A Waterman’s Philosophy: Beyond the Waves with Laird Hamilton

Read our Q&A with the celebrated innovator and guiding genius of crossover board sports including tow-in surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and hydrofoil boarding.

Laird, could you tell us what it means to be a waterman? It seems to be more than just riding waves?

A waterman, in my opinion, embodies more than just expertise; it signifies a profound connection with the ocean, a distinctive lifestyle, and a set of values that extend beyond the act of riding waves. When I think of a waterman, I envision someone like Duke Kahanamoku, a legendary Hawaiian who not only introduced surfing to the world but also demonstrated the essence of being a waterman through acts of heroism.

Surfing, at its core, is an engagement with the energy of the waves, a practice that carries a certain philosophical weight. A waterman lives by a specific moral code and adopts a lifestyle that reflects a deep respect for the ocean and a commitment to the well-being of others. It’s about putting yourself second to the situation, about being willing to risk personal safety to save others, just as Duke Kahanamoku did.

While the ocean serves as the main stage for a waterman’s actions, whether it’s surfing, diving, fishing, or sailing, the true essence lies in the values that guide their choices. It’s about understanding the ocean, reading its currents, anticipating its movements, and possessing the skills necessary to navigate its complexities. Being a waterman is more than mastering these skills; it’s about embodying a set of values that extend to one’s conduct both on land and in the water.

The philosophy of a waterman encompasses generosity, unselfishness, and a willingness to put yourself on the line for the greater good. It involves a keen awareness of your surroundings, from the movements of the sun to the direction of the wind. This heightened awareness isn’t just about survival in the ocean; it’s a reflection of a deeper connection with the world and a commitment to being a responsible steward of the environment.

The interaction with fellow humans becomes a defining aspect of being a waterman. It’s about conducting yourself with respect, empathy, and a sense of responsibility. The ocean becomes a classroom for learning not just about the waves but about life, relationships, and the interconnectedness of all things. The true waterman is not just a skilled surfer or diver; they are individuals who navigate life with this distinct philosophy.


It seems like your connection with the ocean is more than just a physical one?

The ocean is not just a playground for me; it’s a classroom, a source of creativity, and a training zone. It provides endless opportunities for improvement and discovery. The potential for something greater is always there, aligning with the human desire for continuous pursuit and growth.


Can you shed light on the level of effort and preparation required to stay at the top of your game consistently?

Being a waterman is not a 9-to-5 job; it’s a constant commitment. The effort extends to physical and mental preparedness, as well as meticulous attention to every aspect of life, from relationships to equipment. It’s a lifestyle that demands constant dedication and discipline. Eliminating doubt through thorough preparation is essential when you’re often putting your life on the line.

That level of commitment is truly inspiring. Have there been moments in your career where you contemplated giving up?

There have been countless opportunities to quit or take an easier route, especially in the face of injuries and discouragement. However, the consistency of pushing through these challenges has led to breakthroughs and incredible experiences. The pursuit of longevity in my career requires overcoming those moments of doubt and continuing to push forward.


Beyond the awe-inspiring moments captured on big waves, what aspects of your life and dedication often go unnoticed by the public?

People see the outcome, the big waves, and the achievements, but they may not realise the sacrifices and choices made behind the scenes. It involves making decisions that might not be the easiest, opting for the harder route, and sacrificing immediate pleasures for long-term rewards. The public sees the tip of the iceberg, but the bulk of the effort lies beneath the surface.


Can you share a bit more about the mindset required to sustain your lifestyle?

The mindset is about embracing challenges and never fearing failure. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Surrounding yourself with a supportive team is crucial, and prioritising safety is paramount. It’s also about finding gear and equipment that you can trust.


What drew you to Bremont watches, and how do they align with your lifestyle?

Bremont watches are functional art, beautifully crafted yet built to endure. Durability is crucial to me, and these watches have not disappointed. They are a natural fit with my philosophy of pushing limits and taking things further. They’re not just accessories; they’re tools that can withstand the challenges of my lifestyle.


Can you elaborate on the importance of durability in your life, not just in watches but in your overall approach?

My life is about durability. How durable you are physically, mentally, and emotionally. The ocean is an unforgiving environment, and being durable means being prepared for anything. Whether it’s enduring the physical challenges of big wave surfing or the mental demands of constant preparation, durability is the key to sustained success.


‘Take It Further’ is a phrase that can truly be associated with your pursuits. What does this mantra mean to you personally?

‘Take It Further’ ties in with my life’s philosophy. It’s about pushing to the next limit, seeking the next edge, and exploring the next possibility. It’s a commitment to constant innovation, adaptation, and never settling for the status quo. That pursuit of going beyond is what keeps me engaged, excited, and truly fulfilled in what I do. There’s potential to always push further. A bigger wave. A faster wave. A more perfect wave. There’s just always potential for something greater and I think this feeling is natural in us as humans, to always want to go further.


How does the mantra influence your personal life, especially in terms of longevity and family?

It’s a way of life. In my personal life, it translates into a commitment to health, well-being, and being present for my family. Longevity is not just about the number of years; it’s about the quality of those years. Staying active, embracing challenges, and constantly pushing boundaries contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful life.


How do you see the connection with Bremont and your continued innovations influencing the world of water sports and adventure?

Bremont and I share a commitment to pushing boundaries, and that extends beyond our individual pursuits. Our collaboration serves as a testament to the possibilities when precision engineering meets a relentless pursuit of excellence. By showcasing these timepieces in the extreme conditions I often find myself in, we hope to inspire a new generation of adventurers and water enthusiasts to explore their limits and keep pushing themselves.


Do you have any advice for individuals aspiring to follow in your footsteps, whether in the world of water sports or adventure in general?

My advice is to embrace challenges and never fear failure. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Surround yourself with supportive people, and, of course, find gear and equipment that you can trust.


The limited edition features a matte black dial decorated with a shark fin motif amongst waves and framed by a new Harbour Blue dial flange which reprises its Harbour Blue integrated rubber strap. The Super-LumiNova® filled applied indexes and hands are complemented by accents of vibrant orange, from the outline of the GMT hand, across key markers on the inner bezel through to the ‘Waterman’ wordmark on the dial.

Available on Black Integrated Rubber, Harbour Blue Integrated Rubber or Stainless Steel Bracelet.

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