Rediscovering Laird: A Hawaii News Now Exclusive - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rediscovering Laird: A Hawaii News Now Exclusive

Laird Hamilton Laird Hamilton
Laird Hamilton braves a gigantic wave Laird Hamilton braves a gigantic wave
"The Wave" by Susan Casey "The Wave" by Susan Casey
Laird Hamilton with author Susan Casey (on right) Laird Hamilton with author Susan Casey (on right)
Hamilton with his family Hamilton with his family

By Keahi Tucker - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Laird Hamilton's actions clearly speak louder than any words.  But it's his words that remind us the world's greatest big wave surfer hasn't lost his aloha.

"Aloha, nice to meet you," he says with a big smile and a firm handshake as fans walk up to him on Waikiki beach.

"I thought you were 10 feet tall," says one man.  "No", Laird responds, "I'm just like everyone else."

Of course, we all know that's not true.  In fact, Laird is not like anyone else.  Which is why the latest book about him has been on the New York Times bestseller list for the past month.  And as he returns home to Kauai for the winter, it's truly the beginning of another chapter in human achievement.

"I think there are waves really that we don't even know are good for surfing", says Laird.  "If we get some freaky angle and a giant swell you're going to see a place that you've never even seen break."

When the giant winter swells begin to show up, Laird will be ready.  At 46 years old, he says he's in the best shape of his life.  And not just physically, but mentally.

"I feel like if you look at a man, a mature man of 40 or 50, they don't get any tougher.  They don't get any stronger. I feel like thats when a man really becomes mature at that age."

But as mature men everywhere are surely nodding in agreement, not too many head to work at a place nicknamed "Jaws".  Laird admits it's not always easy, but not because of the surf.

"Nothing like having some daughters, (saying) 'daddy please dont leave and i love you'.. to melt you down."

The man brimming with testosterone is surrounded by girls, including his cover-model wife, Gabrielle Reece, and three daughters, ages 15, 7 and 3.

"I don't think I've really had a full night sleep in 15 years," he says with a laugh. "I love it.  Having kids, I think it's part of fulfilling your entire life."

Someday when Laird is done chasing giant surf, and inventing new ways to ride it, he wants to do more to promote health and wellness. 

Yet another chapter to be written, someday.  That brings us back to the book he's in, 'The Wave', written by Susan Casey, who spent 5 years traveling with Laird and his crew searching for mythical 100 footers.  The kinds that sink ships and wipe out villages.

"For a long time there weren't physics that could explain it," says Casey.  "And there are still conditions under which it happens and we still don't even know why."

In the book's climax Laird and his tow-in partner Brett Lickle survive a disastrous wipeout in 100 foot surf at a spot called Egypt, off Sprecklesville, Maui.  The story of Lickle's life-threatening injury, and Laird's heroic effort to save him are astonishing.  Adding to the legend - there are no photos, only the stories from a handful of witnesses.

"I always say describing a wave in words is like trying to describe a color in words. It's pretty tricky," says Laird.  But the book makes you feel like you're there on the jet ski, part of Laird's gang.  That's as close as most of us will ever get to a man who not only lives for the adventure,  but has dedicated his life to chasing new ones.


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