Still Paddling Out
EVERY SURFER REMEMBERS the year they caught their first wave. This year I’m celebrating 30 years as a surfer. During the past three decades, I’ve had plenty of long stretches stuck on dry land. Years of getting flabby and out of shape — not going anywhere near a beach because every waking moment was spent dropping off and picking up kids from daycare and chasing the dog down the street and trying to keep the house from catching on fire. My kids are still young, but I think I am back in the water for good this time.
As the body ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to hop back out there. Easing back into the water slowly seems to be the key — once a week, then twice a week, then three times a week if you’ve got the time. Stretching and yoga also help if you want to be able to hold you own in the water. I’m in my 40s now and everyone else my age seems to be golfing or going to the gym (snore!). But I can’t do it, man. I love the water too much and there is no substitute for surfing. Even when the waves are small it’s nice to just sit out there in the dark blue water at 6 AM and watch the pelicans glide by and feel the heat press on my back as the sun rises over the bluffs. All of my friends have quit surfing so I surf alone now, which has taken some getting used to.
After 30 years on a short board, I tried an 8 foot longboard this month. Balance has been a bit of a challenge but having the heft of a bigger board beneath my feet is a good feeling. We’ve got some outstanding surf spots in Southern California — San Onofre being by far my favorite. Surfing at Sano (as the locals call it) is like going back in time 200 years. No shops, no restaurants, no tourists, no bars, no roaring motorcycles, no buildings. Just hiking trails and steep cliffs and sand and water and serious surfers and lots and lots of waves. If Wyatt Earp had learned to surf, he would have done it at San Onofre.
It’s hard to believe that in 30 more years I will be in my mid-70s. The clock starts ticking ever so rapidly when you get older, so here’s to a few more excellent decades in the water!
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