Stab Magazine | Laird hamilton in esquires lessons
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Laird hamilton in esquires lessons

Though he’s perfect in the cheesy way Justin Bieber is, he don’t have the same infuriating aura. He’s as intriguing as Charlie Sheen, minus the drug problem and the pitiful self-justification. Come to think of it, he’s more like Mitch Buchannon (though his real-life antics aren’t as self-promoting as David Hasselhoff’s) – He’s a walking cliche, […]

style // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Though he’s perfect in the cheesy way Justin Bieber is, he don’t have the same infuriating aura. He’s as intriguing as Charlie Sheen, minus the drug problem and the pitiful self-justification. Come to think of it, he’s more like Mitch Buchannon (though his real-life antics aren’t as self-promoting as David Hasselhoff’s) – He’s a walking cliche, but the best kind. The kind you love. Laird Hamilton is what the rest of the world’s idea of a surfer is; Perfect teeth, golden hair, sculptured abs, an all-american in short shorts and a true Adonis (his dad was even Greek!)

Though Laird’s almost 47, he stills feels relevant (despite the art of towing-in, which he invented, being disregarded more and more by big-wave surfers), and feels manly as ever: “I’ve never felt stronger, never felt in better shape, never felt more focused, never felt more experienced. There are strong young guys. But there’s nothing meaner and more experienced than a fifty-year-old tough guy.”

Esquire magazine’s best column, What I’ve Learned, recently starred Laird. At a time in his life when he’s no longer young, here’s a few snippets of the lucid and honest collection of thoughts he offered:

Just because people are doing extraordinary things doesn’t mean they’re not ordinary people.

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to stand on golf balls and roll them along my arches. You have seventy-four hundred nerve endings on your feet, so you stimulate your whole metabolism when you do that.

When we first decided to try to ride Jaws, no one had ever ridden waves that big. Period. So we didn’t know if we were going into a black hole never to be seen again. Regardless of how it was perceived from the outside, we operated conservatively within the environment. We always say: Ride to ride another day. We go out there with the attitude that we’re going to do it in a way that we can do it again tomorrow.

Riding a fifty-foot wave for the first time is like the first time you go more than a hundred miles an hour in your car. Afterward, you can’t remember what was on the side of the road or if there were even other cars on the road. Once you’ve driven more than a hundred miles an hour five hundred times, you start to be able to look around.

When you make a mistake, the ocean gives you an instant reminder. You get punished. If golf clubs could shock you every time you hit the ball wrong, we’d probably learn how to play golf pretty well.

When I was a kid, the lifeguards would come to my mom’s house and say, “Well, Laird’s out at sea again.” She’d say, “Oh, no, he’s inside sleeping.” They were like, “No, he’s out at sea and we’re going to have to go get him again. That’s the third time this week.”

When you’re little, you ride a one-footer, then a two. Then a ten. It keeps evolving.

The Genghis Khan warriors used to have a rule that you never talked about injury. The way it translates for me is: Don’t train for what you don’t want to have happen. It’s like this: People say, “Oh, I can hold my breath for five minutes.” I say, “I wouldn’t be working on that because that might be something that you get tested on.”

Wiping out is an underappreciated skill. Look at any sport that has crashing or falling. Football. Motorbike. There’s an art to crashing. If you took a normal person and threw them into that situation, they’d be severely hurt. But the guys who’ve developed a certain skill at it hop right back up.

Surfing’s one of the few sports that you look ahead to see what’s behind.

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