Hawaii Surfers Surfing Past 60
Silver Surfers: Meet five surf legends who, in their 60s and 70s, still hit the beach.
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Who’s to say. But certainly her skinny-surfing days are behind her. Aren’t they?
“I don’t want to say I might never do that again,” she says. “I might. Not for a picture, though. It’d be just for fun.”
Randy Rarick knows there will come a day when he can’t paddle out at Sunset Beach anymore, but that day hasn’t come yet. In the meantime, he’s surfing Sunset every morning and most afternoons, waves permitting.
“If there’s anything rideable, I put in a minimum of an hour in the water, even if it’s crappy,” he says.
Rarick is 62, and surfing has dominated his life for five decades. It’s his business, his vocation and his pleasure. He works through the winter as a surfboard shaper and as a surf-contest organizer, and, when summer flattens the North Shore, he chases the Southern Hemisphere’s winter swells. For most of his life he’s been seeking waves in such far-flung places as Angola, Namibia, Ghana, Albania, Greece and Lebanon, and he may very well be the most well-traveled surfer on the planet.
As executive director of the Triple Crown of Surfing, Rarick is the “voice of authority” on the North Shore. He’s the Establishment that the young rebels get to grumble about. But when he’s just out surfing, he’s a role model for longevity, the ancient dude who not only paddles out at Sunset, but continues to rip. “I’m still surfing, I like to think, as good as ever,” he says. “But I’m not as physically fit as I was at 40. The bar is lowering.”
While physical decline is inevitable, it’s not as if Rarick has found no benefit at all from the five decades of surfing. “Experience makes a huge difference,” he says. “You learn the lineups, the rips and the swells. You know which waves to take off on and which to pass on. You get more picky and particular. It almost becomes like picking a fine wine. You don’t want to pick any old rot-gut anymore.”
One of the keys to Rarick’s long tenure on the North Shore—aside from owning a house at Sunset Point, a 30-second walk to Sunset Beach—is the emphasis he puts on surfing simply for the fun and thrill of it. Believe it or not, not all surfers are so motivated. In his 35 years as a contest organizer, he’s seen the terrible toll that “ego-driven surfing,” as he calls it, has taken on one generation of pro surfer after another. “It astounds me when guys find that they just can’t surf as well as they used to and they give up surfing,” he says. “I find that so odd.”
Rarick learned to surf in Waikiki as a child, and Waikiki figures prominently in his surfing retirement plan. “When I can’t surf Sunset anymore I’m going to move back to town and finish my surfing career where I started,” he says. “I’ll just come full circle.”
If you want to see what a lifetime of surfing combined with the physically demanding work of a roofer can do for you, take a look at Jock Sutherland. At 63, he’s in better shape than many his age even realize is possible. And all he does to stay fit is surf, work, stretch a little and maybe go for an occasional hike with his girlfriend, he says.