I’d seen ‘Al’ out in the surf or around the beach car park on a regular basis. He’s sort of part of the landscape if you’re checking the surf first thing in the morning. He’s getting his shortboard out of the back of his ute or his sleek looking Celica. The thing is, I originally pinned him for being in his 50’s.Then someone told me how old he was. He’s actually 71! While most ‘older’ guys are into the Mal thing… the fact that this guy was sporting a pretty high performance MR board under his arm (when guys 20 years his junior were lugging 9ft boards down to the water) got me interested…and I started paying a little more attention. The more I watched, the more I realized that Al has a great sense of trim (surfing fundamental No.1 ) as well as fitness, enthusiasm and a pure unadulterated love for just being out there. It then struck me that he is probably the long term surfing goal for most surfers if you ask them where they’d like to be in 30, 40, 50 years…not only still surfing…but surfing well!.so I decided to strike up a coversation
Al was born on the 4th August 1936. He was good at sports at school, particularly swimming ,sprinting and gymnastics. Al also recalls having a natural aptitude for climbing trees…He spent 10 years riding and racing push bikes all over England and Europe. After retiring from bike riding at the “ripe old age of 26” he came to Australia as a tourist in August 1961. It was at Bondi, where he was sharing a flat, that he saw the first of the malibu surfboards and thought “that’s for me” he went out and bought a balsa board from Mick Simmons in Sydney and took to the water. "I found out it was a bit harder than it looks (eds note: nothings changed in that department Al) …and “after surviving a few near drownings, put in the time necessary to master this new sport” Al has also dabbled in sailing and orienteering, but always liked to jump in for a surf on the board.
“I, together with Rickey DeRouter from Bondi, now of Scotts head, spent 1966/67 at Durban in South Africa” Al said he has always gone with the design trends and ridden the latest thing in boards…“if other people can ride a certain type of surfboard, then why can’t I?”…Al ,although never winning a world title, describes his surfing ability as “sort of not bad to goodish at times”. “How I got onto Mark Richards boards, was that I had a local (short board) board that was too small to paddle and I was missing too many waves in the Umina slop. As I was looking after a job in Newcastle about twelve years ago i lobbed in to Mark Richards shop. The great man himself was there and promised to make me a board that would paddle easier. And so in the last twelve years I have asked Mark to make me a board each winter to the latest going shape. The last three have been the concave bottom ones that I still have. On my 70th birthday board Mark signed it. A 6’8” thing. I am now the first of the concave bottom boards , a 6’5" job. I also have a 6’7"…Alan"
Thanks for the info and more importantly the inspiration Al !!!
pure inspiration. nice post scuppers.
wow, cool i just wanna add my boys to my trips.
Great post, very inspirational. This is the stuff I think about when I’m struggling on board trying to make it out back.
he should be in the freaking hall of fame
where can i get an “Al” poster for my wall?
thanks for posting
Thanks for the positve vibes on my first post guys…
I’ll try and take and post some more pics of Al, and find out any of his secrets or tips for his surfing longevity…
I’ll tell him you all said G’Day !
I think I’ve seen that guy! It was in Umina/Ocean beach, that was about 5 years ago,
we were waiting around for Box Head to get fun and he was so stoked. Totally an inspiration…
You’re the greatest!
I’m 40, I really hope I’m riding my 6’4" in 30 years.
givem a shout for us.
not too loud(ly)
mmm, unless of course.
a delicate thing,
age and swimmers ear.
ah might just be better to let im surf.
Al’s living the surfer life we would all like to emulate at that age. He’s certainly not immune to all the maladies and pain that comes with age, but look at him! Very inspiring. Thanks for the post.
You go Al ! It would be intersting to know what design characteristics MR considered for a 71 year old surfer. There has been extensive discourse on what will make surfing more rewarding for the over 50 surfer. Do you move up in length ( Al hasn’t gone the tanker route at 6’ + ) ? Are Al’s boards a little thicker and wider? Just curious as I am over 50 ( 54 5’ 9.5" 170lbs ) and had a frustrating day paddling a few days ago on my 6’1" x 20 x 2.85 swallow. First day this year in a wetsuit probably didn’t help any but I am looking making a it a little longer next time and would be curious to know more about what Al rides.
What an inspiring thread…
Find out more 'bout Al’s board someone…someone on here must know MR …get some info…
(Course - it might just be that Al’s a freak of nature!)
Only a few weeks ago, i talked to an older bloke in the water at my usual spot. Turns out he’s just retired, at 65, and, like Al, he was on a shortboard. Made me ( 27 ) feel pretty unfit on my 7’3’’ ha!.
P.S I’ve since taken my 6’2’’ out, just to make myself feel better haha!
I spoke to Al the other morning at Umina and got some more info…the boards are pretty well what I’d ride (I’m 34 about 180cm and weigh about 80kg)…He’s a bit lighter…maybe about 70kg. The surf this particular morning was nothing to write home about so Al was going for a run along the beach and a swim…instead of a surf…but he had this 6’7 with him so I took a few pics.
He told me that we are all ‘built’ differently…and he was always active cause thats just how he was designed
He told me that running was good cause it shook up the joints and muscles which forced the body to respond to that stress. His basic phliosophy is that if you don’t use your muscles regulary they deteriate with age and " the body had a remarkable ability to respond to stress and heal itself.
It doesn’t look like it but he said he eats like a horse!..a trait from his bike riding days. descibes his diet as average…not to much processed sugar or salt…doesn’t smoke or drink, apart from the occasional glass of wine.
got the feeling the secret to his longevity is pretty simple…keep doing as much as you can…keep moving!! and keep surfing!!!
If I can actually manage to be doing this in 37 years time I’ll be friggin stoked!