We'd lovew that job - performing surfer

Laird Hamilton, big wave pioneer, rides giant waves miles out to sea. They are so large he has to be towed in behind a jet-ski.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I specialise in riding the biggest, most severe waves in the world, like the 80-foot waves of Tahiti. Surfing is about self-expression. On the pro circuit, your success is governed by other people's opinions, and a lot of the time they suck. So I don't compete - I get exposure by performing and by making movies of what we do.

HOW DID YOU GET THE JOB?

Perhaps I lacked the braincells that tell you it's dangerous. I grew up at Pipeline, in Hawaii, the epicentre of surfing in the late '60s.

My father, Bill, was a famous surfer, known for his beauty and style, and I had a natural inkling for it. When I was four, I was getting rescued every couple of days. I was surrounded by the great-big-wave riders and learnt to surf on the bits of broken boards that got washed up in the shore-break.

DOES REALITY MATCH THE DREAM?

Yes. I'm my own boss and lucky to be making a living at what I love.

It's super-demanding, takes an intense amount of focus and leaves you emotionally and physically drained, but that's the excitement. In most sports I'd have been finished five years ago, but big-wave riding demands experience and maturity, and it's only in the past five years I've got respect for what I do. I'm at the top of my game, and lucky that I didn't have to die before people appreciated my art.

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