Surfing, although considered an extreme sport, is more of a lifestyle than simply about riding waves.
As time goes on we get older, but our love for surfing (or intrigue) does not stop there.
Best Surfboards for Older Surfers:
Although seasoned surfers may still be ripping up the waves on a performance board in their later years, older surfers often benefit from using longer, wider surfboards with more volume.
Through this article, we will take a look at what the best surfboards are for older surfers, as well as some commonly asked questions regarding surfing in your later years.
Table of Contents
What Are the Best Style Surfboards for Older Surfers?
As we age, our body begins to become tired, we can no longer run for as long, lift weight as heavy, pop up as fast, or paddle with as much power.
This is why older surfers tend to lean towards using larger surfboards with more volume.
Surfboards that are best suited for older surfers include longboards, Minimals, and fun boards designed to aid with paddling.
That being said, if you are fit and healthy enough, there is no reason why you can’t continue riding your shortboard.
Larger boards simply require smaller waves, are easier to paddle on, easier to stand on, as well as require less power when paddling onto a wave.
Foam Boards (Best for Beginners)
Another perfect foam top board ideal for beginner older surfers is the Malibu beginners board from Kona Surf Co. Has the volume, width, and soft top that makes for safer and easier surf lessons.
The board includes 3 thruster fins and a high-quality ankle leash which means all you’ll need is a wetsuit and you're ready to go.
Longboards (Best Overall)
When it comes to cold school surfers, there’s no board shaped like a longboard that suits their grace better.
The Long Haul from Gerry Lopez is an outstanding longboard and is a perfect match for older surfers.
The wide nose creates an added surface area which makes planning along the surface of the ocean as easy as ever. This makes standing on the nose a much easier task.
Although it’s a longboard, the square tail makes pivoting easier so that you don’t lose too much control.
Possibly Donald Takayama’s most innovative surfboard design yet, the Beach Break Tuflite is designed for performance and speed all while adding stability and volume.
As an older surfer, you are likely familiar with Donald Takayama and know that there are not many surfboard shapers of the same class.
Minimals (Best for Performance)
Even though you might be reaching your later years, because you’ve been surfing for a while, your body is likely still conditioned to face some grueling surf.
To move from your performance board to a 9-foot longboard can seem like a slightly big jump, which is why a minimal is the perfect in-between.
The Little Darlin came from the “cheater” board, and is shorter than a longboard which aids in performance, but has enough volume to add some paddle assistance.
Recognized worldwide as a manufacturer of both expertly designed and innovative surfboards, Classic Malibu has become a go-to for longboards and minimals.
The Camel surfboard provides a little extra length and width than its similar counterpart “The Retro Egg”, as well as redefines the design with a double concave tail.
This is a perfect board for older surfers who are not quite ready to sacrifice the speed and agility that comes with the stability of a longboard.
Fun Boards (Best for Experienced Surfers)
If you have been surfing for years it is likely that you’ve tried out multiple different board designs as each board brings something different to the table.
Funboards, such as the Plunder Futerflex from Hayden Shapes, is a funboard that is perfect for all ages.
This short-length board (6 feet) has added volume and a rounded nose which helps with buoyancy, as well as stability, all while providing maximum speed thanks to its flat rocker and optional four-fin setup.
Perfect for beach and point break surf, the Biscuit surfboard is not for the faint of heart.
Although it has volume, the Biscuit is fast, short, and loose while riding, which makes it suitable only for seasoned surfers.
Older surfers may enjoy this board as it provides a lot of the thrill as a shortboard, but aids with paddling and planning on the water.
Is It Possible to Learn to Surf When You’re Old?
Learning to surf can be tough, but once you have mastered it, there aren’t many comparable feelings in the world.
If you’ve been planning on learning to surf for a while and feel as though your better years are behind you, you may think it’s too late to learn to surf, but the truth is, it’s not.
Yes, your body might not be what it used to be, but with the correct surfboard, a good instructor, good swell, and a bit of patience, you’ll be standing up and riding along the face of a wave in no time.
Surfing is for all ages, and being a senior does not mean that you are too old to learn.
How Old Is Too Old to Surf?
The truth is, there is no age limit on surfing. If your body is healthy enough, you have enough energy, and you possess the willpower, you could be surfing well into an age where many others aren’t even able to walk.
For example, Seichi Sano, a Japanese surfer, began his surfing adventure at the age of 80.
Maintaining a healthy diet, regular stretching routines, getting enough sleep, mindfulness practices, and regular exercise will all contribute to how long you’ll be able to surf before putting your boards away for good.
Who Is the Oldest Surfer?
To accurately state who the oldest surfer is would be impossible as there are an estimated 35-million surfers in the world, as well as many who have not been counted.
That being said, there are a few iconic granddads and grandmoms of surfing who have remained on their boards far into their gray-haired days,
A Japanese surfer and one of the world’s oldest active surfers began surfing at the age of 80 and continues to enjoy the pleasures of the ocean.
A Capetonian granny that has not let age get in the way of her lifestyle was still surfing at the age of 70.
Bernie has surfed since she was 19 years old and was not ready for her hip replacement, nor her age to get in the way of doing what she loves.
Kelly Slater is one of the oldest competitive surfers in the world. At age 50 he is still shredding up the waves and finding himself in the top rankings when competing against surfers 20 years younger than him.
Although Kelly isn’t the oldest surfer, nor the oldest competing surfer, he is the oldest competitor in his class.
Barry McGuigan, “Magoo”
Magoo is a legend among non-other and truly showed how surfing can last a lifetime.
Although he passed at the age of 85 in 2014, Barry McGuigan competed up until the year of his death.
Fighting Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and old age did not get in the way of Barry’s surfing and yoga, which may be the reason he was able to compete for so long.
Is Surfing Dangerous for Old People?
Surfing is always a dangerous sport and should be done only when you understand the risks that it involves.
The ocean is powerful and can be unpredictable, surfboards are hard, fins are sharp, the ocean floor can cut you to shreds, and that’s all before we consider other clueless surfers with reckless habits.
That being said, if you follow the correct surf etiquette, surfing becomes a much safer situation.
As we get older our bones to become softer, our muscles lose endurance, and our recovery takes longer.
This is why older surfers should always take extra precautions in the water.
If there are many other surfers or the waves are particularly rough, you may want to sit this one out.
That being said, if you are a senior surfer with years of experience and all the confidence in the world then surfing is far less dangerous for you than it is for a younger beginner surfer.
The Benefits of Surfing When You Are Old
Surfing has several benefits, both for our physical health, as well as our mental stability.
As we get older it is important to stay active, but doing so can be difficult as our joints can take less stress and our muscles begin to lose power.
This is why surfing is such an amazing sport for seniors, and lucky for you, surfing is as addictive as schedule one drugs. Through a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercises, surfing is an all-round workout that can benefit the old in the following ways:
- Increase muscle strength from paddling, riding, and popping up.
- Increase muscle responsiveness by keeping your body active.
- Increased mental alertness from analyzing waves, rides, and navigating sections.
- Enhanced mood thanks to endorphins and dopamine.
- Boost the immune system from remaining active.
- Improved skin quality from the ocean water.
- More energy thanks to activated vitamin B from the sun.
- Prevent boredom as we age.
7 Tips for Senior Beginner Surfers
If you’re a senior and you are looking at getting into surfing, you may feel a bit nervous and not too sure where to start.
Lucky for you, getting into surfing in your later years is much simpler than you think, and by following the tips below, you’ll be standing on a surfboard in no time.
1. Use The Correct Surfboard
Although older experienced surfers may still be ripping it up on performance boards, as a new senior surfer you want to make sure you choose a surfboard with enough volume and size.
The more surface area and volume your surfboard has, the less effort you will need to paddle and the easier it will be to stand up and remain standing.
2. Choose the Correct Break
Just as with any new surfer, you should learn to surf in calm waters with small waves breaking over a sandy beach.
This limits the chances of something going wrong, as well as provides you with the most opportunity to get standing.
As an older surfer, you should follow the same rules, as well as avoid crowded beaches.
That being said, you should still choose a break with others in the water in case something goes wrong.
3. Get Surfing Lessons
Yes, it’s true that you can learn to surf without surf lessons, and many surfers do, but paying for a few lessons will drastically increase the speed at which you learn to stand up, turn your board, as well as your paddling technique.
Surf lessons are sometimes costly but they will save you hours of falling.
As an older beginner, the extra person will aid you in generating speed for waves, help you choose the correct surfboard, and maintain a level of safety in the water.
4. Make Surfing Friends
Just because you’re older than most of the surfers in the water, doesn’t mean you can’t make friends.
It is always helpful to make friends who surf as they will help you with advice, watch your back in case something goes wrong, and all-around improve your surfing experience.
As an older surfer, meeting people in the water is particularly important as you may need help if conditions quickly change.
5. Cover-Up Properly
Using the correct wetsuit is always important, but keep in mind that as we get older we lose the ability to regulate our temperature as well as we could in our youth.
This means that you may find yourself quickly getting cold when following the recommended wetsuit style and thickness for the water temperatures you surf in.
You may want to consider using a slightly thicker wetsuit when surfing in cooler water.
Furthermore, protection from the sun is equally important and so sunscreen, a hat, and a rash vest (if surfing without a wetsuit) should all be used to protect your skin from the harsh UV rays from the sun.
6. Stretch Every Day
Flexibility is key to longevity. Keeping your muscles loose will increase your recovery time, as well as reduce your chances of injury.
Although surfing is practiced in water, it sometimes comes with some hard knocks and awkward twists.
Being older with stiff muscles in this position can lead to serious damage.
7. Know Your Limits
It’s important to listen to our bodies as they can tell us a lot about our health. As we get older it’s important for us to pay attention to how our bodies react, what they need, and when they are being overworked.
Yes, surfing is incredibly healthy for us as we get older, however, over-exerting ourselves can lead to serious health implications.
It is always important to know our limits and to stick to them.
Surfing is for all ages, and there is no reason why you can’t learn to surf as you reach your later years.
Older surfers benefit from using longer, wider surfboards with more volume. This helps plane across the surface of the ocean with ease, taking some of the effort out of paddling.
Furthermore, larger surfboards with greater surface areas are more stable and easier to stand on.
That being said, if you have been surfing your entire life, there is no reason why you can’t be shredding up the waves on a fun board or performance board until your final days.