I first began to really come to grips with consistent seriously fast hollow waves earlier this year when I began to surf the fabled sand bottom points of the Australian Southern Gold Coast on a full time basis.
Prior to giving up working for a living, my days required me to spend much of my time sitting on my ass in a very interesting, but somewhat sedentary job. I surfed some afternoons and odd weekends when conditions were suitable.
On retirment surfing returned to being a key focus in life, and with some measure of good fortune, I found myself on almost a daily basis tackling fast, small to medium, clean sand bottom barrels. Something I had always dreamed of doing but was never able to devote enough time.
But going from a relatively sedentary work life at age 55 to competing with a voracious "dog pack" most days for fast hollow waves required a level of ability that had deserted me in the intervening years. Despite my original optimism I found my overall fitness, flexibility and equipment were all seriously lacking for this new mission.
Apart from the issues of agility and fitness, in the order of things my most pressing problem appeared to be my current equipment. I was surfing a generic 7'6" roundtail thruster which had seemed to serve me well in my previous waves, but was found wanting in the current circumstances. It now seemed very sluggish in these waves and was not anywhere near fast enough to get me down the line on fast zipping waves.
After being ground into the shallow banks a number of times, I was initially a bit perplexed at how to deal with the problem, until I recalled a surf trip a couple years back to a remote Central Pacific atoll. The reef breaks there were very fast and hard to make, but one expat local was riding a long 9'2" pin tail that he had imported from the Hawiian North Shore. Because of the speed of that board he was the only one really getting through the fast reef sections.
Feeling the need for speed, I came apon a new 9"4" McTavish F4 Quad pintail in a local surf shop. After a bit of apprehension about owning something so long, I bought this board and have been riding it on long fast waves since July this year. It is not only blindingly fast in hollow fast waves, but with its quad fin set up it is incredibly manouverable for such a long board. It has seen me increase my wave count manifold and given me enormous pleasure and confidence to ride.
As for flexibility and fitness, I saw a physiotherapist who was also a fellow surfer. He gave me a range of really good yoga and core stregth exercises to do. Apart from yoga I now do around 60 sit ups daily. This has strethened my core body muscles and really allowed me to spring to my feet much more easily.
In combination with surfing most days, these excercises have really improved both my flexibility surf fitness and wave confidence enormously. So I guess the moral here is that with a little thought and enquiry it is always possible to maintain and improve your performance on waves regardless of how old you are.