WH breathing or programme at all, he just changed my relationship with cold. Now I realise that cold water exposure is one of the best things you can do for your body.

So you have to have a plan, and mine is just to make sure that my connection with the water is maintained. That means a lot more body surfing than I had originally planned, to deal with crowds. I now get a whole flagged off area to myself, and body surfing is a more intimate connection with the energy of the wave.

But that’s just to keep me in the game, and get me through summer when I’m in Sydney, and to keep me connected. Because it’s like a marriage, you know.

CraigFitz's picture
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CraigFitz Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 6:17pm

Hi Steve, enjoy your writing in general and especially liked this topic. I am one month off 60 and like most, really struggle with paddle strength getting onto a wave and/or successfully getting to my feet.

I see a trainer once a week, do his drills 4 times a week and swim quite a bit (when we can due to covid).

I was wondering if any readers have truly come back from the crappy paddle strength/failing popup combo and managed a dramatic improvement in both.

I dont expect miracles but to hear that someone has had success would be encouraging (and what was their trick).

Anyway, thankyou and thanks to Swellnet, love the site.

BD's picture
BD's picture
BD Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 6:23pm

Great article I’m struggling with exactly this, surfing since I was 8 now 46. I still surf but can easily go weeks without getting wet and I literally live on the beach. Was once a very good surfer now I need everything to align to even be 50% of what I was in my 20’s. Love taking my kids for surfs and helping them out but my own personal desire has dimmed massively, a lot of work stress I like to blame for that lack of interest but I suspect even without that issue I might be nonplussed. Extra weight also slows me down I honestly think if you hit a decent performance level when young it’s a head fuck dealing with the current you. There is still the very odd transcendental moment but the frequency is far lower. The gym is a reliable source to get endorphins flowing vs the remote chance of attaining that through the waves. Anyway I hope I don’t flat out give up but the current trajectory is that way

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scott_scott Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 8:20pm

After reading this article/comments, I can’t help but can draw parallels with Dino Buzatti’s 1940 novel ‘The Tartar Steppe’. It tells the tale of an officer posted to a remote outpost overlooking a desert. He spends his career waiting for an attack by a barbarian horde rumoured to live beyond the desert. Years and decades pass - his old friends in the city have married, had children and lived full lives, he has come away with nothing except solidarity with his fellow soldiers in their long, patient vigil. When the attack by the Tartars finally arrives, he gets ill and is dismissed by the new chieftain of the fortress. On his way back home, he dies lonely in an inn – a much harder battle than the glorious death he had hoped for.

CT110's picture
CT110's picture
CT110 Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:00pm

Why do we quit

I had to join to answer this question, i dont think you ever quit, even if you may not had surfed in 6 months or 2yrs in my case my best memories are from surfing. As i have got older and my memory is starting to fade and become cloudy there are memories that are burnt deeply into my brain of surfing i can remember some session better than my wedding day my 1st born child as life takes over some things are lost but never forgotten.
I had a rush watching my son win his 1st grand final i enjoy watching my kids ride there motor bike i enjoy fishing with my kids.
I still have a burning desire for surfing but that does not mean i need to surf as i take pleasure from a far these days.

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Friday, 10 Sep 2021 at 9:59pm

Spot on CT. And welcome. It's true. Some of those memories remain strong. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

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Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:23am

Happy and Sad at the same time! Yeah Flow, it's like watching your mother in law drive your new 200 series Cruiser off a cliff, happy and sad all at the same time!

wingnut2443's picture
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wingnut2443 Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 3:22am

WOW,

What a timely topic for this aging grommet.

Awesome contributions crew.

My journey, punctuated by many of the things raised by others in this line-up (work, family, kids, career, location, injury, health, etc.), entered a prolonged waning crescent phase without notice a little while ago.

Ongoing lower back issues keeping me out, with a yo yo return then reinjury recover cycle just adding further frustration. You know the drill, lost surf fitness, extra weight, struggle in surf, frustration, and for me the black dog nipping at my heels.

Currently 10kg above the volume range in the quiver, with very suspect surf fitness and the lower back that seems to go numb after a short time ... keeping the dog at bay is an ongoing challenge.

Is it a permanent dark sky for my surfing journey, or can a waxing crescent emerge?

Memories, fleeting enjoyment in the water; soul refreshing mental health elixir. Do I quit that?

Or, is the reward vs effort just permanently unbalanced?

With 50 trips around the sun in my journal so far, I sense a new chapter, and rabbit hole, into board design for old kooks like me might just be the catalyst for more time in the brine. I hope.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:47pm

Go for it Wingnut, I'm hoping you're thinking for a >10kg-worth of volume increase?
Boards can be like clothing: the "fat jeans" and the "thin jeans" - might be the same board but one is 55L and one is 42L... ("Do my turns look huge in that?")
Lower back: was taught yoga at uni, instructor was an ex-deckie who had nuked his lower back, the yoga brought him 'back'

wingnut2443's picture
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wingnut2443 Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:17am

VJ, I'm sad to admit, but honestly, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to "maintenance" regime for my lower back; My osteopath berates me, as he once again realigns my hips and lower back.

As for boards. Hmmm, here's the thing, lots of guys making boards in the "range" but I'm struggling with the overall feel and approach. Need some "help" but also want to do a turn or two and "feel" like I'm still surfing ok (video evidence would likely confirm lifetime kookdom).

Do we need to care if we look fat on (in) them, it's how it makes us feel that's more important, right?

Jason Milton's picture
Jason Milton's picture
Jason Milton Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 4:20am

Yup. I couldn't agree more. I remember when I learnt to surf in Morocco 8 years ago, I kept in touch with the people in group class and all of them except 1 ended up quitting within 12 months. That learning period is by far the hardest part of surfing.

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 5:27am

After reading more great replies, I thought I'd address one issue: If you find yourself unable to surf due to location or other other constraints, find another 'outlet' for your physical/sporting needs.

My wife and I spent a year in Europe ('09-'10), most of it living in Denmark. No surf, but we were on the beach and I had a swim or dip every bloody morning, whether the water temp was 22C or -1C. Hooked up with a friendly group, and we'd do long ocean swims, fiercely competitive roadbike rides etc.

I got fit as all hell, bodybashed some mini shoreys, and had a great time socially. Felt great, rather than descending into surf-deprived despair.

So maybe if your shoulders are stuffed, and you like to ride a bike, find a likeminded group and seek out empty back roads. Or a trail running group, or whatever. Keeping it social and regular can work wonders - even for someone like me who usually likes to do things solo.

icandig's picture
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icandig Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:58am

Beautiful Denmark. Travelled there in 2013 and bodysurfed naked at Kandestederne and swam at the junction of the North and Baltic seas. Stayed in sand dune shacks with grass growing on the roof and midnight sun.....thanks for the reminder......my favourite memories of Europe.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 5:35am

Today's reading seemed to suit this thread.
Verse of the Day
Isaiah 46:4 (New International Version)
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:39am

Finally got around to reading this article and the comments... wowzers. Thanks to everyone for their contributions. 'Twas great to read about life experiences that are similar to my own.. feels like there's a much a stronger camaraderie amongst the (quasi-anonymous) surf community than I've previously been aware of.

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Liam at the Tawny Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 8:33am

Fantastic article. So many home truths there. I personally have surfed maybe 3x in past 12months, every session nigh on a complete waste of time when considering how bad the waves were and how badly I was surfing. It doesn't seem that long ago that I surfed 4x a day for probably 7 years straight, age 18-25 literally in the water non-stop. I doubt I'll ever "quit" but with work and family requirements, I don't see the daily surf routine becoming part of my life again for quite a while, so that obviously runs the risk of ringing the death knell too. Hope not.

Hot stuff's picture
Hot stuff's picture
Hot stuff Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:06am

Skin cancer.

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southey Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:39am

Well done Steve .
Thought provoking as usual .

There’s so much cross over in all these stories .

It’s easy for many to quit and I feel the same examples fit .

The harder it was for you to get hooked into surfing ( what ever the reason that made it difficult , be it distance , money , ability , ease that it came to you , opportunities ) . This will measure how much you’ve invested and how much you feel that you could never fully walk away .

Surfing is difficult to master and maintain , harder than 99% of other activities .

Even though it feels like the ocean is my ex , we still get together occasionally to re kindle the love .

Being a conditions Nazi was the hardest thing to let go of ( looking a gift horse in the mouth ) so to speak .

But sometimes it’s just great to hear her voice , the warm ( cold kiss here ) embrace is enough . Other times I might get to massage her beautiful walls and dip my fingers during a nostalgic bottom turn .
Once or twice a year she may let me enter and exit her holiest of holes .

There’s the occasional rejection or things are too risky . When what I should be concentrating on with my current priorities makes a session feel like I’m cheating .

I don’t care what anyone thinks and I’ve long ago given up on being judged .

Sometimes it has to be just me and her out of prying eyes sight .

Other times we are happy to meet up in a crowd .

The love of the ocean will never cease and long after we can’t stay physically attached , I’ll still remember the good times .

Some may say I’m in denial ,
but I’m never quitting .

The affair will live on .

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:43am

I regret nothing

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:42am

I think I’ve read this thread 5 or 6 times with the intention of writing my bit...something profound or perhaps shedding some light on the topic.
Nothing.
I’ve got nothing.
I just cannot comprehend how/why you’d quit.
Sorry.

groperbaby's picture
groperbaby's picture
groperbaby Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:49am

Disclosure:
I'm not a surfer, that is a board rider, but have loved ocean swimming all my life (now 77) and have never given it up. I don't do the distances I used to do, swim at a slower, steadier pace and no longer compete in ocean swims nevertheless feel life wouldn't be nearly as good if I had to give it up.
Perusing the discussion re surfers giving it up I find it interesting that apparently so many do because at my local (famous) beach the boards are taking over the whole beach. Bit by bit they've encroached on what was traditionally mostly a swimmers beach.
Experienced ocean swimmers head out beyond the break and swim point to point (1 kilometer) and don't limit their swimming to 'between the flags'. For those who do swim between the flags the allotted space is getting narrower and narrower and even in that supposedly safe space swimmers are at risk of getting bonked by boards.
The board riders are aggressive, see themselves as being entitled to right of way (bit like bike riders on footpaths) and appear to believe all swimmers should stay in their safe place between the flags.
What is my point?
Well, it's a chance to have a moan on a surfing blog.
I'm also wondering if a big reason surfers give up is because it's become so 'trendy' and is thus attracting hordes of suburban wannabees who like the image only to discover at a later date it's actually beyond them once they try surfing beaches where there are no swimmers to monster. Only big scary waves and the odd shark.
Cheers.

Casey Herman's picture
Casey Herman's picture
Casey Herman Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:32am

I had my last surf last Christmas, just before I had 2 knee operations, (the last operation last month). I can't wait to surf again! I'm 67 and don't intend to stop surfing but being in Melbourne and cos of the lockdown, I'll have to wait until we're allowed to drive more than 5 km.

As for sharks, I've seen enough of them and they haven't attacked! It's there territory. Besides, I've probably eaten my own body weight in flake so that if I ever DID get chomped, the score would be 1-ALL.

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barreldogs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:54am

The elephant in the room. People say crowds but I’m going a little deeper.

Years ago a friend and I were doing the hour and a half pre dawn dash to reasonable waves (compared to the shit that passes as waves at Hobart “local” beaches). Ran into old school legend Atrurs Innes at the halfway house bakery. Having a chat about how good conditions were looking and he says something like “isn’t it funny how we are happy and laughing now, but once we hit the lineup it’ll be on for young and old”.

At the heart of it, we say crowds, but generally speaking, surfers are just self centred cunts. As it was, that session there was literally only the three of us out for a couple of hours, and we all took turns and carried on the pleasant conversations. All it takes is for one arsehole to turn on cunt mode and the whole dynamic changes.

How hard is it to actually take turns with even a dozen people on a bank, but it doesn’t happen. Everyone goes into froth mode and needs to get as many set waves as possible. Fuck the fact that the poor bloke sitting next to you has paddled for the last ten waves, but pulled back because there was somebody on the inside so he did the right thing and pulled back. He’s now in the spot, but you’re itching for another wave, so you sneak up the inside, turn and go even though it’s not your turn. Cunt.

Yep, I’m getting old and grumpy, but it’s not because of the crowds. It’s because surfers are cunts. I don’t like hanging out with cunts.

gavin007's picture
gavin007's picture
gavin007 Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:55am

I have turned to other sports and still enjoy them, and at one period would get less than half a dozen surfs in a year. Right now, at 62, I'm surfing as often as the weekend weather (and currently lockdowns) allows me. The bug never totally goes away and just keeps on coming back with a bigger hit. I now head for the less crowded locations - wave count over convenience and quality.

Blue Blue Room's picture
Blue Blue Room's picture
Blue Blue Room Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 11:09am

Love both Groper, ocean swimming has been my nexus for surfing. It's the one thing I hope continues for me as life goes on as I turn from a land creature into a sea creature experiencing newness with every swim.
Surfing is my true love but gee swimming in the ocean with just bathers & goggles gives me food for thought every time. The test of mind & body is winter, just finished my tenth winter. I tip my swim hat off to you Groper at 77, bloody champion.

Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 11:39am

In the great wise words of scum valleys finest, aka the punch drunk pikey, aka the sultan of Psilocybin and guru of micro dosing "Are YOU Kiiiiiding Me". Swellnet, Steve and all that have contributed to this slow cooked Stu, enjoy the feed, it's good. At 57 I still think I'm 16, after reading this thread and summer coming I might have another crack, get away from being behind the lens and participate again.
Lower expectations grab a new shooter with more volume, be open to conversation in the lineup, let the bad waves wash away, like water off a ducks back and be present in the moment meditate you might say. Between waves stare at the sand the reef and see whats going on beneath your feet or have a laugh and a chat with the closest human ie "Mate that last wave you got was epic...........until you bogged a rail". It feel's good to know that there's a bunch of old farts out there going through the same dilemmas that I'm going through. Double thumbs up to the crew.

SurferSam's picture
SurferSam's picture
SurferSam Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:55pm

Up the fkn swellians brother ha ha

gomatix's picture
gomatix's picture
gomatix Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 11:52am

Great article! Love everyone sharing their own personal experiences.

I am 56 and I can still kinda mix it up with the super-groms, big swinging dicks etc.. I have a 6.1, 33l twinnie that is a life saver. It is fast and loose, easy to paddle, push under. It took me ages to find just the right board to support my ageing. I have been surfing for over 40 years.

How I manage the ageing surfer experience:
I keep on top of my weight through reasonable nutritional habits
I do plenty of flexibility exercises to keep myself limber. I do a full stretch routine before I go out into the water.
I use whatever wave craft that is suitable for conditions and crowds. I have various boards from 6.1 -> 9.1. The only criteria of which one to use is 'how much fun will I have'.
Do not dismiss mini-mals, mals etc. they are different but a whole lot of fun in and of themselves.
I realise that I'm not going to be doing 8 hours sessions, but that is fine, I do what I can and I am always the better for it. It is great exercise, and I always leave the water
a better person than when I entered.

The idea of quitting surfing...well, it just isn't going to happen. Surfing has given me so much and provided me with so many adventures and experiences. It has completely shaped me as a person. Surfing, like life, requires tenacity, grit, discipline, courage, and dedication to get the most out of it. There are days were you will feel crushed and demoralised, or you will get hurt, but on others days when everything lines up: the ocean, the setting, and you are in sync with your body and the waves,
you come out the water and every molecule in your body seems to be fizzing with the joy of life...how can I somehow leave this behind? I realise I could get injured or I could get too old, but I will adapt. Just being in the ocean in nature is a privilege and I don't take it for granted.

SurferSam's picture
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SurferSam Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 9:54pm

What stretch routine do you use mate. ?Keen to start something like that too

gomatix's picture
gomatix's picture
gomatix Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 10:06am

It is nothing scientific and just something I have put together on my own. So rotate and stretch shoulders, core, outer thigh stretch, a few pushups with upward dog (yoga - can look it up) and rock back on to your heels a few times to loosen up the lower back. Then flat foot squat and rock knees. Rotate neck while in flat foot squat. You may think you will look like a dick, but in your 50s and plus there is no option. It will save your bacon!

suchas's picture
suchas's picture
suchas Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 12:25pm

Word of warning to all- you heard it here first.If you are thinking of starting surfing- don't.If you've spent your life chasing the dream- give up now! Surfing in an incurable disease- it will be with you forever.But, salvation is at hand- the Gov is working on a vaccine. And it will be mandatory!

groperbaby's picture
groperbaby's picture
groperbaby Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 12:55pm

@barreldogs
'At the heart of it, we say crowds, but generally speaking, surfers are just self centred cunts.'
My thoughts exactly but as a well-brought up young lady far be it for me to express myself so crudely. Thanks for doing it for me.

@Blue Blue Room
Thank you for your lovely words in spite of my whinging. Really appreciate it. I guess the boards get to me because I'm not as agile at dodging them as I once was and it gets quite scary. So from my perspective barreldogs is quite correct.
I'm not sure where you live but here at the world's most famous beach the winter swimming is superb - relatively warm water, no crowds, brilliant crisp water quality, visibility like looking through glass. No blueys, lotsa fish and more time without waves to encourage the c----.

rogerdodger's picture
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rogerdodger Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 1:14pm

Yes Gomatix!! Nailed it mate. Being in the ocean IS a privilege and if you are still surfing at 50 years old plus....thank your lucky stars cos there are whole lotta of surfers who quite simply, can't.
I've just spent 3 hours reading all of the above posts and related to every one of them, as it seems most readers (particularly 50 years +) have.
As a 54 year old who has never lived any where near the beach, surfing has maintained my fitness and added to my zest for life. How you ask? I maintain my fitness by training at the gym and on the track with the thought of being physically and mentally ready for when the next arrival of a good swell rolls around. It may only happen once or twice a month (nothing for the last few months due to the lockdown) but I know I will have at least a certain level of fitness to enjoy the next session. In essence, even though I don't surf numerous times a day, seven days a week, surfing (or the thought of) has prolonged my life.
In addition to this, there is nothing better than preparing my gear the night before, then getting up pre sparrows fart, driving two or three hours and scoring good waves for two or three hours with nobody around (if not with one or two others), soaking up and appreciating the surroundings, feeling any pent up stress drain from my body and then reliving each wave on the drive home fizzing off your nut from endorphins. Gold.
Give up surfing? Fuck that.

aussieguy's picture
aussieguy's picture
aussieguy Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 10:00am

Nothing beats that pre-dawn paddle out and then sitting on your board watching the sun come up. I don't care how crap the surf is, just being in the environment is fulfilling. Give this up? I agree rodgerdodger, fuck that.

Mr Roach's picture
Mr Roach's picture
Mr Roach Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 1:33pm

Great subject matter, even greater responses.
My earliest memories of surfing are the late sixties, on the "Coolites". I remember me and my brother coated our feet in house paint to put footprints on our boards. I remember seeing that styrofoam shrinking into skin-removing sand paper. No rashies then, haha.
Dabbled in the game for the next 10 years or so, but took up a keen interest in mid twenties when I gave playing league away.
In the last forty odd years, the positives have far, far out weighed the negatives.
It's been a great sport, both physically and mentally. My son is 33 and keen as. We share the occasional surf, and he lets me in, whether he likes it or not. Like just about everyone here (and I've read em all).
The last few years have been harder. Bit of stiffness in the hips and lower back have made pop-ups harder (30 plus years of bricklaying hasn't helped). But the desire is still there.
Three days before Xmas, I had a bad work accident. (Broken pelvis, fractured vertebra, dislocated shoulder, and torn rotator cuff). You might say I'm having a gap year, but i'll be back in the new year they tell me. I've got a 6'8" single fin, used once (cloned off an old Free Flight of mine) in the rack looking at me, keeping me keen. I've never seen a definition of stoke. Is this what stoke is?
I intend to keep going. I'm gonna start off in the 2" slop on the mal, mingling with the mature age debutants, and hopefully work my way back into the game from there. At 65, it's not too late for a comeback is it?
Anyway got the 6" Alvey and surf rod out, cleaning them up after a fair lay-off (jeez they were a good reel weren't they?).
Anyway how's that for a fucken plan?
P.S. At the risk of creating a whole new thread, give me the choice of a free ticket to Bali or North Island NZ, and I'll take the North Island any day, done it heaps of times (both places).
NZ offers a road trip like no other, uncrowded waves and great people. When's the last time someone said to you "You take take first one bro, I'll get the next?

Oldbob's picture
Oldbob's picture
Oldbob Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 3:06pm

Long time lurker - first time poster. Thanks swellnet and the regular contributors for all of the great information I have benefited from during many years of watching.
My story? Similar to many previous submissions.
63yrs old having racked up my 50th year of standing up and riding waves (if you don't count a couple of summers on a coolight with timber twin fins jammed through). First legrope I saw was shire president John Hatton with a rope attached to a suction cap on the nose of his mal. We soon had our own hanky and shock cord tied to a hole in the fin. The Dog Collar.
Always lived 20-30 minutes from the nearest surf - hence my great appreciation of SN forecasters saving me heaps on petrol money and wasted time.
What is the secret to surfing longevity? I don't know, ask Filipe (Tomar that is). I surfed with him about 10 years ago at Roti. He was a paddling machine! 5 hour sessions were nothing to that septuagenarian. I know I don’t have his commitment to health.
I surf 2-3 times a week now I am retired but have had weeks - months off for various reasons familiar to many like travel, work, family, injury, illness…..had three hospital procedures just this year. I have never been a big wave charger or had a quiver of boards. I keep a board for 4 or 5 years. Never been the best surfer, just competent. I have two mates with the exact same story, still surfing. We joke about surfing for 50yrs and still no good!
Due to the stiffening pop-up, I am now on a 7.6 big volume 2+1 and loving the return of the single fin flow rather than the thruster pump.
Back on the thread. My observation is that the vast majority of “locals” I surfed with 40 years ago have disappeared. But why did those old local blokes quit? At the risk of generalising, I think it is attitude and gratitude. Without having the surf at my doorstep, I have always been grateful for any waves I can get and have maintained fitness away from the water so I’m ready when the opportunity comes. It is the grumpy locals with their entitled attitudes that give up when they are no longer ruling. I’ve seen plenty of former legends get overweight, swearing at every wave they miss, refusing to up the volume because their ego won’t allow it.
Not living at the beach, I have surfed several local spots a lot. I mean a lot! I go about my surfing quietly and with courtesy so the locals usually tolerate my presence. Luckily for me I can often surf by myself but in crowds I often have to self-regulate my wave count as I my local knowledge and experience (and board volume) has pissed off a few blowin locals if the froth takes over and I get greedy or just happen to be in the right spot more often than not. I try to think of the thousands? of waves I have had and give some to those more needy. Not that I’m an angel. I can be a selfish prick. Just ask my long suffering wife. Thanks again SN.

82shoes's picture
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82shoes Friday, 17 Sep 2021 at 2:29pm

"attitude and gratitude"
100% agree Oldbob! Not only in surfing but in life in general....
Just turned 60 and still an eternally frothing grom although the last 2 years have been a nightmare of disc pain and knee issues.
Reading some of the comments it sounds like many would benefit from Chris Mills' Surf Strength Program app. Top guy and makes heaps of sense, referencing this because of a previous article on here, "the surf coach you never thought you needed", at least i think that's what it was titled.....
Unfortunately I've always stretched but not strengthened, have to do both as we get older. "We" because unfortunately like it or not we all are for now.

Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs's picture
Fishlegs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 3:14pm

Catch the car ferry to Kororareka (Russell), head due east then follow the coast rd back to Auckland, don't forget to pick up the Kai Moana on the way, it's free.

Jockhobbs's picture
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Jockhobbs Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 3:39pm

“The Rubicon” not “a Rubicon”.

Pedantic behaviour aside it’s an interesting question.

It’s much harder to connect with your surfing after a lay off. The older you get the more you need to surf to maintain a certain personal standard. I have friends who have stated they’d give up if they couldn’t ride a HPSB anymore. These guys are mid 50’s and frankly they aren’t that great on them and never have been. It would be a shame if this type of delusional behaviour stopped them from maintaining a beautiful connection with the ocean and the peeps of all ages that share a common bond.

A note to us oldies. Teens and 20 something rippers don’t give a frogs fat arse what we are riding. They don’t give a frogs fat us about us. Most seem to just count us as snowies that enjoy a surf. Park your ego, stay fit, stay away when it’s pumping if you don’t have the fitness, muscle twitch fibre and the timing you once had….etc. and enjoy it.

Garden Gnome's picture
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Garden Gnome Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 6:15pm

59 years old, 52 of them surfing with a 7 year break when landlocked for work. I think that's why I surf so much now; I know the pain of being away from the surf. I have so many friends who don't surf any more. They need to know it's a great time to be an old fart; shapers are so good these days. Modern boards are so forgiving and easy to ride. I think Rob Machado said, 'Foam is your friend.' He's right.

CT110's picture
CT110's picture
CT110 Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:29pm

Buy a 2 stroke dirt bike and fumes will be ur friend.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 7:47pm

Buy a case of Coopers Sparkling and a half Oz of stinky and then you'll have a few friends.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Saturday, 11 Sep 2021 at 10:53pm

Well FR well written, certainly triggered a lot of deep seated sentiment that resides in all of us.

A conversation I have had with a mate for over 45 years is what will we do after surfing...

Both of us have never had an answer, maybe because we are in to deep, maybe there is no other path for our endeavour / feed back that gives feed back to our being, the warrior charging size beyond our capability, as one with in that moment of timeless barrel, the search, rising pulse accelerating through traffic knowing its on.

I mean what else the fuck in life gives you that?

Sure relationships, kids etc you would die for, but nothing gives the phsyic of a pumping size swell... nothing.

Quit, fuck off no way I am in to deep.

Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19 Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 8:47am

CraigFitz . I have made a comeback many times .

I have gone from no fitness to surfing 11 days in the Mentawi Is a few times .

I did a gym once and was surprised the weights were so heavy ( haha ) and don't like swimming in a pool .

I went to an old favourite beach and went through the pain of getting out each day . Slowly but surely my paddling improved and my pop ups got quicker . It took two weeks .

Then off to Indo and had a ball .

Living in Melb I could also head to the wavepool . 10 sessions there , some burpees each day and I think I would be also ready .

I have proved to myself on numerous occasions it can be done although it does get harder as I age .

Toppa's picture
Toppa's picture
Toppa Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 11:13am

I'm 59 sixty next June. I've surfed since I was 14, got fat for a few years in my late thirties and missed a few years raising kids, working six days a week, studying part time and kids sport training and competitions on weekends. By about 40 I got fit again and got back into it. In my early to mid 50's I made two trips to Indo realising a life long dream that I didn't have the time or finances to be able to manage at an earlier time. In 2018 at 55 I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, and I spent the whole of that year receiving chemo and recovering from surgery to remove most of my stomach and part of my oesophagus. I weighed approx 85 kgs prior to surgery and currently tip the scales at 65kgs. As a result of my surgery I cannot paddle in a prone position on a surfboard, so in 2019 I bought a surf sup. It brings me untold joy to paddle out usually to a spot on my own, or away from most other surfers. I'm now fit, doing some weights, walking and cycling when not in the surf. When you see an old bloke on a sup, ski, bodyboard etc. or anyone really, don't be too quick to make a judgement about a perceived inferior form of surfing, we just don't know what others have been through. Life is to be lived and riding my sup I am still just as stoked as I was in my 20's on a shorter board.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 3:42pm

Good onya Toppa. Get into it mate.

Toppa's picture
Toppa's picture
Toppa Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 3:45pm

Thanks Blowin, it's a great discussion point.

mANIMAL's picture
mANIMAL's picture
mANIMAL Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 11:16am

i hate crowds and this is probably only gona make it worse. wa gov has given the nod to southern hems biggest n flashiest newest wankfest wavepull.

from the www.aventuur.com website "Aventuur has been selected by the Western Australian Government to deliver a world-class surf park in Cockburn.
Our $80 million surf park is planned to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, sitting on a 5.7 hectare site at Prinsep Road in Jandakot, adjacent to the Kwinana Freeway and the Cockburn Central train station.

Featuring a next-generation Wavegarden Cove surfing lagoon, boutique surf hotel, health & wellness centre, co-working offices, functions and event spaces, performance academy, beach club and restaurants, our integrated development will provide Perth with an innovative surf sports, recreation, leisure and entertainment hub just a short drive south from the CBD.

Our dedicated team is stoked to bring a surf park to Cockburn, because the West deserves the best."

enjoy

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 12:52pm

location pronounced 'Coburn' for any non-sandgropers reading

Robwilliams's picture
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Robwilliams Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 11:33am

Seeing a person paddle out who used to be a regular, ripper or non ripper, who has been dealing with other stuff that comes along with life get's me stoked. You can see the stoke on their face just to be in the water. A small reflection to a time once taken for granted. Most of the old crew have done what we are doing now and some. Quitting is a personal decision but if the stoke is gone it's gone. Time for new adventures.
Just being able to take a dip is a blessing be it with board or not. Immersion has allot to offer be it only brief or long term. Satisfaction and achievement are an evolving journey were ever you may find it, but finding something that removes the mind and body from the stressors of life is the important thing, no matter how deep you choose to embrace it.

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 11:56am

Great prod, FR. Great responses, so many issues.

I think there are so many different interpretations of "surfing" that it's hard to know whether a lot of people actually really start surfing or really stop surfing. And within that lies the question of whether surfing is a sport, a religion, a way of life or whatever else people like to call it.

I categorise myself in the latter group - more adherent than participant. Which is not so say that those who subscribe to the sport label have it all wrong, just that I think there are two fundamentally different perspectives at play. My experience is that the adherents never stop surfing while the participants are more prone to giving it up. The adherents still find themselves mind-surfing every ripple on water, every curve on a surface, getting barrelled through the branches of the overhanging trees walking down the footpath. Of course that's just generalising and there are so many shades of grey it's almost silly trying to unpack it.

I think there's an implicit assertion in the article that quitting is a bad thing. I agree that it's a difficult concept to get your head around when you're in the thick of it, but to me it's all part of the journey. Are we meant to keep surfing in the first place?

And is "quitting" only applied to riding a shortboard and so-called high performance? There are so many ways to surf, and so many stunted views on what surfing is.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 12:53pm

Didn't quit today.
One day at a time.

eastcoastbuoy's picture
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eastcoastbuoy Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 4:41pm

First surf on first proper board 7'0 Weaver single fin at Whangamata Bar in 1977 - aged 8
Tried to surf on full polystyrene blue and red striped "surfboards" made by Skellerup for a few years in the 1970's and had to put mutton muslin cloth over the board to not get a rash.
Yesterday surfed a outer sand bank on the Northern beaches with 20 guys for 3 hrs straight, yes a few people, but most of them were just floating around and not staying on the "spot". As the tide dropped, offshore winds, blue water, the sandbank "bowl" started working a treat with surf pulsing. It was just one of those afternoons.
Ive had my fair share of non surfing injuries (rugby, motorbikes and horses mainly) days like yesterday (and many this year) just keep you coming back for more. Only a Surfer knows the Feeling or Life is a Beach couldn't be truer.

gsco's picture
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gsco Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 6:36pm

Is this possibly one of the most commented on articles on swellnet?

What a great read, that I only just found the time to do this Sunday evening.

I grew up as a skinny, sunburnt nosed, pimple faced, blonde haired, blue eyed kid on the Sunny Coast, surfing every day from a single digits age. I used to do ok in local boardriders comps in my teens and have travelled to many places surfing. I'd consider myself to be a well above average surfer and can generally hold my own in any lineup, in any conditions, and on any surfcraft.

I can safely say I surf as much now in my mid-late 40s as I ever did, except for my teens and early twenties due to my body's reducing ability to recover physically nowadays, and also due to the seemingly unlimited amount of stoke and enthusiasm of one's youth which I find hard to replicate in my middle ages.

But I've had quite a few periods of months and one time even a couple of years where I didn't surf at all, mostly due to job commitments requiring me to live away from the beach, but I admit also due to times where I simply lost the enthusiasm.

I've always been pretty good at maintaining my health and fitness from other means such as jogging, swimming/bodysurfing, light weights, etc, so have been fortunate to always be able to just jump in and start surfing regularly whenever I wanted. I've never had any bad injuries that kept me out of the water for extended periods, although my lower back does play up a little bit here and there.

Most importantly I believe, I'm 6ft tall and have never let my bodyweight get above 80kg EVER (apart from when I was in my mid 20s and right into lifting heavy weights, which doesn't count here). I've noticed that even when I don't maintain great fitness, just keeping my bodyweight down by not overeating makes the most difference. I'm about 76kg right now.

One thing I've noticed is whenever I have a period of not surfing, when I do get back in the water even just one surf seems to "do something to me" that no other sport or activity does and I always remark to myself to never forget this feeling of wellbeing that surfing gives, and I always think about the Billabong line of only a surfer knows the feeling.

However, in agreement with the article, all of this this is not the case for most of my friends I grew up surfing with. Most of them gave surfing away quite a while ago. I would say that out of the small gang of say 15 mates that I closely grew up, surfed and travelled with over a decent period of time in my youth, only two still surf regularly, but both also have also had long periods where they didn't surf at all. One of the guys that still surfs is easily the best surfer out of us all and should have made it as a pro, but even he once went for a period of about 5 years where he didn't surf at all.

The main reasons I've noticed for most of my old mates dropping off from surfing is work and family commitments combined with letting their fitness go (often from injuries), but also combined with...how do I say it...letting a general attitude and perspective of negativity, pessimism and "vitriol" overtake their emotional makeup and outlook in life. Honestly over the past decade (or two) most of them have taken to a pattern of behaviour of just sinking piss, eating junk food and endlessly complaining about society and the overall world, instead of continuing to live life, try new things, and grow as human beings.

It seems very easy to let a general sense of negativity overtake oneself and one's life. I'd say I've observed that this is the main reason why the people I know stopped surfing.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:26pm

so many interesting perspectives, including that one GSCO.

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Jockhobbs Sunday, 12 Sep 2021 at 7:57pm

Loving the Swellnet Covid clickbait articles from Shearer and co.

It’s pub table talk we don’t currently have..

Keep up the good work boys.

Lol

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Fishlegs Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 12:23am

This aint twitty, facey, snappy or what ever thing the smart people are inventing to try and divert our attention, and that's why this thread is gold. I go through my daily routine take the dog's for a run and swim down the beach and in those times I've been ruminating on this thread, ya know chew the cud in the brain
Dogs are digging holes in the sand, chasing each other around while I check the rhythm of the ocean, It was then I remembered the first rule "you can't fight against the ocean" just go with it. Maybe it's a metaphor for our surfing life.
I broke my leg out at DY Point in 99 (I was 35) in the months of recovery, Occy wins the 1999 ASP World title, well didn't that put a cracker up me arse. Went to the local surf shop and bought a copy of occy the occumentary, next day started doing the Nth to Sth soft sand walk at Curly. Exactly the inspiration a budding couch potato needed.
So maybe like the rhythm of the ocean, our surfing life has the same ebb and flow. You just find another way to participate, hang the boards on the wall and reminisce or have another go out and see what happens and go from there.
Up the Fkn Swellnetians/Swellians.

D-Rex's picture
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D-Rex Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 9:25am

On a similar tangent to gsco, perhaps one reason many quit is that it eats into time available to write on these forums!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 9:57am

brettdavis59's picture
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brettdavis59 Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 11:29am

phew took a llllooonnngggg time to get here...and to get to 62 last month. Still surfing my 5'10" DP Gus model fish, the shortest board I ever surfed and the oldest I ever been. But I have been blessed with some pretty lean genes. Seen so many give up. Yes health, crowds, location, injury all there, but I also wonder about identity. Is my enjoyment of surfing based on my identity in the water or even worse my performance? I been in decline performance wise for 40 years, am way further down the food chain, but have discovered you can still find joy cheering the next generation on, catching more conversations than waves, lingering longer around the car park, being satisfied with lesser quality waves. Knowing you are loved and loving others sure helps instead of defining myself by my surfing alone. Great comments here.....just had to give up a surf session to get the the end of all this......thanks stunet moving it along

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AndyM Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 1:00pm

I did my best to quit.

Found myself at a loose end about 15 years ago and hopped a boat overseas.

Ended up being away maybe nine years all up, based in some of the most surfless places in the world that were still on salt water, from south Florida to the Med, from the Seychelles to the Baltic Sea.

Got into a lot of different stuff trying to fill my spare time.

There was martial arts in Florida, France and Italy.

But it wasn’t surfing.

Gave skiing a real good go. Came to the conclusion that, on average, a day’s skiing was better than a day surfing.

But I was still always looking for the big wall to bank off at high speed, the bowl to hook into.
Everything was measured in surfing terms.

And it became clear that even waist-deep powder on a bluebird day still doesn’t compare to taking off and seeing a six foot wave drawing off the bank and starting to wrap, walling up in front of you for hundreds of metres.

Skiing can be epic but even on those primo days, it’s still not surfing.

Been back in Oz for maybe six or seven years now, and it’s been a steep learning curve to surf competently again.

Different, bigger, thicker boards. Lots of work on fitness.

Never been a shredder and never will but I’m happy enough with where I’m at.

Surfing’s still not the be all and end all but it’s back at the top of my repertoire.

Will be for a fair while yet.

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velocityjohnno Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 8:39pm

Andy that's a solid comeback, nice work. Know what you mean about the snow, see a right wall and just cannot stop self doing 180 slide off the lip of the thing while everyone else does snowboard tricks.

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AndyM Tuesday, 14 Sep 2021 at 11:15am

Thanks VJ.

Yeah it was tough going for a while, I remember my first few surfs back, up at empty peaks at The Spit on the Goldie.

Quite dispiriting when you know your cardio is good but your body (and board) just don't do what you want them to.

The nuance and finesse (relatively speaking) were gone, and the ego took a battering.
But there was no question of not getting back on the horse, that just wouldn't abide, plus just sitting on the headland talking about the old days would wear thin quick.

Spent a fair bit of time riding a heavily-rockered performance mal out at Currumbin - fun, but not where I wanted to be.
Ended up with a mini-quiver of chunky boards around the 6'10" mark (I'm 6'3") which do the job nicely.
Probably the main issue was confidence, having the confidence in my strength and flexibility to nail those critical takeoffs.
I reckon the psychological game was the hardest, especially closing in on 50 years old.

Hope you're getting some waves mate.

Vince Neil's picture
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Vince Neil Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 1:51pm

Annual Indo trips are/were a huge motivating factor.
You can find motivation everywhere...even a crowded break with rippers can inspire you (to get away from the crowds ;-) )

ndjen's picture
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ndjen Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 8:17pm

I think people maintain most activities for 2 reasons:

1. A physical or aesthetic pleasure that is addictive AND 2. it is part of their self concept. It defines who they are.

The pleasure can fade once the peak experience has been reached. The waves don't get better after THAT trip. The ski runs can't beat THAT one etc.

We can also redefine ourselves as something else. That is the hard one. We fight accepting the longer board, the loss of skill, the growing physical limits. We go down swinging.

But life goes on. I was selected for military flight training as a young lad and turned it down. Even though I breathed flying. What if my vision degraded? I went for a safer career instead and learned to fly at 35. Owned a few planes. Pranged some over the decades. Went to very remote areas all the time.

I defined myself as a pilot and thought it was special. I learned aerobatics and challenged myself over the years. For ages I breathed flying and never forgot that experience of first solo. You have the ability to do something humans dreamed of for thousands of years. The freedom. The view, The power and control.

But I slowly lost all that. You become a weekend basher doing the same old stuff because you define yourself as a pilot. There were no more goals I could afford.

And in the end my self glorification as a pilot was just a wank. Most people can learn to fly a plane competently if they want to. Some can do it brilliantly but the world is filled with people who could not care less. Seriously I have asked friends if the plane they were on had propellers, They don't know. They will ooh and ahhh at an airshow but the world doesn't stop when the egos land at the end of the day. They order a chinese meal on the way home and care much more about the curry chicken.

In short, once the learning/experience curve has nowhere to go and our pleasure hit dries up then
we look elsewhere for it. In the process we will inevitably have to redefine a part of our identity.

In a sense, those late to surfing are more likely to last into their later years even if physical limitations are growing. They may have stronger motivation to keep going while adjusting for their physical limits.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 8:42pm

ndjen all the flying would have given you some excellent views. As a candidate for the surfer's ultimate aircraft, imagine flitting atoll to atoll in one of these:

http://republicseabee.com/

There's also some light aircraft that can take off/land in a very short distance, perfect for isolated beaches but I forget the names

ndjen's picture
ndjen's picture
ndjen Monday, 13 Sep 2021 at 9:04pm

Landing anything off a runway will always have a greater risk. Beaches can have soft spots, hidden rocks. It can suddenly be a very bad day. Amphibians have all the problems of boats- they leak and your runway has currents, logs, sea creatures. Then there is the corrosion. I once read that most float planes get 3 hours of washing for each hour of flying. Could be right.

I did land on remote beaches but a great adventure can turn into a nightmare where all of a sudden your very expensive plane is upside down or just stuck on an incoming tide. A mate had en engine failure that took him into mangroves. One very rapid and expensive helicopter slinged him out before the tide.

What is it- if flies, floats or fornicates--- rent it.

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marcus Tuesday, 14 Sep 2021 at 9:21pm

I like riding big bombies. I moved to a new city some 16 years ago. I would surf the big scary bombie any chance I could.
No one would join me.
Almost every time I surfed it the cops would be called by onlookers.
The lifeguards discouraged me from surfing it as they were worried about kids copying me.

So every swell I'd drive 3 hours to shark island where I'd get it usually to my self on stormy days.

But then a mate bought a farm in the mountains.

I go there for solitude to sleap by a fire and fish for trout and pan for gold.

I take my daughter bodysurfing occasionally. But if the surf is massive I just get angry I cant surf my bombie anymore.

Occasionally I still go at night to be alone. Thats nice.
I can surf my way with no rules at night.
I can sit as deep as I like and ride any board I like.

But I look forward to the mountains. I dont look forward to the ocean as much

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paintingsofwaves Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021 at 4:54pm

I don't plan on stopping with surfing anytime soon: although I haven't been surfing all my life, I have always had a connection with the sea: used to windsurf until uni started, then fell into a climbing episode and picked up surfing after to many injuries sidelined me from climbing. THe windsurfing helped me, my age (39yo at the time I picked up surfing) hindered me. I'm no great surfer by any stretch but love it to bits. Picking up surfing felt like coming back home.

Alas a (non surfing related) shoulder injury might be my downfall in time. During surgery the doc noticed level 3 - 4 (4 being highest) arthritis. So my surfing days may be limited... at least I got my kids into it (surfing wth them is a blast) and I found another love for the ocean through painting. So hoping my connection to the water will never fade should my body start failing me. And until then my stoke is high!

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paul.ruth Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 10:24pm

Marriage and familycan kill surfing as well.

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mattlock Friday, 17 Sep 2021 at 2:09pm

I don't surf much these days [ I'm 54 with two kids under 8 yrs, one not even at school yet] but I'm never going to quit.

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mickseq Friday, 17 Sep 2021 at 5:15pm

Im in my forties single no kids and have a business thats run under management, so I pretty much can go surf and stay anywhere in the world anytime (prior coivd), but usually i just go to Indo because I love the people and food and there are lots of secret spots with low or no crowds. I could never see myself doing anything else. To be honest it surprises me more people dont do it, I have a few friends that have set up their lives in the same way and they are all very happy. Of course it take a few years of sacrifice but in the end its like a dream come true, especially if you're in your 30's or40's.

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julesblack Saturday, 18 Sep 2021 at 10:18am

People give up surfing because they can't perform as well as they expect of themselves.I always remember my music tutor telling me to aim lower.I guess my local breaks are going to have to put up with another old fart tumbling down the wave of the day.I won't ever stop surfing because i don't expect to much of myself anymore.

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Yamba Saturday, 25 Sep 2021 at 6:58am

You forgot to mention border lock outs!!!!

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Blowin Saturday, 25 Sep 2021 at 7:49am

400 comments.

Well done Freeride

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zenagain Saturday, 25 Sep 2021 at 9:08am

401

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BigMalG Tuesday, 12 Oct 2021 at 10:57am

Beaut article. Only just read it (backlog of reading I'm catching up with). At 60 I'm still surfing regularly at my local around the Bilgola bends. I love it but it take a lot of effort some days. Keep up the great work Swellnet !

udo's picture
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udo Monday, 18 Oct 2021 at 8:59am
blindboy's picture
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blindboy Monday, 18 Oct 2021 at 12:25pm

Some great comments back there. At 69 my view is purely utilitarian. I will continue as long as it is fun and contributes to my well being........unless of course, given the amount of surfing I have done, I get distracted into doing something more interesting.