Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lanikai and Laird Hamilton

I should put everything in context.  Last night (Friday night) involved $1 beer night at a local bar.  The night ended at an Irish Pub at 3:30 in the morning.  This morning, I went surfing at 8:30am.  There is no better cure for a hangover than getting in the ocean and swimming around/surfing.  My co-worker, his girlfriend, and I signed up for a surf lesson in Waikiki.  After three attempts, I made it up and was actually riding waves all the way in.  Apparently, the first few times I made it up I looked like a flailing moron.  However, after a few more tries, and the instructor's command to "relax" I started to feel more comfortable.  Surfing is really fun.  I can see why it's addicting.  It's also an insane workout.  Just the sheer amount of energy expended paddling all the way out to the waves are a killer on the shoulders.

The coolest part of the morning, though, was that Laird Hamilton was paddle surfing around us.  Now, you're probably thinking the same thing I did when the instructor said, "whoa, brutha, that's Laird Hamilton." I said, "who?"  Turns out, Laird Hamilton INVENTED tow-out surfing.  That is when the waves are so big, they tow the surfers out to the waves and drop them off.  In other words, he's a big-wave surfer.  In fact, using tow-in surfing methods, Hamilton quickly learned how to survive 70-foot (21 m) waves and carving arcs across walls of water, the size of which could literally roll a ship over!  Wikipedia has a huge article about him, but one paragraph says, "It was Hamilton's death-defying drop into Tahiti's Teahupo'o break (commonly known as, CHOPU) on the morning of August 17, 2000 which has become the measure of his surfing career to date, and has firmly established his reputation as the greatest and bravest big wave surfer in the recorded history of surfing."  The picture below is a picture of him riding a wave.

So our instructor started talking to him and he came over and said hi (on his paddle board).  Turns out he was in Waikiki because a friend was getting married. Laird Hamilton, by the way, is married himself.  He is married to professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece.  So anyway, he was really chill and just hanging out and having a good time.  So then a wave comes and I decide to catch it.  I start paddling, pull the knees up, left foot forward, and stand up.  As I'm riding, Laird Hamilton pulls up next to me on the wave and starts talking to me.  He's is literally 3 feet away saying, "awesome bro. Now bend your knees a little.  Stand up straighter, don't arch your back.  Now hold your arms up and ride it in."  So I can now say I surfed with Laird Hamilton in Hawaii.  It was definitely one of my "Hawaii Moments."  I suppose in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the waves we were riding were not at big as the one pictured here. To get a sense of what riding these waves looks like, though, here is a short 3 minute video:

That all happened before 10:30am.  So then we finished our lesson, grabbed lunch, and I was headed back to take a rest.  That's when one of my new friends texted me and asked what I was doing.  To make a long story short, we decided to go to Lanikai Beach.  This small 0.5 mile beach has been constantly ranked among the best beaches in world.  So we drove up about a half an hour away and hung out on the beach for 4-5 hours.  The sand was completely white.  The water was as clear as any water I've ever seen.  There were mountains behind us.  And people were swimming and kayaking in the water.  It is one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen.  I took a bunch of pictures, but I haven't uploaded them yet so here is a picture I got online.

Basically, it was a pretty cool day, especially when you consider the weather in Chicago today was Rainy and 64 degrees. The weather in Hawaii was sunny and 87.

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