I’m a surfer in my late 40s, a fact that stares back at me each morning as I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles creasing across my forehead and framing the corners of my eyes.

Most everyone I know tells me that I need to give up riding a shortboard and instead focus on surfing longboards. But I can’t. That fact has less to do with stubbornness and delusion and more do to with the difference in how these surfboards perform. And I simply can’t quit the shortboard.

Yes, the waves here in Galveston are less reliably good for surfing on a shorter board. And on most days along the seawall beach-front a longboard is probably the correct quiver choice. But the feeling of surfing on a shorter surf craft is unmistakably electric-quick slices in the pocket of the wave, dropping in late as the lip comes cascading just behind me, the ability to arc sharp cutbacks and hear the spray landing in my wake. I love all of that.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy riding my longer boards. But it’s a different feeling, one that has come with a bit of resignation that age is dictating my board choice.

My compromise was to work with my local shaper to come up with a shortboard that splits the difference between the maneuverability of a shorty and the wave-catching wherewithal of a longer craft. My new favorite weapon in my quiver is a 6-foot-8 (yes, that’s still big by today’s shortboard standards) squash tail that’s plenty thick and wide. The five fin boxes give me the opportunity to experiment between thruster and quad-fin configurations, depending on the conditions I’m riding.

The result has been a board that allows me to catch and ride pretty much every size of wave we get here along the upper Texas coast, save for those summer days when the surf is so small the only choice is the biggest board you can find to glide into the calf-slappers.

Even better, the maneuverability gained by riding a shortboard is phenomenal with its inherent tighter turning radius and snappier, livelier responsiveness. I’m absolutely stoked every time I have a chance to glide a bar of wax across its deck and paddle out.

And, I’ll confess that perhaps the greatest benefit of this new board is that I don’t have to admit I’m a surfer in my late 40s. Anything it takes, I suppose.


DEAL WITH Facebook

The big news on the international surfing front this week was a deal announced by the World Surf League that it has agreed to begin streaming its live world tour events exclusively on Facebook.

The announcement was met with almost unanimous consternation because Facebook, up to this point, has been a less than reliable feed to watch the events. The video stream freezes up at the most inopportune times and the comments scrolling below the video are as asinine and inane as you might imagine.

For its part, the WSL says that it won’t stop livestreaming on its own sites until the live experience “is as good or better” on Facebook as it is on the sanctioning body’s web properties. Still, Dave Prodan, the WSL’s senior vice president of global brand identity, told online surf media outlet BeachGrit that eventually there will be a full migration to the Facebook platform.

The questions remains: How do surfers who want to tune in to the professional events but don’t have a Facebook account go about doing so? That’s an issue that doesn’t appear to have an easy answer at this point.

It seems pro surfing has entered the world of big money and social media, which is great if that ultimately ends up benefiting the surf athletes themselves. But, as evidenced with other sports (see college football), we know how this story unfolds.

Stephen Hadley is a longtime surfer who lives and works in Galveston. If you have an idea for this column, email him at stephendhadley@gmail.com.

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