Laird Hamilton appeared on TMZ on Saturday and was angry about Teahupo'o being over-run during this past swell. He said the surfers "…are so much more concerned with catching the next wave than with other surfers." And "The chaos of the Jet Skis’ movement has a circus-like aspect. Some behaviors were borderline clownish.” And “They’re all wearing a bunch of cameras, taking off on waves they have NO chance of making. They drop in just so they can have a photo of themselves … ‘Wow, look at me!'"
Is Laird right? Chas Smith and Brendan Buckley discuss.
Chas Smith, Pro:
I miss Laird. He used to be on magazine covers and in our dreams. His physique, cut from stone, made us stop and ooooooooh. His big waves made us shout, "Oh my!" He is mostly gone now, but not forgotten, and when he shows up on TMZ bemoaning the "circus-like" atmosphere of Teahupo'o I stand with him and say, "You go, boy!" I mean, how do the surfers decide who gets to go on a wave? There are so damn many of them. And why are they taking photos of themselves? That is someone else's job. Someone like Tim McKenna who took the famous "Oh my!" picture of Laird surfing Teahupo'o all strapped in and about to get sucked up over the face but not and booooooooom killing it.
Laird should always go, boy. His physique, still cut from stone, makes sense on a boxy, thick, beefy, muscular wave like Teahupo'o. He fits like computer-generated Gerard Butler fit in 300. He fits better than Wade Goodall because Wade has the skinniest legs. "Make way for Laird!" is what I say. "Clear the line-up for Laird!" He is right.
Brendan Buckley, Con:
Humans, by nature, are geniuses of imitation. Like our hairy parents of evolution, we see and we do. That's how we learn and that's how we build upon what has already been laid out for us. This has propelled us to be all-stars of anthropology and it has propelled Laird Hamilton's mouth into a grumpy gibberish machine.
A couple decades ago, Laird and Buzzy Kerbox bought a zodiac and built on the premise of wakeboarding by whipping each other into some bombs around Hawaii. (Plus, wasn't Herbie Fletcher towing in like 10 years before?) Their feats gained the world's attention and Laird loved every minute of it. Soon enough, their idea was imitated by some of their most respected peers. More attention, and a couple of bad big-wave surfing films later, there were more who sought a piece of the pie. Then more, more and more until finally some bold men pushed the limits of paddling and their panache inspired a paddle, paddle revolution. Still, some waves simply disallow entry via arm strength. Last week at Teahupo'o was such a case.
Laird's comments on TMZ are not just hypocritical, they are flat out foolish. He started all of this! Laird literally built the foundation for this to happen. I've never read the bible, but I haven't yet heard of a verse in which Jesus clowns on his disciples. I'm pretty sure that the ghost of Benny Franklin isn't choke-slamming the ghost of Stevie Jobs for taking the idea of electricity and running with it. And I still have faith in Laird, but I'd like to see him be a better father. If this is such a mess, it's Laird's mess. Instead of bitching, why don't you clean up after yourself? The paper towels are right there, next to your "Oh My God…" cover from '04.
For a more relevant outlook from a more relevant surfer, see Peter Mel's explanation of the Jet Ski party at Teahupo'o here