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Too Old To Surf?
updated: Jan 22, 2014, 10:17 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Am I too old to learn to surf? My son wants to start lessons and I was thinking about how cool it would be to learn as well - something I always wanted to try but never had the guts. I'm a nearly 40 year old mom. I'd love to hear if anyone in Edhat land has actually tired this as an adult. I am in okay shape, semi coordinated, but no where near a strong swimmer...can I do this? If you think I should give it a go, where should I go for help/lessons? Thanks!

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 488102 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:19 AM

You're never too old to surf! I've seen guys in their 70's out there. Get a really long foam board and it will practically surf for you. Good luck and let us know how it goes!


 COMMENT 488104 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:19 AM

Go to Mondos, get a big blue soft top.

Have fun.


 COMMENT 488107 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:22 AM

I'm 50 and one of these days I'm going to learn to surf. Don't worry what others think.


 COMMENT 488110 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:24 AM

Never to old to learn to surf. It's one of the simple pleasures in life. My sister learned while in her mid 40's and a woman friend started surfing in her late 30's.


 COMMENT 488113P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:35 AM

My first time on a surf board was at about 45, I started by learning on my own but happened upon A-Fame in Summerland while I was photographing an event. They were great. A cheap wet suit and a $99 Costco surfboard would be a good place to start.


 COMMENT 488115 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:38 AM

Skip the lessons and spend the money on a couple of big foam boards and just go goof around... teach yourself! You can always say "got any pointers?" with a smile to anyone - it works. Wear a leg leash and you shouldn't need to swim more than a few feet. Go to leadbetter and play in the cove, 20' off the beach. Obviously, don't go out unless its a gentle day. Watch the waves and realize that there are fairly obvious patterns to them. Practice paddling around, then try to catch a wave lying down. If you can't catch it, you're probably not actually trying (beginners like to pretend to try for waves, but are nervous about getting one!) or you're not on a wave big enough to push you. If the front of the board is sticking up in the air, slide your weight forward... if it's diving underwater, slide back. It's not complicated, the hard part is overcoming your insecurity about trying something new. Have fun, and the skills will follow!


 COMMENT 488120 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:46 AM

Please swim well and learn some surf etiquette before entering the water at a crowded spot. Despite what others have or may tell you, it can be ruthless and aggressive in the water. Guys will call you out if you don't follow the rules or if act like a jerk (even out of ignorance). For the record, this 40-something Goodlander has surfed locally for over 35 years. I've taught my kids to surf but don't encourage them. Even I miss the days when it was mostly just a few guys under 30 in the water. We predicted the surf by reading the Newspress weather page and phoning friends in Hawaii. There were secret spots where one could surf good waves all alone. Parents had to work and there were no surf schools so kids learned to surf all by themselves. Old guys got jobs and the only women we saw in the lineup were pros. OP, remember this when you try to relate to a guy in the water your age.


 COMMENT 488123 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 11:00 AM

As a lifelong local surfer- No you are not too old to learn to surf. Take some lessons and learn proper etiquette/safety in the water, and have fun!


 COMMENT 488137 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 11:27 AM

They have those surf camps in the summer, look for one for adults. Even better, take a trip to Hawaii and learn on the gentle waves of Waikiki. They are set up to teach people that haven't been in the water much there.

I tried to teach a friend once and I was amazed at how much info there was to pass along, especially if you haven't grown up in the ocean and learned to go with the flow.

A 20-something friend learned very quickly but she was really motivated and kept at it daily for a while.


 COMMENT 488171 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 12:32 PM

For your sake, it's a great idea.But for your son's sake, don't tag along with him or try to go surfing with him. He needs to do it by himself and not be worrying about what you think or other kids teasing him. It seems like parents have a hard time these days being separate from their kids.


 COMMENT 488185 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 12:58 PM

Absolutely learn to surf. Buy a board from Costco. Once you've got a few lessons under your belt head out to Rincon when it's 3-6 feet. 150 other surfers will definitely share your stoke and spread the Aloha. Ask any of them for pointers...


 COMMENT 488187 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 01:00 PM

I echo 120's advice. Don't surf unless you know you can get yourself to shore without drowning if/when you lose your board. Don't rely on your leash as it can break, or come undone. I've had to chase my board several times over the years and can imagine how terrifying that would've been if I wasn't already comfortable in the water... the ocean can have strong currents and sometimes the kelp can get you pretty tangled. Maybe start with a wetsuit and some time bodysurfing and/or swimming out among the breakers.


 COMMENT 488191 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 01:05 PM

Never to old!!! You'll have fun!

There are a couple of places in town that will take you out for a lesson... try Aloha Surf Sisters! associated with Surf Happens.

Or just do what everyone else is saying... go have fun on your own! (but brush up on your surf etiquette first)


 COMMENT 488264 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 03:09 PM

What is surf etiquette? Is that where the biggest board that can sit the farthest outside gets all the waves they want? Or the most aggressive surfer gets all the waves they want? Nothing like scrapping for 3 wave sets with 150 guys/girls out.


 COMMENT 488285 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 03:46 PM

264, I agree, but what are you going to do? Such is life. Make the best of it. Go to lesser known spots. Or wear your headlamp and go at 2am?


 COMMENT 488296 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 04:19 PM

Too many surfers and not enough waves to go around IMO.Some spots we have are currently being taken away and no new spots are being created to further add to the problem.
Sitting on a board waiting for waves is not a good source of exercise anyways and when one does come 3 people will already be on it.Add SUPers to all the learning spots and it really isn't much fun to be a beginner anymore.Better to get a good bike and enjoy our backcountry.I recently rode beyond the gate on Paradise Road to Red Rocks with no one around and it was awesome.


 COMMENT 488305 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 04:44 PM

Nobody is ever too old to learn ANYthing. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of their own insecurities or problems.

I'm a 45 year old woman and I have been surfing since I was around 9.

What I will tell you though, is this: It's hard work if you're not in relatively good shape already. Safety is important, so make sure to err on the side of caution and get more lessons than you THINK you might need and never risk going out alone until you have a full year or two of really regular practice under your belt.

Otherwise, go for it! You will love it, I can almost guarantee it!


 COMMENT 488321P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 05:29 PM

Where is the best place for surfing lessons?


 COMMENT 488378P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 10:14 PM

185 was being sarcastic, obviously. And 187 got it right. Surfing can be a dangerous sport, even with smaller waves, especially if you can't hold your breath for very long. Being tumbled by waves can impact breath holding time.
Don't forget your board can injure you and others. I would take 187's advice and work your way up to being in the waves with a board and then having that board attached to your leg.
Also: When you're 50 you don't heal as quickly or as easily as when you're a younger person. I'd take that into account. That said, I'm 60 and still riding my bike everywhere and inline skating. You just need to be fit and be knowledgable about what you're doing. Best of luck.


 COMMENT 488381P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-22 11:41 PM

I'd say take a lesson from Chris Keet, the rincon classic organizer. He will give you a full lesson (from gear to weather to types of waves and boards, to etiquette) and whether it's golf or surfing, a professional can save you tons of time and trial and error. And let's face it, you aren't getting any younger. ;-)

I learned after 40 along with my son. He quickly surpassed me but we've been out surfing together this whole week. I started off with SUP and then learned to appreciate traditional surfing and do that as well.

Regardless, you can never be too flexible or too good of a swimmer, so yes, I think you should consider physical preparation by swimming laps and doing some sprint swims. Build up the shoulders so as to avoid rotator cuff issues.

And I'll be the first here to say that if you're older, the easiest way to learn to surf is to learn to paddleboard. They'll all cry bloody murder, but it's the truth. SUP has made it easier for older folks to enjoy the water and waves. And it doesn't have to be at rincon. With a SUP, you can paddle the coastline and find little gems as well.

Those who criticize it will probably not acknowledge technological enhancement, but they'll criticize while it typing on their iPhone, not calling it in on their landline or faxing in their comments, LOL.

SUP is the same degree of innovation. Yes, crowds are an issue, but look at surfing books and mags from the 60's, all complaining about how crowded it is at the beach. Crowds have been an issue for 50+ years.

There are still some gripers who are against anything and everything: leashes, longboards, short boards, wetsuits, surf forecasting websites, waterproof cameras, you name it. Anything that makes it easier for other surfers besides them and their chosen heroes to get in the water.

You have one life to live- get out there and enjoy it, whether others encourage you or not. You be happier, and you'll bond with your child, something we can all agree is paramount.


 COMMENT 488418 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 08:25 AM

Surfing is lame and boring. Don't try it. ;)


 COMMENT 488426 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 08:45 AM

I try it every ten years or so. Seems like a great way to cling to youth and health....then comes the dislocated shoulder, or near drowning...over time the urge to learn how to surf comes back and I try again.
Pretty much all recreation involves danger....but you just gotta do it. For Michael Schumacher all the years behind the wheel of a Formula One car defying all odds, then be taken out by a low speed ski accident...you just never know. Hell yes go surfing!


 COMMENT 488433 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 08:50 AM

I concur on several points. No, you are not too old. Yes, skip lessons and spend the money on boards. Yes, Mondos is a good spot to learn, but Devereaux Pt. Is probably more convenient and also has a slow long wave. About foam boards? Well, they suck. They don't paddle well in spite of all the flotation and performance a step up from an air mattress. Spend the money on a real long board 10-6' to 11' with lots of flotation. I am 69 and still surfing since I began in 1954.


 COMMENT 488447 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 09:23 AM

Empower yourself! DO IT. You are never too old for anything and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. GO FOR IT!


 COMMENT 488448 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 09:29 AM

My patient James Pike is a great surf instructor. Try Pike Surf School. No, I am not James Pike. I am his chiropractor.


 COMMENT 488495 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 10:32 AM

LOL, empower yourself. You'll flounder for years but tell all your mom-friends you're a surfer after your first lesson. They'll nod appreciatively, your kid will groan. Stick to yoga and lattes.


 COMMENT 488506 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 10:40 AM

I second taking lessons from Chris Keet - He's wonderful, has a great thing going with surf school and surf camps, and his staff is top notch.

My fiance is 68 and still surfing, and my 12 year old daughter and 10 year old granddaughter learned to surf this summer at Chris' surf camp.

Have fun and get salty!


 COMMENT 488549 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 11:40 AM

I'll third Chris Keet lessons. Your learing curve will be much steeper.


 TMO agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 03:34 PM

Doug at surf country in Goleta is great for lessons.


 COMMENT 488739 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-23 06:22 PM

Please learn how to swim well before learning how to surf.
Then you must learn the surfers etiquette.
It is best to start boogie boarding to learn how to read the waves and be comfortable in the water.
Have fun.


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