There are a lot of surfers over the age of 50 who have managed successfully to keep their stoke, and stay healthy enough to surf. I think the main issues that face the over-50 surfer are these:
- Health and fitness
- Board (or quiver) selection
- Surf conditions
As we have all discovered, the ageing process affects our bodies, and our physical and athletic abilities. That has a direct bearing on our surfing. Surfing requires a physical involvement on a number of levels: the stamina and strength to paddle out, the ability to swim, and to hold our breath, in the advent of a wipeout, the flexibility, dexterity, and reflexes to stand up and to control our boards while surfing. As we age, many of us gain weight, and this can hinder our surfing. Even our vision, when it starts to go, becomes an issue in our surfing. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can take its toll after a lifetime of surfing in the sun.
Our board selection becomes more of an issue as we age. Shorter boards become more difficult to paddle and to ride (but not impossible - many over-50 surfers are still active short-board surfers!). Many of us begin looking for "easier-paddling" boards that still allow the freedom of maneuverabilty of a shorter board. Many go to longboarding, or even kneeboarding, or belly-boarding. All done in an effort to stay out in the surf, enjoying the ride!
Wave and surf-spot selection becomes more of an issue for the over-50 surfer. Most of us can't take the late drops and split-second popups like we did when we were younger. Also, crowds (of mostly young, agile, and aggressive surfers) can become more intimidating to the older surfer.