Seiichi Sano: the Japanese surfer who started riding waves at 80 | Photo: GWR

There's an old cliché that says that "surfing is for life." However, we tend to forget about the ones who actually make it happen.

Being old is a gift. It means you've made it far in life. You were granted the opportunity to cherish life. Older people are unique human beings.

The alternative to not being old is to die young. And to stop surfing at an early age.

But in the following case, there's something strikingly curious about the senior man you're about to know about.

Seiichi Sano, a native of Hokkaido, Japan, born on September 23, 1933, didn't touch a surfboard until he was nearly 80.

And at 89 years old, he got the illustrious title of being the world's oldest surfer. Confused? So were we.

Humble Japanese Beginnings

Seiichi's journey, which recently caught the attention of renowned platforms like Saturday Night Live, begins in Hokkaido.

After his secondary education, young Seiichi relocated to Tokyo, joining a wireless telegraph school.

Navigating a post-war environment, he dabbled in myriad professions, from cabaret staff to a doorman at a club for foreigners.

Seiichi recalls, "I had nothing on my CV, and I had no one to back me up."

Yet, fearlessness characterized his early life, noting, "I had no fear, though."

It wasn't long before Seiichi ventured into the timber industry. He took the reins of his business, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

He attributes his business acumen to instincts and inspiration, remarking, "Business decisions I made were based on instincts and inspiration rather than rational thought, although those instincts and inspiration probably came from years of experience."

Seiichi Sano: the Japanese surfer is more agile at 90 than many at 30 years old | Still: Olympics.com

A Leap into the Waves

The bustling life of a business owner left him with scant personal time.

However, as he neared 80, a chance encounter with a tanned bank manager, whom he initially presumed to be a golfer, changed the course of his life.

Upon inquiring, the manager whispered, "I surf."

Inspired, Seiichi found himself three days later, clad in a wetsuit, standing on the beach with a surfboard.

His entrance to the surfing world wasn't a mere pastime.

Soon, he became a fixture on the waves, even during the biting winter months.

"People tell me surfing is dangerous, but I had far more scary moments in a car than on a surfboard!" he quipped.

Instead of pursuing mastery in conventional surfing skills, Seiichi derived joy from simple moments like his signature 180-degree jump on the board or merely sitting and reveling in the ocean's vastness.

In other words, he can switch stance effortlessly. Can you?

Seiichi Sano: the Japanese man was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest male surfer | Still: Olympics.com

The Guinness World Record

Seiichi's perseverance in the waves paid off. As of July 8, 2022, at 88 years and 288 days old, he was recognized by the Guinness World Records (GWR) as the oldest male surfer.

This recognition didn't merely amplify his personal achievements but was a beacon of inspiration for many.

"Holding the Guinness World Records certificate, I feel for the first time I have been acknowledged for something," he mused, adding,

"Whether it be surfing or world record titles, it's the can-do attitude that will get you there, not logic."

His story, imbued with a sense of humor and zest for life, even made it to Saturday Night Live's iconic "Weekend Update."

Co-host Colin Jost jestingly commented on Seiichi, saying, "He truly embodies the surfing lifestyle because every part of his body hangs loose."

A Lifelong Learner

Yet, Seiichi isn't one to rest on his laurels. Days before his 90th birthday, videos emerged of him trying to surf on one leg in a wave pool.

The septuagenarian surfer's candid nature shines through when he admits, "My heart is pounding," before attempting the trick, and later, when he doesn't quite master it, stating, "I'll have to work on this one."

Seiichi Sano's story is an emblem of defiance against age stereotypes and an inspiration for all.

He encapsulates his life philosophy best when he says, "You do it for three days, then you take a break, and you do it again for three days, and so on."

"If you go into new things with a mindset that you don't have to continue trying forever, I think most people actually continue for a very long time."

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