How Big is Too Big at 60-Years-Old?


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Updated 297d ago

By Nick Carroll

It’s a bit sketchy at 60. Like a few days ago, I was pretty revved up, put on a wetsuit and took Little Sister (the 9’8” Chris Christensen) down to south end Newport.

I had this idea that it had dropped a bit, but when I got down there I saw it’d surged again. Two guys were there before me, they tried to go in at a certain point, one of them fluked it and the other one was sent back in. I thought, sit and watch this for a bit and figure it out.

The sets were hitting every five minutes and blasting the whole area. The bombie I wanted to surf was booming every set, but how to access it? It wasn’t as simple as trying to headbutt my way out, you can’t easily duckdive a 9’8”.

So I sat with a mate who was watching with no intention of surfing, and let the rhythm of it sink in a bit, and watched for ways in.

The guy who got sent in came trudging back along what sand there was, looking a bit disconsolate. He was wearing a wetsuit with a bunch of flotation devices stitched into it. He came and sat with us, a talkative kid. His board, a light purple colour, was a 8’-plus Mauricio Gil with a minor crease two thirds of the way up. He was a bit blown away by Little Sister — especially her fin set, tiny quad GL tow fins made of G10 glass. I was in the conversation with him, but still watching closely. His mate who’d fluked it out had gone wide of the inside reef and was sitting a bit uncertainly, while 15-foot waves smashed the bombie.

Nick on a nearby wave, different session, but you get the picture.

Nick on a nearby wave, different session, but you get the picture.

I thought, I can see the way out now, around the back of the reef, paddle back across the crosswaves bit, then get into open water between the inner reef and the bombie. The way I’d used yesterday and many sketchy times before. Hidden from onlookers.

“Ok fuck it Im going,” I said to the other two and picked up Little Sister.

“I’ll come too,” said the kid brightly. Ok. So we rock hopped around.

“Keep going,” I told him. He went ahead while I took my time, watching sets and water movement.

The kid was a bit bewildered by where we were going but I encouraged him to keep it up, telling him what we were about to do, and he seemed willing enough. We got to the shallow easy water beyond the reef and I put my legrope on. The kid said in a quite serious tone, “What’s your name?”

“Nick,” I told him. “What's yours?”

“Luke,” he said.

We waded and jumped whitewaters till we were close enough, then went. It was piss easy. I got out quick and put some pressure on the paddling and got well clear. Luke behind me, I let him catchup.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“60,” I told him, and led him around the front of the bombie foam field. His mate was waiting on the other side. They hung back for a bit while I paddled around and out to the tip of the bombie reef, then after I’d caught a wave, came out and joined me. They wanted to talk, but I kind of opted out, stayed in the zone, and got maybe a half dozen serious bombs in an hour. I’m happy to surf with people but I dislike talking while surfing as a rule, specially when it’s big and you’re trying to stay tuned to what’s happening.

A couple of those waves were full on, lurching heavily on takeoff and really standing up. Little Sister loved it. She just eats that shit up.

Anyway I thought, WTF, I am 60 years old and how much shit has to come together for a surf like that to happen.

This article originally appeared on Surfline