How To Regain Your Stoke
by Corky Carroll
Today I thought it would be a good time to deal with an issue that plagues many older surfers, and some not that old as well. When you have surfed for a reasonable amount of time and have reached a decent level of skills you feel pretty confident that those skills are gonna stick with you forever. But then, for some reason or another, you stop surfing and don’t come back to it for a long time. And when you do there is the reality that the skills you used to have are just not there, or at least not the same. I hear many people saying they don’t want to get back into surfing because they will have to “learn all over again,” and it’s just too hard when you get older. And, for the most part, this is true. You do have to learn most of it all over again and it is hard. No doubt. But, it’s also really fun and very cool to do. Soooo, is it worth it to you or not?
But then there is a completely different way to look at it and this is what I want to bring into the conversation today. Learning all over again is not that bad a deal. I am going to give my own experiences with this issue as an example.
I have dealt with a bad back for decades that just kept getting worse. I have severe stenosis in my L3, L4 and L5 area, plus some other stuff that I never can remember the name of. Over the years I have done little tweaks to it that have kept me out of the water for from a few days up to a few weeks. But I was always able to take it easy and be able to surf again when the current issue eased up. Until I couldn’t. One day I was just standing up on a small wave and I felt it go. It did not get better and as time went by I was trying to come to grips with the fact that I was probably never gonna be able to surf again. Not long before this happened I had the chance to surf with my lifelong pal and mentor, Mickey Munoz, out on the East Cape near Cabo. He was surfing a SUP and surfing it extremely well. He was 75 at the time and he told me that switching to the Stand Up Paddleboard is what allowed him to keep surfing.
So, I gave it a shot. At first I was not loving it. The boards are big and hard to turn and the whole thing was like “learning to surf all over again.” But then it just kinda clicked in one morning that learning how to surf all over again was actually REALLY FUN. Instead of being an old dude with declining skills I was like a kid who was getting better at it each day. I embraced this and started having a blast and learning more and more how to surf on one of these. As I got better I found that it was really fun and the different techniques are really very cool. Soon I was surfing pretty decently and started designing SUPs specially for surfing. Totally a gremmie all over again.
Then a little over a year ago, early Sept 2019, I started having issues with my heart that put me down for pretty much the entire time up until the beginning of October this year. It finally let up enough where I could go back in the water and surf again. But, a year off and with zero exercise during that whole time had taken its toll. My balance was off and I am having to build back up my energy level. I found myself falling off the back over and over. But each day it got a little better and I was falling off less. Turning what could be a very frustrating situation into a positive one I reminded myself of how much fun I had learning to surf on the SUP and that this was pretty much just the same kinda deal, learning yet a third time. In the middle of it I got a new board that is faster than the last one so, at first, I fell off the back even more. But I just had to laugh about it and remember to learn forward more on the next wave. Now I have one month back in the water and each morning I wake up stoked to go surfing. I am 73, way overweight, lack of breath, pacemaker in my chest and just flat out stoked to paddle out every morning. Just like I was when I was 10. Learning all over is not that bad. Those of you who are thinking about it should just give it a go and see how you feel. If nothing else it just is so nice sitting out there waiting for a wave. There is a lot of peace in that.