Let's get straight to the point - hardly any of the manufacturers are designing boards for the middle aged surfer. Oh sure, there are lots of models of longboards and funboards and eggs that the older surfers tend to gravitate toward because of their increased volume and length, but few of those models were actually designed for those older surfers and the manner in which they are trying to surf a wave.
Obviously this discussion doesn't apply to the classic longboards because like fine wine that type of surfing remains timeless, even if it did fall out of favor for a while. The younger kids might be a bit more nimble with their cross stepping but they don't have any advantage as far as wave judgment or their ability to slip in and out of trim.
Most of the high performance longboards are designed based on the input from the Hi-Po LB surfers, who on average are much younger, fitter and more aggressive than the average middle aged weekend warrior. How many 55-yr old guys are trying to charge DOW waves on a longboard? Let us all pray that it is only the select few who never really stopped charging DOH waves on longboards.
The infamous funboards certainly have their merits, but in the hands of an experienced surfer they are generally perceived as being fairly utilitarian and bland. That's because they were primarily designed for novice surfers.
The disconnect here is the underlying assumption that an individual's physical attributes relative to paddling into a wave will generally match their skill set and experience. While that assumption may be relatively well founded among the younger surfers it is highly debatable when an older surfer is involved.
I reckon that there are few people who start surfing on a regular basis after 40. If someone is surfing regularly at 50 or older it's likely because they've been at it to one degree or another for a long time. There are exceedingly few novices in the 50+ age ranges. Many people in our age ranges learned on and primarily surfed lower volume equipment and naturally favor the type of surfing that prevailed in the 1970s and 1980s. That being the case, why are so many veteran surfers devolving away from that type of surfing and those types of boards by buying boards designed for novices?
Is it really for the increased float and length? I don't believe those two elements alone should override every other consideration.
If I don't get completely blasted (by you folks) for opening this line of discussion I intend to hack out several follow-up entries that I hope will inspire some of you to question every aspect of the equipment you currently ride as well as your own perceptions of your surfing.