Laird Hamilton (Photo by Tom Servais)
Big wave surfer Laird Hamilton discusses the bestseller The Wave, Andy Irons' death, and George Clooney's abilities on the board. To listen to the extended interview click here, or subscribe to our iTunes podcasts.
You helped author Susan Casey research her bestseller The Wave. How does it feel to ride a wave the size of a 10-story building?
It's a little bit like racing a car on a moving track. Definitely one of the most exciting things you can do on the planet.
As an eight-year-old, you jumped off a 60-foot cliff at Waimea Falls. Have you always been nuts?
A little bit, yeah. I'm missing the gene that tells you, "It's dangerous." But Bill Hamilton said big wave surfers are born and not made. I was fortunate to be raised in a place like Hawaii where I could use that daredevil trait for functional purposes.
What are your thoughts on the speculation surrounding Andy Irons' recent death?
At the end of the day, does the cause of someone's death change who they were or what they did? In my mind, no. Dying is easy. It's the living that's hard. And Andy made more of an impact on the surfing world in his lifetime than a lot of other riders combined.
How do you balance being a husband and father with the dangers of big wave surfing?
Pretty normally. Dad just goes to work, where he happens to be riding giant waves.
You were in our 2002 Shape of Your Life workout plan. Eight years later, has your routine changed?
It's always adapting. Good fitness is always growing. A lot of my training involves pain, whether through stretches or standing on golf balls. It makes your life better. When you can catch twice as many waves as a 20-year-old, you have to laugh.
You obsessively listen to music before hitting the beach. What's playing these days?
I was real small today so I had some Gypsy Kings going. But I've got a 20,000-song iPod. When the surf's bigger, the music gets harder. I bust out some Jimi Hendrix "All Along the Watchtower" to get my heart-rate up.
You're featured in the upcoming George Clooney movie The Descendants. Is he now ready to tackle a giant wave?
George is a gentleman. He can do anything he wants to do. But I'm not pushing him. When he's ready, he can call me. That way it's not my fault.
Extended interview? Download 7 Questions with Laird Hamilton podcast