Boardriding veteran Gwyn Haslock is living proof of that. At 76, she’s Britain’s oldest surfer (that we know of!) and continues to hit the waves four times a week in Newquay, the birthplace of British surfing. Surfing the waves is “kind of like standing in the air, floating beyond it”, she said in her warm Cornish song. The very morning before a surf on Towan Beach, next to the town’s harbour, she had traveled the hallowed Cornish coast in search of the best waves between Porthcothan and Watergate Bay.
Finding the perfect conditions is part of his ritual: “Watching the sun shine on the waves, the color and the flowing water, sometimes you see a seal, nothing like that. I could stand and watch the waves all day. It’s lovely.”
Haslock started surfing in 1965 and in 1966 competed in the first ever British National Championships as the only female competitor. The business has become easier in many ways, she says. “Now we have stretchy wetsuits. Years ago we used to wear a woolen jumper in the water to keep us warm, and my first wetsuit was a wetsuit. It was really uncomfortable”.
“However, you catch a wave – that’s surfing”
The surf might even be better now than when she was younger. “I’m slower to get up if I catch the wave. But I’m enjoying it more now in some ways than before. I’m enjoying it more,” she says. Haslock surfs with grace and elegance and gives the feels like standing on a wobbly piece of foam effortlessly, but his advice for older surfers is to know what you’re capable of.
“As I get older, I don’t go out in the big waves anymore,” she says. “My ideal wave is 2 feet off. That’s what I appreciate. You do it within your limits; as long as you enjoy it, it doesn’t matter how big the wave is. And it’s not puritanical.” I still like to go out on my belly board, even if you’re riding a buoy or a lilo, if you catch a wave it’s surfing, you still feel the same way I can vouch for that, having paddled in everything, from misty seas and snow to bright summer nights and even when there is barely a ripple in the ocean – the release is always the same.