Surf Legend Laird Hamilton Talks Wellness and Fitness in Miami

By Patricia Tortolani | August 22, 2018 | People

Big-wave surf legend Laird Hamilton visits Miami to talk wellness, fitness and the one thing that truly terrifies him. (Hint: it's not a 100-foot wave.)

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What does it feel like to slide down a mountain of water that is barreling toward a rocky shore at 50-plus miles per hour? Let the man who does it for pure fun explain: “When you’re in the act of riding a wave, you leave [the] self, and you just become part of something,” says Laird Hamilton, who is in town hosting a screening of his documentary Take Every Wave at The Palms Hotel & Spa to raise funds for the Surfrider Foundation’s Miami chapter. “If you ever just sit back and watch a bird fly, you feel that motion, that movement and that freedom. It makes you feel a little bit like you’re a wild creature; you become something that your normal life doesn’t allow you to do.”

Fear in the practical sense is not something Hamilton knows—or rather, not something he allows himself to experience. It would be an occupational hazard. “Being scared is dangerous [when you’re on a wave], so I don’t want to go there,” he says. What does stoke fear in the 54-year-old is what he feels in the air. “I’ve been connected to nature my whole life, so I’ve sensed the sickness of the planet,” he says, adding, “I think we forget that the Earth isn’t that big; the ocean isn’t inexhaustible.”

The fact that Hamilton’s passion-turned-career has taken him around the globe in search of bigger waves makes him acutely aware of just how small the planet actually is. And while, for him, the most beautiful place on Earth is still the one he calls home (“Lumahai Beach, the beach that I was raised on, because there is not one man-made object on it, or near it,” he says), there is something unique about his other top spots. “I’ve been in the Andes and I’ve been in Alaska, and it seems like the places that are the most beautiful now are also some of the most extreme places. There’s something that’s ultimately protecting them.”



Photography by: PHOTOS © JENNIFER CAWLEY