You, Aging And Surfing

Discussion in 'Surfing' started by Veterano, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. Veterano

    Veterano Well-Known Member

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    How has aging affected your surfing? By that I mean the experience of surfing, your performance surfing, your injury frequency, etc. And what have you learned and how have you coped?

    I'll start.
    I get hurt more often and easier. I have learned to be more aware of this and make some changes and concessions.
    The level of how I surf has been dropping steadily. I have learned to let a lot of shvt go. Like I'm NOT going to get the "wave of the day" anymore. And my wave count does not matter either. These has been the hardest for me. But I've learned a whole new mindset on what constitutes a good session. And it does not take much. All I have to do is leave my ego on the beach.
    How I feel about fellow surfers has changed dramatically. I mean strangers, not people I know. I feel as my proficiency has dropped, my credibility to dictate has too. I do not care anymore if some visitor is taking more than their share of waves and breaching simple etiquette, a younger guy at my local can handle it. I talk to everyone, I no longer have a dog in that fight. I just want to slide one or two.
    So how about you guys? I know there's more than couple of seniors on here. Chime in.

    -2019, age 69. Trim till you can't anymore!
    [​IMG]
     
    WillieP, kclibman, cjdubs7 and 38 others like this.
  2. sightpoint

    sightpoint Well-Known Member

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    Rad. My hat is off to all of you older folks on here who are still in the water. Just turned 50, and I feel like Vet summed up where my mind is. I just have other priorities that are more important than feeling like I measured up to anyone else in the water. The whole process of going surfing and being in the water is healing and calming and great, and I'm fine with surfing a lesser spot if I can have more room. I'm also an older guy with a newish kid, so surfing frequency has dropped a lot.

    My last really fun session was on a tiny but clean day, surfing a longer Simmons (shout out to Freddiebetts and Larry Mayo). Seeing dolphins, having a float on my back on the outside and feeling weightless, watching the sun come up... as good as any wave I caught that day or maybe even that month.
     
  3. Chilly Willy

    Chilly Willy Well-Known Member

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    Good topic. Not sure if it's too early for younger folks to chime in, but here's me at 42: I have started to notice an increase in limitations... but that's 99% mental and only maybe 1% physical. My past experiences and lessons learned have given me the general tendency to be more cautious and take less risks. I have a sharper eye for spotting conditions that are out of my comfort zone, especially as it applies to the board/s I've got with me. It has nothing to do with inability because I will usually do pretty well if I sink my teeth into it and surf more like the hunter and less like the hunted. (Someone here said that once a while back and it has really stuck with me.)

    I overcome those mental limitations in a few ways. (1) Thinking FEAR = Focus Energy Around Routine. (Thanks, Donnie Darko... I modified it a bit for surfing.) Rather than letting fear set in when a looming set appears on the horizon, I remember that I've duck dived or turned turtle successfully under thousands of waves. Allocating that energy to following each of the step of my turtle/duckdive routine usually results in better success, and I'm not letting my oxygen get consumed by panic. (2) If it's a bit bigger but beyond the range that I want to surf, I'll try to at least paddle out on a boog. I can duck dive those like crazy, and it helps stave off the habit of giving up and getting scared off anytime things get a little more challenging. (3) If it's really a whomper of a day and I really know I won't have fun out there, I have learned to know my limits and not be afraid to admit it. The challenge is balancing those things and not letting myself give up too easily.
     
  4. Patrick Riley

    Patrick Riley Well-Known Member

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    I'm also 42 and after dealing with a bad neck injury and recovery, I can say that just recently I have felt some limitations. A lot of those limitations are similar to what @Chilly Willy eluded to in the sense that they are probably more mental than anything. I'm also in a bit of a weird space in the sense that I quit drinking a few years ago and was noticing an increase in my surfing frequency and efficiency after. There was no doubt about the number of sessions missed and lackluster performance even when I would make it to the water, being hung over and not even realizing it. I actually feel my surfing has improved and only wonder how much better it would have been had I made this change 20 years ago, but I'm not living in the past.

    I've made a lot of lifestyle changes to prolong my surfing longevity which include yoga, stretching, some strength training etc. I think the biggest change I have made that has helped me stay healthy is surfing more. Not catching more waves per session, but not being so picky about conditions and also being willing to travel to find good surf. Being in Florida with such little windows of good swell and wind it's easy to become sedentary or write off surfing when conditions aren't optimal. But I have been getting in my truck and driving to spots within a couple hours a way just to change scenery, or find better winds and it has paid off huge. It's great to get out and explore and I find a 2 hour ride alone in my truck to be quite satisfying, either listening to music, podcasts, or just silence.

    I've also become more apt to go for quality over quantity. I'm very satisfied if I get 3 really good waves in a session. Sometimes I get more, but I would much rather sit out the back and wait for the good ones than up my count on the inside. I've also enjoyed surfing more varied equipment. I have always been pretty open minded with surf craft but that was usually limited to Longboards and shortboards and didn't really explore the range between.

    I guess the older I get the more I look forward to hopefully being able to enjoy real sessions with my now 8 and 10 year old girls. I want to be able to travel with them and have them enjoy good surf with me. I learned early not to push any activity on them and they are slowly finding their way on to boards of their own free will.
     
  5. Bruce Fowler

    Bruce Fowler Well-Known Member

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    Nice shot.
    For me my demise came unexpectedly early. I had surfed respectable Sunset then came home and was in a horrible single vehicle car accident up a lonely stretch of road near Summerland...... basically found 'dead' with my Toyota truck wrapped around a telephone pole with my head punched thru the windshield. "Oh what a feeling" to quote Toyota Corporation.

    "This guy's gone said one EMT to the other responding to the crash that night, and the other guy said, "oh shit, I know this guy, we gotta try to revive him....they found the faintest discernible beat of my heart then it was off to the now extinct St. Francis Hospital (same place I was born in 1951) on the Santa Barbara "Riviera".

    To make a very long story short (there's no such thing with me), at 38 after two years of very determined self designed therapy after being released from being given a less than one percent chance of survival from "severe brainstem trauma" I had taught myself how to walk again before trying a paddle out in Rincon Cove on my favorite 8'4" "Top Gun" sled that hd always allowed me to rule over the Jalama crowd on big days at "Tarantula's". Not anymore.... it became apparent my shining days were over, and it was all I could do to lift my still paralyzed right arm up to clear the water.

    From my first right slide at the "Sand Bar" (aka SB Sandspit) in 1959 to that fatal night in August 1990, my surfing 'career' was all but over. I tried numerous times to make a comeback, but part of the residual effects of my injury included paralysis in all four of my limbs (I had been quadriplegic & in very deep coma for days after the crash), and my balance was forever changed with what my neurologist referred to as "mid line shift".......... in simple terms, you're knocked off your rocker.

    I never gave up though, and basically became a seeker in every orthodox and alternative healing modality known to man. When I was released from the SB Rehab Institute I was sent home labeled "severely disabled". I had managed to begin to walk again the two months I was there, but I couldn't work a simple screwdriver if it depended on my life.

    The available information on such traumatic head injuries was painfully scarce, and it didn't help that I was like a ninety year old Alzheimer's patient from the extreme amount of incessant nerve pain that kept me awake at night and throughout the day. I would only fall asleep after reaching a point of exhaustion before starting the cycle all over again.

    I did manage to make a comeback though, and a lot of this stuff will be in my autobiography. Far too extensive to go into here about how I reclaimed my life against all odds. Suffice to say I feel for EVERYONE that is currently part of "Team Arthritis" or dealing with lower back problems, hip replacements gone wrong, rotator cuff or knee limitations....

    It seems like sooo much of what we deal with as we age is due to INFLAMMATION. The correct diet, stretching, yoga, breathing, is all related to good health as well as 'good genes'.

    A large part of it is also mental. I had to will myself to the road for recovery after I was processed out of the system. At one point I read that most people in my situation stopped making gains at around 4 months. My reaction to that was to have my body builder friend Eric Akiskalian (well known tow in surfer) take me to La Playa Stadium at SB City College. I had gotten 5 lb. leg weights I had been wearing trying to make me get stronger. I had him block me going up the 108 stairs by the bleachers with the weights on....... up, then down, up then down, until I was ready to heave. That, was my response to the suggestion that I wouldn't improve beyond 4 months.

    I had to learn how to walk before I could shape again. I developed new methods in my shaping to compensate for certain impaired motor skills. I became evem more disciplined in my shaping than I had before. At one point I told Wayne Rich that I feared I had peaked in 1989 during all my sailboard years. He said "that's a heavy thought to have to deal with". But I kept going and refused to quit.

    You are well advised to put your surfing in a comfortable place rather than crashing & burning like some of the early day surfers have. Quite a few of the early day guys in Santa Barbara that used to shine on waves ended up alcoholics, or found dead in a bathroom stall at the harbor, or just wasted away on the drug of their choice.

    Be happy for what you have rather than unhappy for what you don't have.

    Peace.
     
    Tmw, WillieP, tcroose and 26 others like this.
  6. Patrick Riley

    Patrick Riley Well-Known Member

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    Wow @Bruce Fowler truly inspiring story and I'm so glad to hear you are still with us after beating those odds. Thank you for putting so much in perspective and truly great words and story of adaptation. Thank you.
     
    Bruce Fowler likes this.
  7. Planktom

    Planktom Well-Known Member

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    I'm 46.

    I have a much more relaxed relationship with surfing now and am much more accepting of conditions, my own energy/pain/mindset.

    At 26, I used to surf to expel excess energy and the vocab I used in my head reflected this... 'attackthe lip, gouge the face, smash the end section...' Yada yada... Now, I surf to recharge my batteries, pretty much.

    Also, it takes just one or two waves that run to make me quite satisfied.

    I notice that I also get a lot of satisfaction if someone else gets a good wave, strangers as well as friends. Not that I never did, it just seems that I notice more nowadays maybe... Who knows.
     
  8. Planktom

    Planktom Well-Known Member

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    @Bruce Fowler some good advice there

    I loved watching Shane Herring in the early 90s, would be great to see him back in the sea again
     
    DJR likes this.
  9. Chilly Willy

    Chilly Willy Well-Known Member

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    Feb 15, 2004
    USA New Jersey
    @Bruce Fowler -- Wow! Heavy.

    I just wanted to add some positive notes of 42: (1) I have finally found the joy in dawn patrol and try to hit it as much as I can. It's a really special time and great way to start your day. Plus, so many amazing sessions have ended at exactly the time I used to paddle out. (2) I also have far more gratitude than I did in my younger years. Every sunrise, sunset, every sea sparkle or funky bird that flies overhead, all those other scenes that become mental photographs. I notice all of these things and bank them for later. (ie. I have a handful of tube rides that I like to picture when I sit down in my least favorite place, the dentist's chair.) You never know when life will get in the way and you will be out of the water for a while.
     
  10. Planktom

    Planktom Well-Known Member

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    Having gone through a similar experience with skateboarding as a result of getting older, albeit at an earlier age - maybe 30ish - I think it prepared me for an inevitable change with my relationship to surfing.

    I resisted the change with skating, and tried to keep pushing myself at the same level I did when I was in my teens and 20s, but it was folly really... Couple of surgeries here and there and you get knocked back. I lost my drive to carry on as I had a preconception of what I 'should' have been skating like.

    It took a few years, but I eventually let go and started having fun again.

    I'd love to imagine myself as Doc Ball, rolling down the street at 90yrs, but that's pretty unrealistic for 99% of the population.

    We are lucky in as much that you can still surf at a decent age, as Tim has clearly shown in the first post, as long as you look after your brain and body.

    I am watching those who surf into their 70s and 80s and will listen to what they have to say, as I can't imagine not surfing TBH.
     
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