Never one to back down, Laird Hamilton continues to push himself—in every environment.
Laird Hamilton is many things to many people. To the fitness junkie, he’s the co-founder of the elite training camp on Kaua‘i, Extreme Performance Training (XPT)—a cutting-edge workout program that ranges from immersive experiences and multi-day retreats to one-on-one workshops. He also launched his own clothing line called Laird Apparel, which takes ath-leisure clothing to a new, fashionable level. And to health-conscious coffee aficionados, he’s the name behind the leading line of superfood creamers, coffees and hydration enhancers at Laird Superfood—one of his latest endeavors, which he started just three years go.
“Laird Superfood is definitely at the forefront of my attention given the success it’s having,” he says. “I have a tendency to be a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” but I end up having a bunch of different projects, and whatever one has the most energy behind, it, I focus on.”
Hamilton, 54, grew up on Kaua‘i’s North Shore and has always been tuned into the mind/body connection. “Being raised in Hawai‘i and this environment, you become conscious of sleep, good water, sunny days and all the benefits you get from a more holistic lifestyle. When you start to realize how fortunate it is to have all of those different facets, it really plays into your overall wellness,” Hamilton says.
To surfing super fans around the world, he’s the man who has been called “the sport’s most complete surfer … and the best big wave surfer in the world today” by Surfer Magazine, and the star of the recently debuted, award-winning film Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, that documents Hamilton’s remarkable story and rise to surfing royalty. His other film credits include acting as a stunt man and surfer in The Descendants, Water World, Die Another Day and the new Point Break.
To big wave surfers, he’s nothing short of a legend. As a professional surfer, Hamilton has been the main influencer behind surfing innovations like tow-in surfing and hydrofoil boarding. He pioneered his own style on his board, riding some of the biggest waves on the planet and performing groundbreaking stunts on waves as high as 80 feet tall throughout his remarkable career. And Hamilton is nowhere near finished conquering the next big wave.
“The most challenging [professional] pursuit I’ve had is trying to ride the biggest waves in the world—the difficulties of that process and the discipline, determination and patience that it takes … But it still manages to retain my attention and has me wanting to continue to pursue it.”
The number of buckets Hamilton has been dropped into continues to grow. He’s known around the world for his role as author, model, fitness icon and entrepreneur; but to one California family, Hamilton is so much more than a celebrity or businessman.
He’s a hero.
On April 14, 2018, the Gwilliam family was forced to spend the final day of their vacation on the North Shore of Kaua‘i inside their rental home along the river. On that day, the worst storm in recent history hit the island, dumping a record 28 inches of rainfall in less than 24 hours. The storm did so much more than merely put a damper on their otherwise sunny family vacation; it left the Gwilliams stranded after the rain washed out a nearby bridge and sunk all roads leading out of town beneath two feet of water.
Unbeknownst to them, the Gwilliams had rented a vacation home across the river from the Hamiltons, who sprang into action after learning the U.S. Coast Guard wouldn’t be able to perform any rescues in Hanalei. Without a second thought, Hamilton manned the wheel of the same personal watercraft he had used in the past to catch giant waves, only this time his intention was to catch the Gwilliams family before it was too late.
Not only did he manage to bring the family to safety, but he also went on to perform 75 other rescues throughout the next six days, including a group of 15 young girls that were left stranded during a sleepover at a nearby surf camp.
Hamilton’s heroics came as no surprise to his North Shore community, who helped him and his wife, professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece, rally during the storm to help rescue everything from people and pets to bison and family heirlooms.
The couple has called the area home for years and currently in the process of building their own place there. Literally. Hamilton says, “I’ve built four houses from scratch. I can do a certain level of every aspect of the building process … These house projects, I design them, put the waterlines in, dig the foundations, build them from scratch—I start from raw land and go all the way to finishing them. I like doing that—that’s another one of the facets to the wheel.”
Kaua‘i is where they first experienced the purest meaning of ‘ohana (i.e., community and/or family). It’s also where they raise their daughters and run their many business ventures and philanthropic projects for half of the year (the other half is spent at their other home in Malibu, Calif.).
Hamilton is the heartbeat behind numerous non-profit organizations—including the Surfrider Foundation, Race Across America, Pipeline for a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis, Rain Catcher, Muscular Dystrophy and City of Hope—where he uses his passion for people and community to extend the spirit of ‘ohana to the rest of the world.
“In the pursuit of trying to get, you realize that the best thing you can get is to give,” Hamilton shares. “For me, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy giving, that giving is a great thing, whether it’s of your time, your knowledge or monetary. The sooner people start to do that, the sooner they will feel accomplished.”
For more information on this altruistic athlete, lairdhamilton.com.