Learn from your wizened elders!
As reported earlier, the Australian triumvirate of Rob Bain, Layne Beachley and Dave Macaulay shot hell out of a crackerjack field of icons, legends, gods of surf etc at the world masters champs in the Azores.
It was a contest that resonated, perhaps, due to nostalgia for a sweeter time.
What struck me, most of all, were the lessons a younger man or woman might learn from these giants of the game. Lessons that, if not a matter of immediate life and death, can determine future happiness.
- It’s easy to get fat: When you’re a kid your metabolism is a furnace and you can shovel, without fear of disaster, anything down your throat. As you age, that fire dims. Where you once dined like a king, now you must eat like a pauper. With a few exceptions, the men carted a tube of fat around their hips, some the rubber from a tractor. It ain’t called middle-aged spread for nothing. And who surfs their best with twenty pounds strapped in the middle?
- Sun is crueller to women than men: Already proven by science, but on full reveal in the Azores, the damn sun dries out the fragile, soft skin of a woman and turns it into a vicious prune. What’s Tom Curren? Fifty something and rough as hell? He has the skin of a bikini model of forty. Girls, if you’re not doing it already, cower from that giant grapefruit in the sky.
- Surfing don’t care how good you were thirty years ago. You could tell who was surfing most days and who had to brush the cobwebs off their surfboards: the hesitation on takeoffs, the botched turns, the very odd wave choice. You gotta work, sure, but find an hour here, an hour there to keep your instrument tuned. Can you imagine the mind-fuck of transitioning from world-class surfer to adult learner?
- Age don’t necessarily diminish your skill: Luke Egan, who is forty nine, and Rob Bain, a wizened fifty-six, were among those whose surfing was as fresh as it was back when Bill Clinton was screwing his way across America. It ain’t middle age that kills your surfing; it’s lifestyle.
- Even world champs can’t pull off a surf hat. The former world number two Dave Macaulay became the first world champion surfer to win the title with a surf hat strapped to his head. In my judgement, it wasn’t the most beautiful thing the world has seen.