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.