Why you should surf your way into retirement
No one wants to get older and everyone wants to know the secret to staying young. Unfortunately ageing is inevitable, but could surfing be the key to keeping your body young?
Research suggests that surfing can help with back pain as you age as well improving your overall fitness. The good thing about surfing is you can do it at your own pace, take it easy, or push yourself as hard as you like.
We asked a ‘wiser’ member of the Gold Coast surfing community to share a bit of history and tell us why he thinks surfing helps him feel young. Brian Beban is the father of Tim, the owner of The Surfboard Warehouse. He is super fit and at 72, we don't think he looks a day over 50!
Brian, I bet surfing has changed a bit since you started, how long have you been surfing? I bought my first surfboard when I was 18, 54 years ago. It was an Atlas Woods 9ft. A mate of mine and I bought one each. It cost me about 5 week’s salary! I lived on the West Coast of the South Island NZ and we were the first boardriders on the West Coast.
First board. Atlas Woods 9’. Circa 1962. With 3 mates on Cobden Beach. From left. Keg Kavanagh, Brian Beban, Dave McKane and Tubby Cain. Tubby and I have our new longboards, his a Quane Custom 9ft 2 and the other 2 are hollow wooden Duke boards which were clumsy and useless. The day was cold and the water freezing. No wetsuits or boardies in those days on the West Coast, hence the cut down pants and dick togs.
We taught ourselves, as there was no one to teach us and I think our friends thought we were a bit eccentric as the Tasman Sea was considered really dangerous. Often, we’d be waiting for the surf to come down in size from out of control double overhead, just so we could get out.
We learnt to surf the 9ft mals, which were standard back in the early 60’s. The water was freezing most of the year, especially without wetsuits, which hadn’t been invented for surfing, so we surfed mostly in late spring to early autumn. Leg ropes weren’t around either, although we did invent a leash connected to the big D fin, using a piece of car tube like a big rubber band.
Do you think surfing helps you feel young? Surfing has always been important to me. I’ve always loved the ocean and lived on a coast. Surfing gives me the ability to feel freedom and the power of the ocean. I enjoy the thrill of the drop as much as I did when I was 18. My son has surfed from age 5 and my grandchildren aged from 6 to 10 years also surf well. We surf together and I feel like I’m part of their lifestyle. Being out the back with them waiting for a wave is the joy of my life and age does not matter (except they can paddle on to more waves than I can hope for).
It keeps me fit and active with fresh air, sea and sunshine all making life so much more worthwhile and enjoyable.
How do you maintain your surf fitness? I played squash up until 4 years ago when I had a temporary shoulder injury. It was the other sport I started at 18 and was great for fitness and flexibility. I walk regularly and jog occasionally, but gardening on a large sloping block also keeps me fit. I aim to keep at it for as long as I can.
Surf trip 2013 to the Maldives at Rip Tides.
After 54 years of surfing do you still feel the same stoke as you did when you began? Surfing is really a sport and lifestyle combined. A love of the ocean is important. The ocean is not forgiving and respect for its conditions was an early lesson in the big surf of my hometown. With respect comes the confidence one needs to relax and enjoy the waves. Nowadays, I enjoy my surfing as much as when I was young. I have gone back to a longboard over the last 5 years as this allows me to sit out further and paddle onto waves that I was missing on a shortboard. The new design longboards are far different than the big clumsy logs of the 60’s, but the thrill is the same. Getting my share of waves at my age is a great feeling and being able to surf boards my son has designed - with input from me - makes it even better. Life is good.
While surfing with my mate, Tubby Cain, on a perfect glassy day in the early 60’s, I said “ This is so good. I’ll be doing this until I’m 60.” Tubby replied, “ Don’t be so stupid Beban. No one lives that long doing what we do.” I’m glad to have proved him wrong.