7 Surf Legends Still Smashing it over 50


Look, ‘you’re only as young as you feel’ – we get it, but understand this; unless you are in tiptop condition, as soon as you bypass your mid thirties (gone in an instant) it is a lot harder to be an ‘athlete’.

Nobody is saying you can’t get in better condition or are now fitter than you’ve ever been, f**k-no, you go girlfriend, good on you. All we are saying is that is more difficult (for a multitude of reasons but for the purpose of this ‘article’, physically). Especially for pro athletes, as the young thrust of new-comers appear behind them, all energy and determination.

The Laird Our Father. GETTY IMAGES

Surfing is a healthy fitness pursuit but it’s also much more than that. There is something spiritual about sitting in ocean, just you and a plank. Also it’s well fun! We don’t think we will, nor would we encourage ever mounting your favourite board on to a wall and calling it a day on your surf adventures. 

Thankfully, it appears that a lot of our surf heros feel the same. They made their name as pros but despite retirement from the circuit they are still ripping it up. Here is just 7 of them and why they are still smashing it at 50+ years old. There’s cause for optimism…and nostalgia.


Lisa was prolific as a pro in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s. She did more than her fair share of kicking the stereotyped view of women’s surfing square in the jewells. And she was Punk as funk! Not the kind of person you would say ‘you can’t’ to. Just one month after giving birth to her first sprog she made the final of a World Surf Tour event in Japan!

After running away from home and spending a lot of time smoking weed as well as a little stint in the slammer she focussed her goals on becoming the best. And she was, hell she’s easily made this list of surf legends (over 50) Her surfing would be best described as fast and aggressive with tight turns made to look easy – A mix of Tom Curran and Kelly Slater in female form.

Lisa is still an active ambassador for Roxy, throws a load of siiiiiick shapes on Instagram and is the subject of a documentary created this year called ‘Trouble’ which is well worth a watch.


If Corky isn’t a household name then he fricken should be. The guy was five times US surf champion between 1966-1970, yeah the US, over the pond, them with that massive population, FIVE TIMES! He is regarded by many (including Surfline) to be the first real pro. 

In the late 1960’s his ‘Hobie Mini’ board was the first production shortboard in the US. He also had a 10 year stint as advertising director of Surfer magazine in the 1980’s. 

He is still tearing it up in the ocean into his 70’s, reiterating his ethic in his new book leased in July this year (2019) entitled: ‘Not Done Yet’


The first surfing millionaire thanks to a 1989 Quiksilver contract and a lot of hard work and kicking the s**t out of the pro circuit throughout the 1980’s before ‘retiring’ in the early 1990’s. He was still doing a f**kt-ton of Storm Surfers into the turn of this decade. 

The guy makes the surf legends list if for nothing more than continuing to contribute to this sport we love, whether it’s for documentaries on The Discovery Channel or by popping into an artificial wave centre to tear it up and show all the groms how it’s done.


AKA Mr Pipeline. Born in Hawai’i (obviously), Lopez lives for tubes. He spent most of the 60s making his style THE style for tube riding. In the 70s he was widely regarded as the best tube rider in the world, winning the Pipeline masters in ’72 and ’73. Watch any of the Lopez footage from this time in slo-mo to be instantly aroused. It’s hard to believe this dude is 70+, there’s vids of him in his late 60s treating pipes in ways the average Joe would give a bollock to be able to do. His steezy style makes it look like he’s not even trying. Frustrating as hell for the rest of us. 

He’s had pretty varied career: he was an influential shaper in the 70s, improving designs that set what boards looked like for years to come (especially for tubes); he appeared alongside Arnie in Conana the Barbarian (no joke); he was in the film that set in celluloid what surf culture was to look like for the next few decades (big Wednesday); and he also happens to be a sick snowboarder and SUP rider.

For all this surf legend’s stories from the horses mouth, check out his memoir ‘Surf Is Where You Find It.


Stop what you are doing right now and watch this on Youtube. This makes the guy instantly one of the worlds surf legends. You see Mac dominates big waves, he rode that epic wave in Nazaré whilst in his mid 40’s and continues to scale these mountains right now at 52. You’d think he would be a crazy, wide-eyed, son of a gun with a penchant for Point Break style adrenalin rushes but he comes across so mindful and driven. 

What makes him a further legend is that he now uses his status and following to do good. Starting a family (and likely a number of other factors including urgency) he is on a mission to inspire ‘warriors of change’ to reduce plastic pollution and give back to the underprivileged youth through surfing projects. Check out his website

Interesting fact: For that wave’ Mac was being towed in by none other than UK big wave legend and North Devon resident Andrew ‘Cotty’ Cotton  


Occy, Occy Occy. Arguably the most charismatic on the list, probably the funniest. The Raging Bull. A true icon.

Marco Jay Luciano “Occy” Occhilupo was pro, ranked third in the world, at 17, world camp in 1999, and took part in the So Sri Lanka Pro this very year at the age of 53 (admittedly after a few years out the water…again). 

Seemingly always slightly under threat from himself (drugs and depression leading to bouts out of play) he’s forged in incredible career of peaks and troughs. A goofy footed hero of the sport. Sometimes ridiculously funny, sometimes brow-furrowingly (is that a word?!) wise, he’s always someone to keep your eye on. 

Even his name is cooler than yours (no offence, it’s just true), Occhilupo being Italian for ‘eyes of the wolf’. Yeah. I know. 

For some insights into the most successful chunk of his career, check out The Occumentary, Jack McCoy’s film about the man himself. Or for some more up-to-date surf chatter check out his podcast Occ-Cast.


What do we say about Laird Hamilton (always referred to in the AS broom cupboard as ‘The Laird, Our Father). Probably the most highly regarded of surf legends. He isn’t human, but good for us he thinks that he is. Similarly to Lopez he has this symbiotic relationship with the pocket which is the envy of, well, everyone. He paddles in to waves that others get towed into even at his age. In fact he was one of the earliest pioneers of tow-surfing (before likely deciding he was stronger than the jet ski). 

Never been on the pro circuit, he didn’t fancy it (seeing it all first hand via his step-father Bill Hamilton – another legend). Rumour has it that his surfing was highlighted when people wanted to find out how he got such a ripped bod as a model for Vogue. Turns out it was because he was ridiculously good at surfing (and likely ate a whole chicken for breakfast). 

He is a fitness freak, in the age where surfers developed a bit of a reputation as stoners and drop outs, Laird was the absolute antithesis. Clean living, eco friendly, the ultimate waterman. 

Don’t take our word for it, hit up a Youtube search and see him riding a multi-storey carpark of a wave on a windsurf, foil, SUP & body surfing. 

If you are a Pearl Jam fan too and want instant arousal check out this Iconoclasts documentary. You’re welcome. 


Seven surf legends, still tearing it up beyond 50. There’s hope for all of us. And before you write in moaning, Kelly Slater is only 47, give him 3 years and he might make the fold. Until then this is one championship he won’t be dominating.    




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