Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Greybeard Loses His Marbles: Part Two

Part Two:  Early Research and Getting "Stoked"

As mentioned I can blame this whole affair on a casual comment by my partner Susan about learning to surf – she at age 59, and me at 66.  Now being the mad researcher, it didn’t take long to determine that learning to surf on a longboard was likely my/our best bet.  So soon Mr. Amazon sent me four books:

  1. Learn to Surf by James MacLaren: this short book was an easy read, and although noting that softboard or foamie might work at first, held that a real longboard was a much better choice.  Covered are the bare minimums, but little more in what is really more of an overview in a fairly small book.  Worth buying only if you are as obsessive/compulsive as I am, lol.
  2. Longborder’s Start-Up by Doug Werner:  Even shorter, even smaller, dominated by large pictures and larger print, plus a long butt-kissing interview with Messrs. Steward and Ford of Stewart Surfboards (who sponsored the book).  Again the bare minimums but way barer.  Not recommended, by me anyway.
  3. Surfing Illustrated by John Robinson (the author of Kayaking Illustrated).  As an advanced kayaker and surfski paddler, this book attracted me.  This 176 page book is large (not just in length), with plenty of copy and amazing hand drawn illustrations.  Very educational, and relatively complete, covering all aspects of waves, equipment, alternatives and learning. A must buy in my view, terrific.  And last…
  4. Wingnut’s Complete Surfing by Robert “Wingnut” Weaver:  this is the book that really did it for me, particularly because Wingnut (and his favored Robert August longboards) are all about just one thing: longboarding for all, from 7 to 70.  He is a natural teacher, and his book gives you all the tools and hope you’ll need to do his style of smooth and soulful longboarding – exactly my objective.

He even advises buying the Endless Summer vids, plus his own Wingnut’s Art of Longboarding (volumes 1 and 3 are very educational, vol 2 is simply a travelogue.  I got them all at the where you can download these 40 to 60 min. vids for $9.99 and save em to disc.  Way cheaper than trying to buy em on Amazon, etc.

Now of course he favors in particular the 9’6” Robert August What I Ride, as a good all-around and forgiving board, great for beginners but with room for growth.  He has no issues with this board in Tufflite, and also recommends other shorter designs for those who wish to progress further.  A great book and vids for me and my old man goals.

These books – especially Wingnut’s and his vids – left me with a sense of hope and a growing understanding of longboard design such as rail shape, rocker, width, concave, single or multiple fins, volume et al, but more importantly made this crazy notion seem doable!  Great!  I no longer felt like a complete idiot and was then able to start visiting surfshops and asking intelligent questions.

Next up: Choosing a Board…


  1. You might also enjoy the video Surfing For Life about surfers in their 70's 80's and 90's.

  2. I agree with Huck about the video "Surfing For Life." It's certainly a most inspirational one, and remember, YouTube is also full of instructional vids too.

    But best for you to do is just get out there, if not just to paddle around and feel the energy and stoke. Remember, be respectful of others in the water, and sit and watch from the beach before you go out.

  3. Thanks for the tips, guys. Ordered the video. Here in Fort Lauderdale we are down at the beach most everyday. Right now there's a couple big tropical storms working in the Atlantic, which usually create some amazing surf (normally south Florida is mostly wind waves and chop as the Bahamas break up most of the real ocean swells.

    Once again, I'm thankful that this blog exists. A rarity, much appreciated. It's really funny when I walk into a surf shop and start looking at boards. The help is mostly in their 20's, if that, and wonder if I'm shopping for my grandson or something. Some have actually tried to talk me out of surfing, or point me toward extra-wide stand up boards.

  4. Got the video (Surfing for Life) - absolutely wonderful and inspirational, a great recommendation that I too would now recommend to any older surfer. There is nothing that equals seeing and hearing surfers from 60 to 90 years old participating and expressing their joy and love for the sea that better serves as inspiration and reassurance that indeed, this can be done.

    Thanks, worth every centivo.