Chances are if you grew up in a coastal community with any kind of waves in the ocean, you were surrounded by the surf culture. Surfers not only commit to the sport, but they engage in their own way of life. This “club” or camaraderie that surfers engage in encompasses all things surf and ocean-related. The brotherhood that develops among surfers is like none I have ever witnessed.
“It is the tightest fraternity out there,” says Jacob Marz, a 65-year-old who has been surfing his whole life.
Most men (as well as women) who surf start at an early age, but will continue surfing well into their 70s or later. As long as the body allows, surfers generally never leave the sport. A healthy man in his 50s or 60s can likely be seen out in the water on a regular basis and, in my experience, they tend to be extremely fit specimens. Surfing requires upper body strength (for swimming) and core strength for balance. Not to mention, it takes some “cajones” to go out in an unpredictable ocean.
Older surfers will attest to the toll the sport can take on the body over the years, most notably back pain, knee and shoulder injuries, and sometimes head trauma.
Due to the territorial nature of the surfing culture, being an “old dog” or an original surfer at a home break can come with many perks:
Priority in the lineup — you get to ride waves before others
Friends and other locals to socialize with
Respect from the younger surfers
“There is a certain respect for the guys who have been around a long time,” says Marz. I also have an incredible amount of respect for the guys in my life who surf. They love the ocean and all it provides for them.
I sat down and talked to Jacob about his life as a surfer:
K: How long have you been surfing?
J: I started in 1969 in Huntington Beach, California.
K: What is it about surfing that keeps you so interested?
J: The mental and physical high you get. The only thing that would come even close to it would be sex or drugs. It just cleanses everything.
K: What are the benefits of surfing for an older dude?
J: It keeps you active, in shape, and mentally, it keeps you young.
K: Would you ever stop surfing?
J: Hell NO! Only if and when my body tells me I can’t do it anymore. Your body will eventually tell you to stop but your mind never does.
K: What are some of your favorite surf spots?
K: What advice would you give to a man over 50 who wants to try surfing for the first time?
J: I would say to go in with an open mind and just enjoy the moment. Also, realize its different than anything else you have ever experienced before.
It all sounds so good, I think I just might go take a lesson.