How To Surf Till You’re 90

Doc Paskowitz takes a break between sets with Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. Photo: Aichner

Unfortunately, there comes a day in every surfer’s life where they throw in the figurative towel, put their boards back in the garage, and bid their adieus to the sport forever. For some, that day accompanies a mortgage, a family, a demanding job, a move to a land-locked location, or a severe injury. For others, like Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, the only thing to pull them from surfing will be death itself. At an astounding 90 years old, Paskowitz has yet to give up on surfing. Recently, he shed some light on the tricks that have kept him in the water since 1932.

“I can't really see too well any more, so I have to rely on my sense of sound and feeling when I surf. I can't stand up anymore either, so I just ride on my knees. I couldn't get in a wetsuit now, and I damn sure couldn't get out of one. So at my age, I only surf when I go to Hawaii. I just can't take the cold water anymore. But when I'm in Hawaii, I'll surf every day I'm there.”

“Every morning, between 6:30 and 7:00, I walk the beach at Salt Creek. I still feel that same sense of excitement I did when I first started surfing back in 1932. Even though I can't get in the water in California now because of the cold, I'll still tell someone about to paddle out to catch a good one for me. But I still feel the excitement.”

“I don't eat any sugar. I eat a low-fat diet, and I walk, walk, and walk some more. Staying healthy is more than just not being sick. It's about having vigor in your life. But you have to work for your health. I have five pillars that I stick to: Diet, exercise, rest, recreation, and attitudes of mind. You have to be positive, and you have to do all of those things every day. You have to work for it.”

“In life, you've got to move, move, move. It's hard for death to catch you when you're running. Death finds you a lot easier when you're always in bed.”

“When you're 90, every day is a new ball game. Your body turns into an old car—something is always breaking. One day it's your knees, another it's your stomach. That's why you have to take good care of yourself. A big problem is that people overeat too much for dinner. Just like if you drank too much beer or tequila the night before, you're gonna wake up the next day with a hangover, only this one is caused by food. Most people have to pull themselves out of bed each morning, and they stop waking up with vigor. If you don't eat too much for dinner, you'll feel better the next day.”

For more on Doc Paskowitz’s tips to staying healthy, see his book, Surfing and Health.