By Kirk Owers | 10 September 2012
Our own David Sparkes getting better (and deeper) with age. Pic: Kirk Owers
How do you get better as you get older? Is it even possible? The aging surfer is virtually a taboo subject in our youth-orientated sport/lifestyle, but with the tour being dominated by charging veterans, including a 40-year-old world champ, I figured it was over-due for a shakedown. For the latest retro-themed edition of Tracks I spoke to the tour’s oldest ever surfer, 41-year-old Taylor Knox, the wonderfully unconventional Derek Hynd and the legendary Simon Anderson to get their thoughts on the subject. I thank them again for their insights - not everyone I contacted was comfortable with the inferred senior status.
One man I didn’t approach for the Surfing Forever story lives just down the road and round the corner. Tracks gun writer and photographer Dave Sparkes turned 50 over the weekend and is surfing, shooting, painting, writing and living as vigorously as ever. Dave may be best known for the surf photography and split screen images which appear in Tracks and his own book (“The Wave”) but he’s also a very good surfer in his own right (for an old bloke). As you can see in these photos of him getting tubed at a favourite haunt over winter. Happy Birthday Dave!
Coincidentally, a mate offered his own self-improvement theory over the weekend. He’s no guru as you’ll gather by his very practical advice. If you want to improve as you age, if you want to surf better, be fitter and become an all round better human, you’ve got to be a bit of a devil as a young man. Drink too much, eat bad food, sleep late and stay up all weekend. That way, when you start your middle aged health kick – and you will, don’t think it won’t happen to you - you’re starting from a very low base. The only way is up and up. Compare that to the position of a pro athlete who has been training and dieting and stretching since they were an early teen and the only direction they can head is down and down.
Life is a marathon, as they say.