Laird Hamilton has surfed monster waves. The biggest and most dangerous there are. Raging waters that can only be reached by helicopter, in inflatable boats or on a water scooter. To reach these milestones when there still weren’t any rules, Hamilton started out by surfing on a board with a paddle to help him improve his performance. He had created the modern version of stand up paddling (SUP).
This sport became a core part of his training and enabled him to surf waves of up to 30 meters high, such as those in Jaws, on this island of Maui (Hawaii), which turned him into a legend of the world of surfing. “Nothing makes you stronger for surfing the biggest waves than stand up paddling. It gives your legs, feet and toes stability and strength”. These were his words in an interview for the specialized magazine Standup Journal, where he also described how people asked themselves what sport it was when first they saw him in Ho’okipa (Hawaii).
SUP: Stand up paddling, a sport without limits
Since then, Hamilton has demonstrated that there are no limits to doing SUP and has crossed the high tides of Turnagain Arm in Alaska, the Grand Canyon, the English Channel and he has gone around all of the islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. SUP, which was almost discovered by accident, is now more popular than ever and the types of board depend on the activity to be done on them: yoga, long-distance paddling, down-river runs, riding the waves, etc., on both the open sea and inland waterways.
To break into the world of SUP, we recommend starting in calm waters such as in a pool, as it is a confined space that provides the safety required during the first days of training because the wind and adverse weather conditions can make the water almost impossible to navigate. When you start to build up confidence in the flat water, we would encourage you to try it out in surf wave pools!
Other top tips, according to Laird Hamilton, are to find a good instructor, to be familiar with the places where you paddle, to keep safe and to have as much fun as possible: “Go out with a smile and respect the ocean or whatever water you find yourself doing SUP in”.
Ready to give it a try?