'It's a sense of freedom': Senior surfers in N.S. aren't letting age slow them down
A group of surfers in Lawrencetown, N.S., is well-known in the area, thanks to their presence and dedication to the sport over the years.
Their pictures and descriptions hang on the wall of a Lawrencetown surf shop, along with the word "Wanted."
No crime has been committed and no search is underway.
However, if it was, you’d be sure to find the culprits on the beach. Their only crime is being pioneers in the local surfing scene.
“If you see them in the water you should give them respect,” said Jason Beach, owner of Kannon Beach surf shop. “They’re pioneers in our area and they deserve to be respected.”
Jim Leadbetter is one of the senior surfers. The 72-year-old became hooked on the sport in high school.
“And I’ve never stopped since. It’s just a great feeling,” Leadbetter said.
In the winter, the water can be cold, but he said going from a surf in the Atlantic Ocean to a hot shower almost gives someone a high.
“It’s like a spa. A giant spa,” he said.
Five decades ago, Leadbetter and his friends mainly had the waves to themselves. But in the last 10 to 15 years, the sport has gained popularity and COVID-19 has only accelerated that.
“You’re not close to one another. It’s safe from a health perspective and it’s just a very stimulating sport. Once you start it, it’s hard to quit,” he said
Lesley Choyce, 70, has also been surfing since he was a teenager.
“The inner me, the inner experience that I have surfing now is pretty much the same as when I was 13 or 14,” he said.
And if you watch him surf, it’s clear he still has it.
“The surfers were always kind of like, the lazy bums. The anti-social, partying too much, surfing too much, not working at all, kind of people. And we sort of aspire toward that, you know,” Choyce said.
Vic Ruzgys, 63, said his signature move is a nose ride -- a move when a surfer walks to the nose of the board, hangs their toes over the edge and rides the wave.
When he checked the temperature of the ocean, his thermometer read zero degrees. Still, he doesn’t think anyone is nuts for jumping into the Atlantic in the winter.
“I think you’re nuts to go to a ski hill and stand in a line to wait to go up on a chair lift for a little ride down a hill. I think that’s crazy,” he said.
“It’s a sense of freedom and kind of an escape from day-to-day realities.”
As for their age, they say it's just a number. These senior surfers say they are more interested in counting waves, knowing there are still plenty left to catch.
“I’ll give it up when I have to. Not until I have to,” Leadbetter said.
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