World’s Oldest Surfer Still Rides Waves at Age 89

89-year-old Seiichi Sano holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest surfer on Earth, but what makes his feat even more impressive is that he only took up the sport at age 80!

They say surfing is a young man’s game, and it’s easy to see why. The water sport requires a combination of balance, coordination, and speed, all of which decrease considerably later in our lives. Add the fact that one has to pull themselves out of the water onto the board and then into a standing position and you’ve got a sport that doesn’t really appeal to the elderly. But there are exceptions, the most notable of which is Seiichi Sano, an 89-year-old Japanese man who was recently crowned the world’s oldest surfer by Guinness Records.

Photo: Tim Marshall/Unsplash

“I am not a good surfer. So I call myself a ‘small-wave surfer’ — out of respect for those who surf well,” Sano told the Associated Press in an interview at Enoshima Beach, an area of relatively small waves near Yokohama.

Seiichi Sano started taking surfing lessons only 9 years ago, after conquering Mount Fuji, the highest mountain peak in Japan, for the first time. He was looking for a way to challenge himself while staying in shape, and he was inspired by a bank employee who always looked tan and didn’t seem like the typical office worker. The man had told him that his secret was surfing, so Seiichi decided to give it a go himself.


The octogenarian’s instructor admitted that he was both surprised about Seiichi’s desire to learn how to surf, and worried that he might injure himself in the process. To his pleasant surprise, he proved to be just as good as the man’s young students.

“People tell me surfing is dangerous, but I had far more scary moments in a car than on a surfboard!” Sano told Guinness Records.


“Holding the Guinness World Records certificate, I feel for the first time I have been acknowledged for something,” the 89-year-old surfer added. “And it’s making a lot of people – including the bank manager who made me think about surfing – happy. Whether it be surfing or world record titles, it’s the can-do attitude that will get you there, not logic. Don’t complicate things. Just think that even this old grandpa’s done it – you should be able to achieve something as well!”

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