Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Thursday, November 26, 2015

six foot seven foot eight foot punch!

This is a board I designed and made for myself about a year ago, I call it the Banana Boat.  I try to design boards for my specific needs, being an older guy (60) who needs a little extra paddle power, surfing crowded L.A. point breaks, but not always wanting to ride a longboard.

Its 8' long and 22" wide and 3 5/8" thick, a wide squash tail, with a quad fin setup.  Fat board, lots of volume out to the rails, slight concave in nose, flat through middle, slight double-concave V in tail, flattening out at the very back.

US Blanks 8-2 A "red" density, glassed heavy for strength.  Fat rails with a chine or bevel "release" edge along bottom.  The artwork is a picture of Carmen Miranda I painted right on the foam.  It was glassed with Resin Research epoxy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Opening Day

Just last week was the opening day at Maverick's. Our local break had it's opening day as well. I'm sure a lot of places up and down the California coast showed their first glimpse of what's to come after months of what seemed endless south swells. Even after surfing for close to 40 years I still get nervous when paddling out on days like this. Not so much at a rock/reef break but at a big shifty beach break you know that you are going to have to take some beatings. The main advantage I feel that I have at age 52 is experience and patience. I know that I can't force a situation, the ocean is in charge, just don't be in a hurry and let the session unfold. I didn't bring the right board but a friend of mine loaned me a garage shape 7'6"that I had never ridden. Good bye south swells, looking forward to some NW energy. Although 3 shark incidents in the last 10 days along my immediate coast hasn't helped my stoke.

The rewards of having a little patience, and shark denial.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Surfing With Scooter

It's amazing how a simple interaction with someone can turn into a lifelong friendship. It was April 1st, 1992, opening day for the abalone divers but a pumping swell as well. Like me, some guys parked nearby were getting ready to go out to a nice point break that was working a solid 10' swell.

One guy walked up and asked if he could borrow a leash. As it would turn out, that individual has turned out to be a lifelong friend. Scooter is not only my best friend but we are the best of surfing partners. We have scored an unbelievable number of waves together. So many that I'm sure it's led to more than our fair share of trying to smooth out the edges with our wives.

Scooter just turned 50 in 2015. He was so excited about it that he had three different birthday celebrations. Although he has to contend with a sore back and a bad knee, he doesn't talk about it too much. Sometimes I have to talk him into going out but all in all he is definitely a 100% surf junky. He has about 6 surfboards ranging from a 6'8" to an 8'2" gun.

Our primary focus is to put on back packs and find waves. For the most part we try to avoid parking lot surf. When school starts and our kid's are locked away for 6 hours, the surf data has been assessed and a destination or two has been decided the night before. We always keep day packs and hiking equipment in the car. We also even keep clippers on hand in case we have to cut back any overgrowth. What we have learned is that if you look at any wave long enough you will eventually surf it.

The rewards of poison oak.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

"surf geezer" - insight from nomastomas

Note to younger guys: Surf geezers are typically retired, and/or marginally employed. This allows us to surf when we want and for as long as we want or can, whichever comes first. And, next to the senior discount, that's a pretty good deal. 

We complain a lot about the ravages of old age, but we're still stoked and always looking forward to our next wave. Look for us in the lineup, we're the guys with the permanent wetsuit tan and the silver hair, just waiting for you to paddle in and go back to your job/your school/your girlfriend/your wife/your kids, whatever it is that keeps you out of the water. 

Then again, you might catch us "power napping" in between sessions in the bed of our trucks, or drinking coffee and eating doughnuts in the parking lot, talking about boards, 'cause we got the time to do just that. Yeah, we may kook-out more than you young guys, and truth be told, we're not nearly as good surfers as we used to be, but we manage to have a pretty damn good time at the beach anyway.)

See more at:

(picture is kensurf)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Surfing with Spindle

His nickname is Spindle, some call him Stinky. When you surf with him you soon figure out why. The guy is a virtual wave magnet. Having spent his teen years in the 80's with trips to the North Shore, Indo, and Australia. That kind of experience gives a surfer the extra edge over surfers who have not traveled outside their local breaks.

His positioning for a take-off, ability to generate speed, the fluidity from turn to turn on our coastline is matched by only a few. When Spindle takes off most other surfers will turn and watch his ride.

Spindle is a few months away from turning 50. If he is out in the line-up, you can bet that he will be the best surfer in the water. He prides himself on keeping in good physical shape and when the surf is utter crap he loves to mountain bike.

He's also a great surfing partner because like me, he will surf just about any shitty wave and have fun doing it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Surfing Life at 50

This last winter of 2014 here in Northern California, I noticed fewer of the older surfers making a presence in the line-up, especially when the conditions got more challenging.  Since turning 52 I started taking more notice of who was showing up to surf and who just faded away.

Many surfers around here even start fading in their late 30's and 40's because of injuries, family commitment, or that wife that eventually won out on her will to take away the heroin that comes in the form of waves. There are a few of us in my surfing hood that have been lucky enough to be able to surf into their 50's, I will relate some photos and stories of myself and close friends who have dedicated ourselves to the meditation of getting into the water in spite of daily stresses and responsibilities.

One aspect that keeps us motivated is each other's encouragement of over 20 years. Like all surfers, I am sure that what we all have in common is the sense of satisfaction and grounded feeling that surfing gives back to us.

The toughest part though is keeping the body fit enough to surf here where the conditions are very demanding. We do not have any point breaks or soft waves. Where ever you surf you can be sure that there's going to be a lot of paddling whether the swell is big or small. If you think that you are going to have any chance when the waves get heavy then you have to surf year around. For me, that even means surfing when the swell is at a 9 second interval and the winds are on-shore at 25 mph.

The author enjoying a temporary view.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Last call for contributing writers

Blogs can grow old and die, too.

People who say "aging is all in the head" don't know - the body experiences physiological changes as it ages, and almost all of them impact our ability to surf, in one way or another.  To stay fit and conditioned enough to safely enjoy our great sport, we have to work at it.

I started this blog a few years back, when I returned to surfing at age 54, after several years away.  The idea was a blog focusing specifically on the challenges and issues we older surfers face, to stay in the game.  A venue where anyone with some stoke to share, in the form of advice, suggestions, experiences, photos, etc, could come and reach out to others who are likewise putting up a fight to enjoy our great sport as long as physically possible.

And the blog has been just that, thanks to a lot of contributors who generously gave of their time and interest.  But sadly, there have been very few returning posters, and very few signing up as contributing writers.

So, without the support of a community of aging contributors, I don't think the blog really has any purpose in existing any longer.  It was never intended to be carried by one or two people, it was always intended to be a community effort of surfers over 50, or surfers wanting to keep the stoke in the face of the challenges of aging.

If you want to be a contributing writer and work to keep the forum up and going, please contact me at my email,  If there are no new contributors, then I will consider it time to put the blog to rest.

I will close with some shots of me, at age 60, enjoying the waves at my regular beach.  My sincere thanks to all who have contributed over the years, and a special thanks to Dennis Hanson, the one remaining contributor besides myself!  - Huck

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.