Age does not weary them.
Quick disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list. These are five surfers that continue to display a high level of performance well into their 50s. Sure, there are ‘legends’ missing from this list like Gerry Lopez, Gary ‘Kong’ Elkerton, Turtle, and others. But this isn’t a ‘Top Surfers to ever walk the planet’ list. This is about who still got game…now. So without further ado here are our top five surfers over 50.
Michael Ho & Derek Ho
At 59 and 52 respectively no two Hawaiians have dominated Pipe as much as Michael Ho & Derek Ho this season. Whether it’s Derek threading second reef bombs at Pipe or Pops’ late drops at Backdoor the pair ooze that classic Hawaiian style and appear indestructible.
On the button of 50, Californian native, Brad Gerlach has done it all. Ranked number 2 in the world in 1991 and one of the best tow-in big wave surfers in the early to mid-‘00s. With a technique that remains first class even surfers on the CT (Conner Coffin) are lining up for his pearls of wisdom. Gerlach continues to evolve with a hand in surf label Banks and a book due for release sometime this year, he remains one of the most hip cats in surfing.
What could be written about Tom Curren that hasn’t been before? At 52 he is one of the sports most revered and influential figures. It doesn’t matter if he picks ups a skimboard or a faithful Merrick whip, Curren continues to demonstrate that neither his bones or his mind are showing any signs of slowing down.
At 55, the pocket dynamo is still mixing it with the best of them. We marvelled at his performance during Pipe Masters Heritage heat, are routinely left slack-jawed at his bulldog approach to Waimea at the Eddie and are still wondering how he and Ross Clarke-Jones survived four seasons of Storm Surfers. Durable and bursting at the seams with enthusiasm we love you TC.
Love him or loath him there’s no denying that Laird Hamilton is still pushing the sport. Focused and intense he commanded tow-in surfing for years at Jaws, rode the millennium wave at Teahupoo and is now developing hydrofoil SUPs at the ripe age of 52. Trends seem to follow Laird, though we’re not sure that this one will catch on. Stay tuned for a feature with Laird in the upcoming issue of Tracks.
Honourable mention: Clyde Aikau
Sixty-six-year-old Clyde Aikau was the oldest competitor at the 2016 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. And he charged. It was to be his last event as a competitor opting as he said, “To go out on a high.” Well do know what retirement looks like? He plans to surf Pe’ahi telling Surfer last year, “I’m in no rush in surfing Jaws, but it’s just something that I need to do. I tow-surfed it at 25 feet, but I haven’t paddled into it. The last event they had there, I had no doubt that I could have rode those waves. No doubt. But, I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, and I know what I can do.” Good lord.