World renowned waterman Laird Hamilton is known as the guiding genius of crossover board sports, and is largely considered the primary influence behind many surfing innovations, including, tow-in surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, and hydrofoil boarding. Surfer Magazine has labeled Laird as, “the sport’s most complete surfer, displaying almost unnerving expertise in a multitude of disciplines, and flat out surfing’s biggest, boldest, bravest, and the best big wave surfer in the world today, bar none”.
At 6’3”, 215 pounds, with an uncommon combination of balance, flexibility, and strength, Laird Hamilton has transcended the sport of Surfing to become an international fitness Icon. His first book, Force of Nature – Mind, Body, Soul, and, Of Course, Surfing (published by Rodale Books in 2008)has become the go-to manual for people looking to make a healthy lifestyle change. In just its second week of release, it appeared 7th on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Many professional athletes, such as NBA star Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls basketball team, now go to Laird for training guidance, including instruction on a unique underwater resistance training workout he has developed. Laird, along with his wife Gabby Reece, have recently developed their own line of premium nutrition supplements, marketed under the name TRUition, as well as also recently launched a popular fitness, nutrition and motivational support website which offers comprehensive guidance on healthy living, and has quickly developed a strong worldwide following.
Laird’s passion for fitness extends to the sport of cycling, and in 2009 he participated in the RACE ACROSS AMERICA. His participation in this 3,000 mile cross-country bike race benefitted such charities as Beautiful Son Foundation for Autism, Pipeline for a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and Muscular Dystrophy. In addition, Laird has also pledged his support to the Surfrider Foundation’s Not The Answer Campaign, and he is featured in both their 30- and 60- second PSAs urging President Obama and Congress to reinstate the moratorium on offshore drilling.
As an icon for adventure sports and advocate for ocean conservation, Chanel recently announced Laird’s selection as an ambassador for their new J12 Marine Watch. John Galantin, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chanel Inc., remarked: “Laird’s daring spirit and love forthe ocean are in perfect harmony with the inspiration behind the J12 Marine watch. We are excited for him to bring his energy, original style and fearlessness to this iconic watch.”
In addition to being surfing’s highest profile big wave surfer and Chanel spokesperson, Laird’s international visibility has grown over the years due to many movie, television and other media appearances. Laird had a small, but dramatic role in the feature film The Descendants, directed by Academy Award winner Alexander Payne, opposite George Clooney. In late 2009, Laird guest-starred opposite comedian Jay Mohr on CBS’s Gary UnMarried, as well as other guest starring television roles. He was featured in an ABC Nightline News profile in 2010. Previously, Laird has also sat with Leslie Stahl for a 60 Minutes segment highlighting his artistic and athletic exploits.
Beyond Laird’s dramatic role in the Descendants, Laird has also been featured in many surfing movies and documentaries. Laird was a featured surfer and an executive producer on the Summer 2004 theatrical film, ‘Riding Giants’, by Sony Picture Classics. The film looks at the history of big wave surfing. Laird was also featured in the film, ‘Step Into Liquid.’ Other theatrical credits include Laird doubling as James Bond in the MGM film ‘Die Another Day’ and serving as the stunt coordinator for the film’s big wave sequence.
Laird has also been featured on TV as a host on Fox Sports Net’s, ‘Planet Extreme Championships’ (2000), on the Outdoor Life Network (1999), and in ‘The Extremists’ (1996-97), where he took incredible risks while air boarding, rock climbing, kite surfing and jet-ski surfing. He is featured in the documentary film ‘Endless Summer II’ (1994). Laird’s filmmography also includes ‘Waterworld,’ (stuntman), ‘North Shore,’ ‘Night Waves,’ ‘Totally Committed,’ and ‘Five Summer Stories.’
‘Path of Purpose’, a short documentary about Laird’s endeavor with his tow partner, Dave Kalama, to help fund and raise awareness for Autism, premiered on the Sundance Channel in July 2008. The last surf release, entitled ‘Water Man’, and distributed by Video Action Sports, premiered in film festivals in Spring 2008. The film garnered attention by winning awards at the film festivals and taking home Best Cinematography at the 2008 Surfer Poll Awards.
Photo shoots with sponsors have taken Laird around the world from the Caucasus mountain range to snowboard, a jungle preserve in Indonesia with a world-class surf break just offshore, to the Great Barrier Reef. He can be seen profiled on the CBS News show ‘60 Minutes’ and on the cover of magazines such as National Geographic, Outside, The Surfer’s Journal, Men’s Journal, Surfer, Surfing, and in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, People, Life, Time, GQ, Interview, L’Uomo Vogue (Italy), Paris Match (France), Surf (Germany), High Wind (Japan) and Sailboarder.
Laird has been credited with the huge growth in popularity of Stand-Up Paddle Surfing, most often referenced simply as “SUP.” As such, Laird has also been profiled in both Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal about his role in the evolution of stand-up paddling and paddle surfing. Time Magazine has said of Laird’s influence: “It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the
modern explosion began, thanks to big wave surfer and exercise guru Laird Hamilton picking up SUP and publicizing it as a simultaneously adventurous, peaceful and a solid form of core conditioning for surfers and non-surfers alike.” With his vintage humility, though, Laird remains reluctant to call himself a trendsetter. The Wall Street Journal notes: “Mr. Hamilton declines to call himself the inventor of the sport because Pacific Islanders— and Italy’s Venetians—for centuries have stood in boats using paddles or poles.”
During his on-going big wave surfing career, Laird has received multiple awards and special recognition. In 2004, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association named him “Waterman of the Year”. He was named “Breakout Performance of the Year” at the Surfer Poll Awards in 2000 and was honored with overall “Rider of the Year” in France 2000 (M6). Laird was also awarded “Feat of the Year” at ESPN’s Action Sports & Music Awards in 2001, and People magazine named him “One of the 50 most Beautiful People” in 1996.
Laird is famous for doing all things extreme, and his cultivation as the world’s premier big wave surfer and renowned waterman began early. Laird is the elder son of 60’s surfing legend, Bill Hamilton, and is a throwback to that time when surfers prided themselves on being an all- around waterman.’ His mother, Joann, gave birth to him in a “bathysphere” with reduced gravity as part of an experiment at the UC Medical Center in San Francisco. Joann was also a surfer and decided to move the family from California to Hawaii when Laird was just a few months old. They lived on Oahu’s North Shore and later in a remote valley on Kauai, not far from one of the world’s best surf breaks. He learned to surf between the ages of two and three on the front half of a surfboard, and at age eight, his father took him to the 60-foot cliff at Waimea Falls where Laird looked down, looked back at his dad, and jumped. ‘He’s been bold since day one,’ says Bill, ‘and hell-bent on living life to the extreme.’
When he was twenty-two years old, Laird entered a speed-sailing competition in Port Saint- Louis, France, defeated the heavily favored French champion, and broke the European speed record of 36 knots. Even though Laird had a professional career as a speed-sailor, his true passion remained with big wave surfing. Looking for a way to ride even bigger and more powerful waves, he and his friends developed a method that involves using a high performance Wave Runner to tow each other into waves that are too big to paddle into on their own. So steep and furious, Laird was forced to fashion footstraps on his board to keep from getting bounced off, which enabled him to do mind-boggling acrobatics never before thought possible. “Jaws Maui,” a book published in 1997, features spectacular photography of Laird doing aerial liftoffs and 360’s.
Today, Laird spends winters surfing the outer-reefs in Hawaii with his friends and uses his years of knowledge of working with different board designs to catch the giant waves he’s famous for mastering. Beyond the prototypes Laird develops for himself, Laird uses his design expertise to help produce highly demanded commercial stand-up boards with several leading surfboard manufactures. Laird’s passion for the extreme only continues to grow, “Bigger. Higher. Faster. I
want to ride bigger waves. I want to try and invent some new sports, combine some existing ones. I want to be creative,’ says Laird. With an eye on taking his extreme boarding talents to dry land, Laird is currently refining an electric powered off-road skate board already capable of speeds over 50 miles per hour. What lies next is for Laird Hamilton is still uncharted waters.