Laird Hamilton Part 1
American Big wave Surfer and water sports man
Laird Hamilton - Amazing man with amazing water sport history
Laird Hamilton en Foilboard
@Courtesy Photos by Oxbow
@Courtesy Photos by Oxbow
Laird was born in San Francisco on March 2, 1964, in an experimental bathysphere designed to ease the mother's labor. Laird and his mother, Joann Zyirek Zerfas, moved to Hawaii when he was still an infant, after the departure of his Greek birth father, L.G. Zerfas, before his first birthday. Even as a child Laird showed an unquenchable thirst for adrenaline; footage has been released of him jumping off a sixty foot cliff into deep water at just 7 years old. While a young boy, Laird met legendary 1960s surfer Bill Hamilton on Pupukea beach of the North Shore of Oahu; and introduced Hamilton to his mother. Bill Hamilton went on to marry Joann, and become Laird's adopted father, eventually moving the family to a remote valley on the island of Kauai. Joann and Bill had a son, giving Laird a younger half-brother (and surfer), Lyon. JoAnn died of a brain aneurysm in 1997. Hamilton thus grew up in the 1960s and 1980s in what is known as one of the greatest surfing locations in the world, the north coast of Oahu as a playground with a legendary surfer as a father and coach to mold him into the art of conquering big wave surf.
By the age of twenty, Laird Hamilton had already become an accomplished surfer and could have easily left modelling to pursue a different career on surfing's World Championship Tour. However, competitive surfing and contests never appealed to Hamilton, who had watched his father Bill suffer thoroughly in organized championships. Bill Hamilton regarded surfing more as a work of art rather than based chiefly on performance. As a young Hamilton once said, "Contests are less about the one big wave than about your performances. Surfing is about your body of work. It's about art. I would snap if I was letting someone other than the audience determine my fate. How does a musician judge his thing? By how many people love his music?"
In the 1987 movie North Shore, Laird Hamilton played the antagonistic role of "Lance Burkhart."
Despite further success in modeling during the 1980s, Hamilton, with his professional surfing upbringing, had always intended to venture into a life of surfing. But Hamilton's rejection and disposition toward the contest circuit meant that he had to devise an alternate route to fame and international recognition.
An early attempt at media recognition was his quest to be the first surfer to complete a 360 loop while strapped to his board. The attempt was chronicled in the ski film Groove - Requiem in the key of Ski by Greg Stump (1990). In the early 1990s with Maui's legendary 'Strapped' crew, a group of eight or so friends that included fellow all-star Rush Randle, which aimed to push the restrictions and boundaries of contemporary surfing. The Strapped crew amazed spectators by tackling bigger wave surf and featuring stunts. Stunts included: launching 30-foot (9.1 m) jumps on sailboards, then mating the boards to paragliders to experiment with some of the earliest kiteboards. The video "Strapped" chronicles their feats.
@Courtesy Photos by Oxbow
In late 1992, Hamilton with some of his companions, such as Darrick Doerner and Buzzy Kerbox, started using inflatable boats to tow one another into waves which were too big to catch under paddle power alone. The technique, which would later be modified to use jet skis, was a revolutionary innovation. Tow-in surfing, as it soon became known, pushed the confinements and possibilities of big wave surfing to a whole new level. Although met with mixed reactions from the surfing community, some of whom felt that it was cheating and polluting, Hamilton explained that tow-in surfing was the only way to catch the monstrous sized waves such as those that can be seen at Jaws (Peahi) off the coast of Maui and the coastline of Tahiti. Using tow-in surfing methods, Hamilton quickly learned how to survive 70-foot (21 m) waves and carving arcs across walls of water that could literally sink ships.
In 1994 he appeared on both ESPN and the cover of the magazine which gained him attention from a number of sporting agencies who recognized his potential, landing an exclusive sponsorship from the French beachwear company 'Oxbow' surf.
However, in 1995, Laird Hamilton's life took an unexpected detour. Hamilton met professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece in Los Angeles, California after a television interview. He went on to marry Reece in November 1997.
In 1996, People magazine named him one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, and he replaced Reece as correspondent for the syndicated cable series 'The Extremists'.
By the late 1990 Hamilton was continuing his love affair with the water by windsurfing, waterskiing and developing his kitesurfing abilities as a pioneer of the sport. In 1996 Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularizing kitesurfing off the Hawaiian coast of Maui.
In 1999 Laird Hamilton sailed his windsurfer between the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai, some fifty miles away, in just under six hours. He later sailed his windsurfer back again. Hamilton has also been credited with inventing the foilboard. The foilboard is an innovative surfboard which incorporates hydrofoil technology allowing a higher degree of precision and effectiveness of aerial techniques within the water. Most recently, he has become the most public practitioner and proponent of stand-up paddle surfing, an ancient Hawaiian technique that requires an enormous longboard and a long-handled paddle, as well as considerable skill, strength and agility. Some "purist" surfers have blasted him for this, but Laird Hamilton has called it a return to an old, traditional Hawaiian way of surfing, some say practiced by King Kamehameha and his queen Ka'ahumanu almost three hundred years ago.