Laird Hamilton Loves the Ocean
By Laird Hamilton
When I was growing up in Hawaii, you would have thought I had gills. I was in the water constantly—the warm, salty touch of the Pacific Ocean drew me in for hours at a time. I never stray far from her call, and even if we have been apart for a while, she always welcomes me back with open arms and magnificent waves.
The ocean calms us. Provides us with life and energy. Gives us food. Sadly most people take the ocean for granted, and in some cases harm her and the coastlines, which stretch like arms as far as the eye can see. Our oceans are fragile, and their health is at stake. I could only do so much as one person—pick up my trash, recycle and encourage my friends and family to do the same. But how could I get an entire community to listen and—what’s more—take action?
I first heard about Surfrider Foundation through friends on Maui who were involved on a grassroots level. I saw how they were able to make a difference through the local chapter by raising both money and awareness. In my travels across Europe, particularly in France, I have seen Surfrider Foundation operating locally on a global level. It’s inspiring to me whenever I see people get involved and activate around a mission. It was also a great achievement for me to be a part of the efforts when Surfrider Foundation came to action to save Trestles Beach in San Diego County a few years ago. The team was victorious, and great waves and beaches were saved.
The roots of the organization go back to 1984, when a small group of surfers banded together to fight a beach-alteration project that threatened their local surf break in Malibu. Over the next six years, the foundation continued to operate as a loose-knit group, representing the voice of the surfing community and participating in both environmental and humanitarian efforts. It wasn’t until 1990 that Surfrider Foundation secured its nonprofit status, formed its first official chapters in California and narrowed its focus to protect and preserve our oceans, waves and beaches.
When Surfrider Foundation started battling against offshore oil drilling two years ago, I wanted to help, and I wanted to do more than write letters and make phone calls to elected officials. So when they recently reached out to me and asked if I wanted to shoot a public service announcement, I jumped at the opportunity. A few weeks before shooting, my wife and I visited the Gulf and witnessed an ominous, thick blanket of crude oil floating toward our precious coastlines, devastating a region of our country environmentally, economically and emotionally.
There are many ways to get involved with Surfrider Foundation: Attend a chapter meeting in your area, become a member or volunteer at a cleanup. If you’re in an area that does not have a chapter, make sure you are doing your part—pick up litter, recycle and teach others the small things we do in our daily lives make a giant difference along our coasts. Visit surfrider.org.
Hamilton is an ambassador for Chanel’s first diving watch, the J12 Marine (PICTURED ABOVE). In honor of the relationship, Chanel made a donation to Surfrider Foundation.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM SEVVAIS