Surf’s up for Seiichi Sano! At 88 years and 288 days old, Sano, who lives in Japan, set a Guinness World Record for the oldest person to catch a wave.
“Holding the Guinness World Records certificate, I feel for the first time I have been acknowledged for something,” Sano told Guinness World Records in March of his accomplishment, which was verified on July 8, 2022. “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!”
While Sano is a surf lover today, he didn’t discover the hobby until his golden years.
He took up the sport in his eighties after conquering Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, seeking to embark on another adventure.
Sano was also inspired to try surfing after an interaction with a bank manager he worked with who had “really tanned skin.”
“I thought he may be a golfer, but when I asked him, he whispered to me, ‘I surf,’” said Sano. A few days later, he was in a wetsuit ready to take on the waves.
Surfing in one’s eighties might sound dangerous to some, but Sano feels safer on the waves than the roadway. “I had far more scary moments in a car than on a surfboard!” he said.
Plus, Sano doesn’t spend much time worrying about what other people think anyway.
“I’ve been told I am a fool. But it didn’t bother me because I always thought people who say that kind of things are fools,” he said, “I’m not perfect, but not too bad either.”
This mentality of prioritizing the experience over perfection also applies to his outlook on surfing. Sano isn’t focused on mastering surfing skills or becoming a professional. Instead, he enjoys simply soaking in the view while sitting on his board and doing some tricks (his go-to move is the switch stance) — no matter how long he stays up.
“I enjoy being swept up in the wave,” he told the Associated Press. “I am not a good surfer. So I call myself a ‘small-wave surfer’ — out of respect for those who surf well.”
In addition to being physically active, Sano remains active in his career, continuing to work a “9-to-5” workday at a business he runs.
There’s no question that, as the world’s oldest surfer, Sano is redefining what life can look like for older adults while reminding the world that exciting things can happen when we keep learning at every age.
As for what’s next? Sano, who turns 90 on September 23, hopes to have many more waves — and maybe even some rocks — in his future.
“I think it would be interesting to try to surf until I’m 100,” he told the AP, adding, “Maybe I’ll try bouldering.”
Seas the day, Sano!