Laird Hamilton is known as the guiding genius of crossover board sports, and he is truly amazing in the water. His size -6'3", 215 pounds - makes him seem indestructible. ‘Laird is the elder son of 60's surfing legend, Bill Hamilton, and is a throw back 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.'
Laird teamed up with Steve & Barry's in spring 2008 to debut his Wonderwall (thisiswonderwall.com) clothing line, a men's surf and skate line offering high-quality, comfortable merchandise at low cost. Having grown up in a single parent home, Laird knows what it's like to not have money. "My family was on welfare. If I lost my shoes, I wouldn't have another pair for a couple of weeks. So I can appreciate that people can't afford to buy stuff that everyone else is wearing," says Laird. "Guys that live the surf and skate lifestyle want to spend their time tracking the next big swell or finding a new skatepark, not worrying about having enough money for t-shirts and shorts."
Laird is also heading up a technical pro-model line with longtime sponsor, Oxbow. The Oxbow brand launched in the United States in summer 2008. Oxbow, an authentic rider/action sports brand, boasts a rich 25-year history with internationally recognized athletes.
Laird also joined H2O Audio's Board of Directors in 2008. Laird will be strategically guiding the company with marketing its brand and developing its next generation of surf/music products. "I have been an H2O Audio proponent for several years, and I am really looking forward to infusing my passion for watersports and music into future developments with H20," says Laird.
Laird is working on two books with best selling author Susan Casey. "100: Stalking the Giants of the Ocean" is due out in 2009 by Broadway Publishing Group. It's about the science of giant waves, 100 ft. or higher, and the surfers who try to ride them, an undertaking that often requires helicopters, wave runners and precise timing. "Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, Of Course, Surfing" is a fitness guide due out October 28, 2008 by Rodale Books.
‘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. A new film release entitled, ‘Water Man', and distributed by Video Action Sports, premiered in film festivals in Spring 2008 and hit streets on September 23, 2008. The film has already garnered attention by winning Best Cinematography at the 2008 Surfer Poll Awards.
Laird does all kinds of extreme things in the ocean from making epic long distance journeys on his ocean-going paddleboard to creating the fast forward speed sailing loop. 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. Today, he surfs the outer-reefs in Hawaii with his friends after years of working with different board designs to be able to catch the giant waves. Their method involves getting into a Wave Runner, taking a water ski rope, and towing each other into waves that are too big to paddle into. The craft flings them into the wave at full speed. Laird has footstraps on his board to keep from getting bounced off and to enable him to do some mind-boggling things like aerial liftoffs, including 360's. "Jaws Maui," a book published in 1997, features Laird in action and is filled with spectacular photography of the men who pioneered tow-in surfing. "Bigger. Higher. Faster," says Laird. ‘I want to go after the world speed sailing record. I want to ride bigger waves. I want to try and invent some new sports, combine some existing ones. I want to be creative.'
Photo shoots with sponsors such as OXBOW have taken Laird around the world: the Caucasus mountain range to snowboard, a jungle preserve in Java, Indonesia with a world-class surf break just offshore, and the Great Barrier Reef to name a few. He can be seen profiled on 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, GQ, Interview, L'Uomo Vogue (Italy), Paris Match (France), Surf (Germany), High Wind (Japan), and Sailboarder. In 2004, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association named him "Waterman of the Year". Laird 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 awarded "Feat of the Year" at ESPN's Action Sports & Music Awards in 2001. People magazine named him ‘One of the 50 most Beautiful People' in 1996.
He was a featured surfer and an executive producer on the Summer '04 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". Laird doubled as James Bond for big surf in the MGM film "Die Another Day" and served as the stunt coordinator for the film's big wave sequence. Laird has 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."
Laird's production company, BamMan Films, founded with tow-partner, Dave Kalama, and manager, Jane Kachmer, and cinematic directors, Don King and Sonny Miller, produce for film, television, commercial, and media companies. BamMan released ‘All Aboard The Crazy Train'to critical acclaim, which looks at the state of big wave surfing today. Other BamMan films include 'Laird' (2001) and ‘Strapped: the evolution of tow-in surfing' (2002), and ‘The Ride/The Day' (2004). BamMan's other credits: Associate Producer on Maui for ‘Riding Giants', production work on ‘Step Into Liquid', and produced television documentaries, ‘The Ride' (2004), ‘Ride the Wild Surf' (2001 with RDF in the UK), and ‘Ride on the Wave of the Gods' (2002 with NHK in Japan). Commercial productions include: American Express and Coty Prestige/Davidoff.
Surfer Magazine's editor, Sam George, in the magazine's ‘Most powerful people in surfing" issue said, "Laird is flat out surfing's biggest, boldest, bravest. He is the best big wave surfer in the world today, bar none. He is the sport's most complete surfer, displaying almost unnerving expertise in a multitude of disciplines: tow-surfing, bodysurfing, longboarding, paddling, sailboarding, kite-surfing."