Taylor Knox at La Graviere by Laurent Pujol

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

- Dylan Thomas

Words by Ben Mondy

Old Dylan Thomas had a point. Look at Kelly Slater, 40 years old and acting as if he’s been swimming in the Cocoon Pool and rooting Daryl Hannah. For God’s sake, he’s doing more rotations than a Chinese gymnast. Taylor Knox, Occy, Sunny Garcia, Tom Carroll; all on the wrong side of 40 and arguably surfing better than they did in their so called prime. I mean Gerry Lopez could get a free friggin bus pass, but still charges G-Land. Here’s a few reasons why there has never been a better time to be a middle aged surfer.

• It Keeps You Fit  - how else can you stay in any decent shape if you’re not surfing? Golf? The gym? Jogging? Forget it, they are either sedentary, or involve self discipline. Older surfers who keep surfing tend to be the leathery, wiry, lean fellas often with a salty smile on their face. The non surfers tend to be the ones with a beer gut and flabby jowls, trying to remember a time when they could see their cock.

• Boards are getting better - The current push for shorter, wider and thicker boards is a Godsend for blokes who remember Kylie Minogue’s 20-year-old arse. In days gone by, the only option for less paddling power and slower reaction times was a longer board. That was a slippery downward spiral, involving worse waves and fewer turns. Now shapers are pumping out state of the art models, whose thickness and width give old guys paddling power, yet whose manoeuverability let them crank their old fashioned larry laybacks.

• Golden Pass - There is a freedom to surfing that doesn’t go away. It truly allows you time to think about nothing else but the waves. And when the rest of your time is spent dealing with crying kids and wailing wives, or crazy clients or ball breaking bosses, that time alone becomes ever more precious, and ever more essential.  

You’ve a good 40 years left, what else are you going to do? - Lifespans are increasing, and some of the original surfers are still going strong into their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. If you are approaching 40, you’ve got half your life, to, erm, kill. By keeping surfing, you are pretty much sorted for the rest of your life. You may get slower, you may have more aches and pains and the size of the waves you catch may get smaller, but the thrill never dies. And frankly the alternative doesn’t bear contemplating.