We’ve teamed up with Jeep, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, to shine a spotlight on some of the ultimate renegades from the world of action sports – past, present and future. Lauded by big wave surfers like Jeep Brand Ambassador Andrew Cotton, Laird Hamilton is one of the pioneers of the tow-in movement. But that’s just one of the crazy contributions this maverick has made to the world of water sports over the years
There aren’t many people who can claim to have made history in their sport; to have redefined it and driven its progression without having regularly competed at the top.
But Laird Hamilton isn’t like many people.
The San Francisco-born innovator invented the foilboard, championed stand-up paddling and windsurfing and helped pave the way for big-wave surfing to become a globally-recognised movement.
“If you’ve only got one bike and it’s broken, what do you do? You learn how to ride it broken…”
It’s perhaps not entirely surprising though. Hamilton has been going against the grain his whole life. His mother moved him to Hawaii as an infant, and as a tall, blonde, aggressive kid, in a mostly native Hawaiian neighbourhood, he stuck out like a sore thumb.
But if he was somethign of an outside,r he was also a phenomenally talented surfer. In fact, he could have been riding on the World Championship Tour by the time he was 17, but having watched father-figure Bill Hamilton endure the politics of the waves, he decided to pursue a more creative path, eschewing contests altogether.
“I hate being told what to do,” he tells us. “I don’t want to be told to go in a competition. I feel like I’m a naturally aggressive person and those environments weren’t the best use of my skills.