AM I TOO OLD TO LEARN TO SURF?
WHAT IS THE PERFECT AGE TOO LEARN TO SURF?
Or: Am I too old to learn to surf?
Ah…….. this question. I promise it’s my favorite (and I get asked a lot of questions every week). I receive this particular one in my inbox at least once per week. Am I too old to start surfing? Will I fit in? It’s my favorite question because it’s the one I can answer with absolute surety because I’ve experienced it and I understand it, I get the doubt in the back of your mind. I’m 58 and began surfing at 52. My only regret is that I didn’t take up surfing even earlier in life.
(That’s me surfing 2 years ago, ago 56)
We receive emails from people of 50, 60 and slightly less often of 70+ all asking the same thing about age and suitability. Surfing, after all, has a reputation for young dudes hasn’t it?
When we opened Swell in Cabarete, on the North coast of the Dominican Republic back in 2009, the first thing my husband and I noticed was that the people who were choosing our surf camp were older than we had been expecting. We had not even considered that there were this many ‘older’ people who wanted to learn to surf. It blew us away. Our website, in the beginning, was geared up to the audience we had been expecting, but as the ‘older’ surfers kept coming, we adapted, changed our website, and our mindset. Our average age at Swell is now 40; when you think about it, that means we have as many 50-year-olds as we do 30-year-olds. It’s pretty incredible and we are super proud of the fact that age is no barrier when you want to learn to surf. It just isn’t.
I’m pretty confident that you have heard the saying, 70 is the new 50. Whatever the age, it’s a fact that we are living much longer than a few decades ago. I’m no medical practitioner but I am 58 and I can see that being 70 years old is not far away. Barring a debilitating illness, I don’t see myself giving up my water sports any time soon. I began kiteboarding at 41, surfing at 52 and I’ve just started wingfoiling at 58. I’ll probably try the next new water sport that comes along, as long as my body lets me keep trying.
AM I TOO OLD TO LEARN TO SURF?
Let’s be really honest here, it’s definitely a bit harder on the body learning to surf at 50, 60 or 70+ than it is when you are learning to surf at 30 years old. But with good basic preparation and realistic expectations, it’s absolutely possible.
And if you have a desire to do it, then the health benefits are extraordinary. In fact, surfing is one of the best all-around fitness activities you can possibly undertake. It generally has low impact, it’s good for cardio, good for muscular strength (and let’s face it as we get older, our muscles can really benefit from being used more rather than less), and perhaps most importantly, it’s really good for the soul. I’ve left many a bad mood on the beach when I enter the water. Surfing has a tendency to connect you to nature and forget about all the other stuff. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling when you catch your first wave, even a little white water ride, it’s incredible and trust me, if you are 70+ it will probably give you more of a thrill than if you were 25.
So if you are someone who wants to ask the question, ‘I am too old to learn to surf?’ let me answer that here and now: No, you are not too old to learn to surf. Neither are you too old to ‘fit in’ with the surfing crew. As I answer every client who sends that question my way if you have the desire, it’s enough: It already puts you in the ‘crew’ before you’ve ridden your first surfboard. And, just as these wonderful Australian ladies in the video Taking Off demonstrate so well, it changes lives and always for the better.
NEED MORE INSPIRATION FOR LEARNING TO SURF AT AN ‘OLDER’ AGE?
Come and try it, regardless of your age. We look forward to teaching you how to surf and changing your life too! I’m on hand to answer any questions or doubts you might have about learning to surf as an ‘older’ person.
Clare, co-owner of Swell surf retreats
Sidenote: It’s not just surfing that you can learn later in life, I have also just started my first lessons in Wingfoiling, I will update you on that progress here too.