A good pal of mine named Don Craig has a very cool company called Old Guys Rule. I have some of his T-shirts and a coffee mug. And it is that very coffee mug that gave me the inspiration for today’s column.
I had been thinking about this subject anyway, as I am almost getting to that “old guy” area. But I am actually not thinking about just “old guys,” I am thinking of “really old guys.” I am a mere gremmie in comparison to some of the surf geezers I have known and a few who are still going strong.
Take Rabbit Kekai. This dude lived to be 96 years old and surfed regularly until very close to his passing in 2016. He kept in great condition and was one of the more “stoked” dudes I ever met. Not too many people surfed as long or to as old an age, or with as much skill, as Rabbit. There was also a dude named Pops Proctor who lived out of his panel truck at Doheny State Park well into his 90’s and still got in the water most days. Surfing into your 90’s is an amazing accomplishment as it is such a physically demanding activity.
But it’s not just the physical demands that make it such a feat, and this is the part that really interests me. It’s to keep the “stoke” up to actually keep getting out there and doing it day in and day out. So many people lose that desire for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s just life’s demands, family and job and all that. For many I think it is the physical toll that surfing takes on you. It’s hard on your body, and as you get older and things start to break down on you, your stoke ebbs away until you just stop surfing.
Backs are a prime reason — it seems all older surfers have back issues and it gets harder and harder to pop up to your feet. Walter Hoffman, a friend and great surfer, is one of my all-time heroes. He is getting into his 80’s a fair bit and is still actively charging it. But he has a heck of a time getting to his feet; sometimes it takes half of the ride to finally get up. He has…