Surfing the Giants of the Ocean with Laird Hamilton

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ask most surfers what their ideal wave would look like and they'd probably say 10 to 12 feet tall, with a nice steady break, so that they can ride along the inside of the rolling wave.  That wave would look like a wall of water about twice the height your average sized person. Now, imagine a surfer describing their ideal wave as 30, 40, or even 70 feet tall.  That wave would be a monolithic, fast moving wall of water with the power to destroy anything in its path.

Those are the waves that surfer Laird Hamilton and his friends seek out.  They fly out to the middle of the ocean in search of rogue waves. These isolated monsters have the combined power of several smaller waves.  They've been measured at 100 feet tall, and for many generations their existence was only rumored.  Today they're not only known, but surfable by the world's bravest surfers.  

Author and journalist Susan Casey decided she wanted to immerse herself in that world, so that she might grasp the desire to surf the giants of the ocean, even at the risk of death.

Surfer Laird Hamilton and author Susan Casey

Surfer Laird Hamilton and author Susan Casey.

Comments [4]

David DeCosta from Delray Beach, Fl

I stand humbly corrected..Thanks for a great show

Sep. 17 2010 09:55 AM

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment. We did carefully consider the pronunciation of Teahupoo and we were originally going to pronounce it the way you say (Cho-pu). However, Laird actually told us before the interview that we should pronounce it the way we ended up saying it on the air (Tee-ah-hu-poe).

We decided he was the most authoritative source for this (however this article from One Stop Surf backs it up:
http://www.onestopsurf.com/surf-news/articles/teahupoo-legend-true-meaning-true-story.aspx).

-Jim (Digital Editor)

Sep. 16 2010 12:44 PM
David DeCosta from Delray Beach, Fl

In my previous analogy, the items in the pool were the equivalent of the reef, located at most tropical shallow-water spots such as Teahupoo, Pipeline, Sunset and the like. Surfing the waves that the author and Laird described that are open water waves like Todos Santos and Peahi (jaws) or Cortes Bank includes a completely different set of (no less serious) risks. Don't let anyone be fooled, the guys (and girls) who surf these waves are at the pinnacle of the sport and are in top shape and have been doing this for years (sometimes decades). These are not weekend surfers or trust-fund wannabes. I've been surfing for over 20 years and anything over 15 feet for me is get out of the water scary. Now imagine people surfing, in fact charging waves in the 50, 60, 70 foot plus range (five to seven stories high)..(Insert double gulp here :)

Sep. 14 2010 10:24 AM
David DeCosta from Delray Beach, Fl

I just heard your story with Laird Hamilton, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest watermen of our time. However as a surfer, I cringed when the host pronounced the name of the famous surf break Teahupoo as Tee-ah-hu-poe. Its pronounced Cho-pu. People who don't surf don't really understand the danger of a wave like Teahupoo. Imagine jumping off a two story house into your backyard pool, except the pool is filled with lawn furniture, lawn mowers and few bicycles. Then imagine your house falling on top of you in the pool...That's what wiping out at a wave like Teahupoo is kinda like

Sep. 14 2010 10:05 AM

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