January 26th, 2011
The 40-Year-Old Virgin Surfer
October 23, 2017
By Terri Roberts
I’d always wanted to learn how to surf. I just didn’t get there until phrases like maturing skin and middle-age spread became part of my regular vernacular. Suddenly, there I was doing pop-ups on Tamarindo beach next to feisty 12-year-olds. And while I look back at my limber 20-year-old body with nostalgia, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Surfing gives what you are open to take, at any age. I think some of the best things about it would have been lost on my younger self. Things like mindfulness, the peace that just finds you as you paddle out passed the break, the incredible connection to nature, and the feeling you get when you catch a wave. Still, it would have hurt a lot less.
If you think you’re past it, and that surfing is best left to well-oiled millennials, consider the following. You might want to trade in that cruise holiday for a longboard after all.
Namaste your way to nimble.
If you’ve ever needed a gentle nudge back into the loving arms of a yoga studio, this is it. Strength and flexibility are super important for surfing. In fact, the better shape you are in, the better the experience you’ll have. So hit the mat, the gym, or the pool before you catch a flight to WRSC.
It keeps you present.
Just try to think about your to-do list when you get on a surfboard and see how long it takes before you spill. Surfing demands your full attention. And rightfully so. You have to size up the waves, perfectly time your pop-up, then try desperately to stay on. The power of now can’t be overstated when you are about to be tossed into the washing machine. Best to keep your head way, way out of office.
Fall into a nature-induced coma every night.
A day of surfing is equivalent to a hundred thousand tiny sheep. Your mind and body will be perfectly blissed out after all that paddling (and wipeouts). Though you’ll enjoy the post-surf beers tremendously, and the Tamarindo party game is strong, you’ll be hard pressed to stay up past 9:30pm when you hit the waves at sunrise. Sweet dreams.
Learn to embrace the suck.
If you’re closer to retirement than college graduation, chances are, you’re probably not going to light the lineup on fire for a while. Embrace it. It’s good for you to suck at something every once in a while. And it won’t be forever. By the end of the week you’ll be catching plenty of waves. Which is exactly why you’ll keep going back for more.
Free battle scar souvenirs.
Last time I was at Witch’s Rock, there was a pretty major swell on. It was a little above my paygrade. For three days straight, every time I came out of the water something was bleeding. Though your guides will keep you safe and never leave your side, expect a few dings. Besides, you’re of a certain vintage. You can handle it.
Robert August is 70.
Actually, the Endless Summer legend is 72. And he still surfs. When he’s not on the water, he’s carving up custom boards at Witch’s Rock as their resident board designer. You can even order one. Go ahead, make it as big and buoyant and as forgiving as you like. No judgement from him. Or me.
One surf camp fits all (ages).
Witch’s Rock is a great place to grow your surfing skills over time. The Beginners program takes you from clueless to catching baby waves all on your own. As you advance, you can roll into Intermediate and start surfing 3-4 foot waves all around Guanacaste Province. Once you turn semi-pro and start using words like stoke in everyday life, you might be ready for the Advanced program. That’s the beauty of WRSC – it grows with you. No matter how old you are.
TERRI ROBERTS is an associate creative director/copywriter at Ray Agency in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. She’s a fan of unruly ocean hair, post-surf beers at El Vaquero, and longboards.