May 2007  
An Open Letter to Laird Hamilton
by Cameron Walker

Laird, I just want to say for the record that I do not consider you my type. A married-to-a-gorgeous-volleyball-player, epic-wave-riding guy who throws out photo-shoot smiles with an equally gorgeous, equally bare-chested baby? No thanks. I was the only girl in my elementary school who played Dungeons & Dragons, if that gives you any idea.

This was before my new stand-up board. Now, I’m not sure exactly what was happening in your life that Saturday in April. You were probably shredding the face of some previously untamed monster near Tahiti, or having Eddie Vedder over for dinner and a little jam session.

Here’s what I was doing, just in case you want to know: I was wrestling my 10’10” stand-up board to the beach. Wardog, the guy who sold it to my husband, Chris, (the board was Chris’ sort-of-surprise birthday gift to me) demonstrated how to balance the board on one shoulder and hold the paddle with the other hand. Even so, I couldn’t figure out how to get paddle and board to the beach without making two trips, the one with the board tipping back and forth on my head incredibly awkward, the one with the six-foot paddle only slightly less so.


But once I was on the water—even though I fell off after trying to lunge up from my knees, as one Hawaiian surfer describes the process on his learn-to-standup blog—I was in love. I cruised away from the beach, paddling along. I felt like some kind of far-flung explorer (okay, maybe it was the dorky UV ray-blocking hat with a chinstrap) gazing down through the layers of water at the blades of kelp suspended like single bird feathers under glass.

And—not that this is any more important, of course—my new board sped ahead of the measly 9’6” longboard that Chris was paddling. He looked so uncomfortable lying flat on his stomach like that.

You are the one that started this (well, fine, it was the Pacific islanders hundreds of years ago, but you’re the one who’s bringing it back). You and all your boys who do all the crazy things—the tow-in surfing, the stand-up paddling across the English Channel—and suddenly everyone else wants to jump off that same bridge, too. Why didn’t I realize where this was leading?

Chris was sitting in the lineup while I paddled out in the other direction, practicing my turns, startling myself and nearby pelicans as I suddenly, then repeatedly, ended up in the water.

Another standup surfer—not as good as you, Laird, but far better than I’ll ever be—paddled up to Chris, and they started talking during a lull. He said they were great boards—the Sean Ordoñez is the one that I have, Laird. (I know you’ve got your own line, too--I’m sorry, I’m not the one who picked it out). But, the other stand-up surfer said, there was just one problem my beautiful blue-railed board.

“What’s that?” Chris asked.

“It looks like you’ll have to have two.”

Laird, I’m not sure about this anymore. Now, you’re the golden boy who’s going to have me spending my half of the rent money to get Chris his own board. Who’s now got me paddling out in rainstorms, ignoring sprained wrists, and, when I’m not on the water, standing on the bluffs watching the incoming sets as moodily as a teenager while the work piles up on my desk. This seems exactly like the beginning of a long, unrequited crush. Sorry about that.

 

 


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