Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Learn to SUP surf at age 40, 50, 60. . . .

If you've ever dreamed of surfing but thought that maybe you were just a tad too old to go through the tough learning curve, give Standup Paddling a try. Surfing is one of those sports with the reputation of being only for young(er) people. Most of the older surfers have been at the sport for many years and have the skills to make up for any slow spots in their joints.

I had my first surf lessons last summer in Tofino, Canada at Surf Junction. At age 47, though generally athletic, I'd never surfed. Growing up in the small Southern Californian hamlet of Playa del Rey, I spent a lot of time playing in the water, so I had some level of familiarity with ocean waves. Nonetheless, my first time on my standup SUP board in the ocean waves I was freaked. Standing and surfing on a wave seemed almost impossible at first, then I caught my first wave. I was standing in waist deep water with a Laird 12'1". I jumped on, paddled and caught a wave. I glided into shore, the wave foam somewhere around my ankles. I was so stoked!! Compared to regular surfing, it was much less work for a ride. Within the hour I was regularly catching little waves. I was hooked!

And, as is my way -- my enthusiasm bubbled over. My friend, Judy Shasek tried my board last summer at the South Jetty in Newport, Oregon and got just as hooked. Here's a photo of Judy this July in Pacific City, Oregon. She's all focus on the wave. She's also a lot of fun. I asked her to share her thoughts about surfing and aging. Here's what she had to say:

"From the Summer of 1966 through most of 1968, Ed and I surfed every day we could at Hollywood beach FL. Our BIG WAVE DAYS were in the 2-3 foot range and we mostly had chop, never long lines or well formed waves. We transitioned to Hobie Cat sailing to catch waves and eventually switched to sailing, with some windsurfing when the kids were growing up. To re-discover surfing 40 years later – with good waves – is amazing. We feel very much the same as we did waaaay back in 1968 and are loving the experience of west coast surf. Being older – zoning in on age 60 next year – is a non-event in this surfing process. If you love the ocean, love the exhilaration of speeding over water, and simply have a ton of fun with very cool paddling/surfing friends then the surf experience is awesome at any age. Celebrating our recent 38th anniversary by catching some of our first Oregon Coast waves will go down as a favorite memory."

This month my friend Gary Yoder (age 54) was surfing with us in Crescent City, California on the North Coast. He recently bought a 9'6" Surftech Soft Top and was learning to surf for the first time ever. He hadn't been out much more than a time or two, so he was a beginner. I convinced him to trade me time on a Laird 12'1". (I thought it'd be fun to try traditional surfing.) By his second hour of board time on the Laird, Gary was regularly catching waves!

As for the traditional surfing, it's too much work. I'm back on my Standup, a Takayama 11'6. I LOVE that board. At first, I fell off it a lot in chop, but by the 2nd day I was much steadier. The Takayama picks up waves so easily. When my husband, Randall Barna rides it, he carves shoulder high waves with ease.

The first time I did Stand up Paddling last summer on flat water, my feet were practically frozen to the deck (but, I didn't fall in). Now, I'm practicing moves on the flatwater and every month or so getting a couple days at the beach to SUP surf. With less time in my schedule and tolerating less of a margin for the physical abuse learning a new sport often entails, Standup Paddling has opened a new world for my friends and me. See you out there!!!

Photos: 1. Judy Shasek on the wave. 2. Gary Yoder 3. Cristina Acosta (red hat) on a wave 4. Cristina Acosta and Gary Yoder on the Beach. Thanks to Ed Shasek and Katy Yoder for the photos.
Contact Randall
and Get the Standup Paddle Gear that's right for you. Email him at or 541-389-4547

No comments:

Post a Comment