Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Saturday, January 22, 2011

61 years old and riding a 6'0" fish!

the following showed up recently as a comment on an older posting. I found it thought provoking, so I am re-posting here:

I'm 61 and I still ride short board. Well, it's a 6'0" fish. It's not always easy because I don't paddle as well as I used to and I get out of shape really fast, but when the stars are aligned correctly I can still get some fun waves. I refuse to give up on the feeling of pumping down the line, coming off the bottom and hitting the lip that only a short board offers. I have little interest in long boarding, except as a defensive weapon to get some waves on crowded days.

I just returned from a 3 week trip to Puerto Rico. The crowds were insane. Long boards, paddle boards and lunatic kooks in surf schools made getting waves at the popular point breaks impossible. But when I went around the point to shallow, harder breaking wave with an urchin covered coral reef bottom I was able to get all I wanted. I took my lumps, no doubt, I admit.

I don't ride big waves anymore. I don't think I could handle the hold-downs and the paddling. There are days when my back is so bad I can't even get to my feet or if I do, it ain't pretty to watch... and then I do "look silly". But, so frigging what? One zippy little barrel or a nice backside off the lip makes all the frustration well worth while. I feel like I'm playing with house money at this point anyway.

All the little things about surfing I took for granted or was annoyed by for so many years are a joy for me now. Just paddling out, duck diving through waves, scratching for the horizon when a big set is coming, walking back to my truck in the evening after a session, feeling that wonderful exhaustion that only surfing has ever given me are things I treasure.

The thing is, don't sell yourself short because you're older. Make the effort to get in shape and stay there. Just surf alot. Screw obnoxious little groms. Some of them aren't so bad anyway. I had a kid paddle up to me and tell me how good my turns were. Made my day. I mean, let's face it, most of like compliments. And any encouragement we get at this point is welcome, no?

Most of all, ignore the old man that is in all of us. Ignore your buddies who try and discourage you because they can't or won't surf anymore. Misery loves company. Listen to the little kid who still mind surfs every wave he sees, no matter how small. Just do me a favor and give old farts like me on shorter boards a wave once in awhile... W. R.


  1. We really enjoyed your post, W.R.
    My husband and I are late 50s-early 60s and still love to ride our smaller boards, fishes, quads and trifins, with a little glide built in. We are all kids in our hearts. Thanks for sharing your stoke. Take care! Cher and Steve

  2. WR,

    Yeah, it's hard when your body does'nt want to do what the mind wants to do. I'm a tad younger at 56, but occasionally stutter popping up on my 6'8", but yeah, just keep on trying. My shortest ride is a 6'0" fish which I have'nt taken out for a while, but my 6'8" Surftech Flyer has been seeing a lot of action, along with an 8 and 9 foot long board. I'm still trying to discipline myself to get into a steady regimen of exercises and stretching to strengthen my core and back muscles. I'm also trying to stimulate myself to get back into my shaping room and whittle out some boards which I have'nt done for a few years now. To Cher and Steve from the above post, I'm in posession of one your boards that a friend, Al Lagunero left at my house for when he visits Hawaii. Y'all stay stoked!

  3. Good one mate, how old was the kid, only 40. I'm just a grommet at 51, I also will not ride a mal, just too frustrating, mind you I have taken up the sup as it is a bit more exiting than a mal(I love to see the look of terror on the groms faces as I take off). Keep it up old fella, I can remember when I was a kid it was a given that you grew up and drifted away from surfing when you were 30. Well that was in Australia anyway, my first trip to Hawaii opened my eyes when I was often the youngest by far in the line up at 26 .

  4. Let's all stay stoked! And thanks for the heads-up Derek, we look forward to meeting you when we come back to Oahu.
    Aloha :-)