Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Saturday, September 26, 2015

eight pertinent points to ponder for the older surfer

I found this post from a senior surfer turning 68 in a couple of weeks, and here’s what he's come to accept as he ages: (the link is at the end of the post)

1.  I need more volume than ever. As far as wave-catching goes at a crowded, competitive point-break, volume is the great equalizer. At a certain point, EPS/Epoxy becomes the core/shell of choice, despite its extra cost.

2.  I need more nose rocker than ever. Despite my daily dose of push-ups, sit-ups and stretching, I get to my feet slower than at any other time in my life. Those quick-twitch muscles have gone to the same place as my short-term memory. A little extra nose-rocker buys me the added time I need.

3.  Sometimes, one good wave is enough. Especially on a big, heavy day…nothing wrong with one-and-done.

4. Tail-V, especially on LBs, is the path to “performance”. Turning ability is the cornerstone of performance by anyone’s standard. Having a shape that turns responsively allows the rider to do more than just trim.

5.  Sometimes just trimming is all I want to do.

6.  I must focus on my current abilities and disabilities, and shape to that. Doesn’t matter what I use to ride, not 30 yrs ago, not 10yrs ago, not even last year.

7.  Doesn’t matter how old or how young you are, how well or how poorly you surf, how good your equipment or how bad your equipment is, somebody is probably going to drop in on you. Get over it….

8.  Some days, its better to just go fishing. Surfing on small days, weekends, holidays, DOH+ days carry a much higher probability for frustration and disappointment. Don’t need it, don’t want it.

- See more at:

Monday, August 31, 2015

age - it sneaks up on you!

Swaylocks, the website where I serve as a moderator, is the foremost surfboard design and construction forum on the world wide web - but from time to time tangential subjects come up, like the challenges of surfing as we age.  Thought I'd share some of these recent (and not so recent) comments from the soldiers in the trenches, as I get the time and opportunity.

I'll start with Jack, who had an eye-opening session demonstrating the subtle and cumulative effects of the aging process.  Jack is not unusual in suddenly becoming aware that age had snuck in the back door while he was busy just dealing with life, and imposed some new and unwelcome limitations.

Jack writes, " I have always been in pretty good shape as I have been lucky to look and feel at least 10 years younger than I am,  a blessing for sure.  However, I have never been much into working out or running etc.  I just kind of kept in shape by staying active playing tennis, surfing, playing with my kids etc.  But now as I am about to turn 48 I am feeling my age for the first time.  I married a younger woman 3 years ago and we have a beautiful new baby.  So that, work, and lack of waves (I live in S. FL.) has kept me out of the water.  Living in S.FL waves are infrequent and really infrequent in the summer.  You really have to be on it when it's on.  As you know swell, wind, tide and light just does not go by your schedule.  So I have found it very hard to get out there.  These days I surf a couple of times in the summer and once every couple of weeks other times of year.   I used to be able to surf at least once a week or more during the better times of year.  Those times seem to be gone now.

"Anyway, yesterday after about 4 months or so of not surfing (kids, baby, life, timing of swell, etc.) I finally made it out.  Got up for a early morning sesh.  Tropical disturbance brought us some 3-5 foot waves but with heavy on shore and a bit of victory at see conditions.  Tough go after not surfing for a while but nothing was going to stop me.  So I stretched a bit and hit it.  10 minutes of paddling and duck diving and I hit the wall and didn't make it out.   What!   Embarrassing.  Not me not here.  The waves aren’t big just relentless.  Sat on the beach a few to catch my breath and take my licking.  Hit it again.  Almost out and a set comes in and cleans me up!  WTH.  I'm pathetic.  Back to the beach to lick my wounds and catch my breath and let my rubbery arms rest.  Here I go again, 3rd time’s a charm, finally made it out.  But now my arms are rubber and I'm out of breath.  Set's coming in and I just have to wait to rest.  I'm thinking, "I can't drown out here, I have family that needs me".  What!  So here comes a wave, I paddle kind of.  Get it start to stand up feel weak and just chunk it.  Jeeze what a kook (I used to be a pretty decent surfer)!  Got to get back out, ok did it, I’m out again and paddling against the wind and waves.  Paddle for a couple and don't get in.  Here comes one, I got it.  Tired up slow stand then hurl.  Now a set cleans me up and I just can't get back out. Can't risk it I'm done just too tired and don't want to be stupid.  Spent.  Slither back to the beach feeling defeated like a complete kook.  The wind is blowing, I can smell the sea, the salt on my skin.  I shower get dressed and drive home.

"I'm home and a bit disappointed.  I'm feeling my age, I’m scarred.  I'm a surfer, since I was 13 and first gave it a go I fell in love with the sport and it's just been my favorite activity and pastime, nothing else compares.  But now what?  Actually, I'm feeling pretty good, my spirits are up I feel a bit exhilarated.  Just going out being in the water, paddling, working, moving, being with the ocean again.  I need to change things.  I know that now.  Reading this blog, finding I am not alone.  Living in S. FL I can't surf as much as I like to be in shape so I have to be more fit.  Next time I can get out, things will be different, better, more confident, more fun.  Thanks for the stoke, I remember what it was like.

"I wonder if there are waves today?  Maybe I can hit it after work. :)" - Jack

Sunday, August 16, 2015

crowd surfing for the senior set

I'm 60 years old, and I regularly surf the crowded surf spots of north L.A. county, and Ventura.  I have learned that there are a few things that work for me, to keep the experience enjoyable.

First and foremost is attitude.  We are there to have fun.  There is no wave worth fighting over, or injuring someone, or ruining their day.  I try to keep the safety and stoke of myself and others in the forefront of my mind at all times.  When someone gets a wave I wanted, I remind myself, that person paid their dues to be out the same as me, they deserve a good ride as much as I do.

But neither can you give in to the intimidation or bully techniques sometimes seen in the lineup.  Paddle for each wave like you mean business.  If you're not sure that someone else has it, go for it.  Then, once you're up, if you see there is someone behind you, kick out.  Let the guy with priority have his wave.  That's good surf etiquette, and I believe in practicing it, even if no one else is.  If someone snakes me, I try to let them know I'm behind them, without getting hostile or spoiling the vibe.   OK, maybe a little stinkeye, but nothing more severe than that :-)

Keep your expectations reasonable.  Some days the crowds are so thick, I just tell myself I'm gonna paddle around the lineup for practice and exercise, any waves will just be a bonus.  And I almost always get a few, but I don't stress out over the ones I miss because of the crowd.  I like to do dawn patrol, get a few waves, and then go on with my day.  Except in rare instances, I let the 'kids' have the mid-day.

Equipment: ride a board that's an easy paddler.  People think old guys ride longboards because they're easier to surf.  I ride them because they're easier to paddle, and catch waves with!  If I didn't surf aggro crowds, or if a little respect and leeway was offered to the older surfers. I'd ride shorter boards.  In fact, I still sometimes do ride shorter boards, but the thicker the crowd, the longer board I prefer.

I always try to share a smile and a little stoke, maybe hoot for someone else's wave, loan out some surf wax, compliment a good wave, ask someone how their session went and really listen, whether it was good or bad.  Surfing is all about fun and a good time, never lose sight of that, even in the midst of a crowd that seems to have.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

surfers over 60?

As I approach age 60, I'm ecstatic to still be actively surfing.  A lot of days I paddle out "just to stay in the game", but then I always end up getting stoked on surfing every time.

Fitness?  I don't actively "work out", but I surf regularly, do hard physical labor for my day job, and walk an awful lot, including some pretty serious hillside stairs on a regular basis.  And I try to recognize my limitations, avoiding more dangerous surf I might have braved in younger days.

I recently broke two fingers in a freak accident, when my leash wrapped around them in a breaking wave.  I've been out of the water for a week now, surgery is tomorrow morning, and I'm chomping at the bit to get back out in the surf!

Losing a few pounds has helped too, I've been enjoying riding smaller boards, like the orange one pictured below, as a result.  Hopefully I can keep those pesky pounds off!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Getting in better condition.

This year has been a slow starter for me.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  First, I don't like surfing in cold water.  The winter water temps here is FL are about the same and sometimes colder than CA.  That means wet suits and booties.  I got a new West wet suit at the start of the year.  Frankly,  it wears me out just getting it on.  Booties are great for keeping your feet warm but, they add a lot of weight.  Anyways, I didn't surf as much this winter as I usually do.

The other thing that happen was I gained a few extra pounds.  It really made a big difference in my paddle power in a negative way.  A good friend suggested that I change my diet to organic vegetables.  My girlfriend and I stopped eating beef and pork products.  We also starting eating only fresh vegetables.  Those two things made a huge difference.  As a result I lost 10 pounds.  Now, I'm able to scratch into waves much easier and I have a lot more energy.  That was the single most important adjustment I made.  Anyways, it gave me the outcome I wanted.

For the last couple months I been surfing a lot more and enjoying it more than ever.  I'm continuing to eat health and surfing when the opportunity arises.  The other factor that gets me out in the water are my friends.  The guys that live and surf here are very good.  It's great to go down to the beach and see friends in the parking lot or in the line up.  Most everyone treats one another fairly and altercations are rare.

This should be a fun summer and hopefully we'll get some good waves.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo comes to OBS.

This hurricane season we were fortunate to get some fun surf without the nasty weather.  Gonzalo started showing some swell on Thursday October 16th.  It was nice because the breeze was off shore and conditions were clean.  There were a lot of guys out but, there were plenty of waves for everyone.

The water was still warm (78 degress) and it was sunny.  This is the time of year when there are a lot of fish migrating so, there was a lot of marine activity.  The dolphins were having a good time and getting their fill from what I could see.  This might be the last hurricane of the season and everyone was taking advantage of it.

Friday was suppose to have been the best day.  I couldn't surf that day because I had to attend to family business.  That didn't set well but, oh well sometime family has to come first.  The last good day was Saturday.  I was able to paddle out for a late afternoon session.  It wasn't crowded except for some kids.  It turns out that most of the guys were surfed out from the day before.

Gonzalo was a lot of fun.  It'd be great if we could have another hurricane come our way.  Probably the next swell will be from the north and bring the cold wind and water.  Here are some of the locals having fun here in Ormond by the Sea.  Hurricane Gonzalo

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hurricane Edouard 2014

We are getting fun surf here in Ormond Beach, FL.  September and October usually are the best months of the year for surfing here.  Edouard was a good hurricane because it produced a good swell with off shore breezes.  Tuesday and Wednesday were the best days.  Here is a link to see the just how good it was.
Hurricane Edouard day 1.

The second day was a lot more fun.  The swell cleaned up.  That morning the waves were glassy.  The rides were long and fun.  It was good that the kids were in school.  It was mostly older guys out.  Some on longboards others on fishes.  Here is day 2. Hurricane Edouard day 2.

It was awesome to paddle out and surf with friends.  Everyone was loving power and the ocean was alive.  I mentioned to a friend, to bad it's not like this all the time.  He replied, if it was this place would be packed.  I know that's right.  Most of the older guys are a little surfed out now.  Most will be like me watching the weather channel for the next hurricane.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hurricane Bertha and a Birthday.

A couple of good things happen this week.  We started to see some swell from Bertha on Saturday August 2nd.  It was lumpy, choppy and bigger than usual which was a nice change.   Sunday morning the surf looked much bigger and pretty wild.  I did paddle out and got some fun rides but, it was a lot of work.  On Monday the surf had cleaned up a lot and it still had size to it.  Lots of guys were out and I got some fun rides that will stay with me for a while.  

My girlfriend got me a new board for my birthday.  I instantly feel in love with it and had so much fun.  It's a little bit shorter than my other fish so, I was enjoying the ride.  Anyways, Tuesday was the day.  The swell had dropped a little.  The breeze was light and the waves had cleaned up a lot.  It was non stop fun.  I had a great time.

I'm not sure what the surf is like today Wednesday.  It won't be as good as yesterday but, it'll still be fun.  I'm stoked to still be able to paddle out and have so much fun at 62.  Yes, there were a couple guys out that are older than me.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Everyone loves Arthur.

It's summer time and that means the chance for some tropical storms.  Arthur came to life about July 2nd and by the 4th it had developed into a hurricane.  We got some fun waves for three days.

It was a lot of fun and the water was warm.  Nice to see friends out having a good time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Smile, you're in paradise.

There are some real advantages in getting older.  Like being retired.  My daily routine is dependent upon the surf, tides, winds and temperature.  Some mornings I'll hang out at the house and enjoy a relaxing breakfast with my girlfriend.  Other days I'm down at the beach at the crack of dawn.  Life is good for me.  The surf here in northern Florida will always surprise you.  What I find the most surprising is how often we have off shore breezes.  Sometimes it's just in the morning and other times it's all day.  Today for example, we had off shore in the morning and light on shore in the afternoon.  I really love living at the beach.  It's just a 5 minute walk to the beach for a surf check.  That keeps me in the loop and helps me score more waves.  Plus it's fun to hang out with some fellow surfers.
One of the other good things about Florida surf is the warm water.  Since the middle of April I haven't had to wear a wet suit.  The water feels good and staying out for a couple hours isn't a problem.  It's only going to get warmer and will stay comfortable until mid or late October.  There are times when the surf is small and weak.  On those days I longboard it, SUP it or just do some projects around the house.  There are lots of times when the surf is small but, if you know the right sandbars waves can be had.  Of course you'll have to paddle out a little before of after low tide.  Anyways, I'm able to get in enough surfing here that I don't feel the need to travel somewhere else.  In the summer I do like to make a trip up to North Carolina.  I don't feel the need to leave the states and all the comforts I've become use to.