Laird Hamilton: Why I Surf With MusicS

Laird Hamilton is as tech savvy as surfers get, using jet skis, kites and hydrofoils to have more fun on the waves. Here are his first experiences with waterproof music, and his discovery of H2O Audio earphones and iPod cases:

The thing about the water is that a lot of times you have other people out so having music to listen to is a way to block out people's questions. Kidding aside, it's one way to be in your own little world.

I use music in my regimen when it involves anything with long distances—if I'm doing a really long crossing, or something that's going to take me a while, music is a good distraction. It's a way to kinda let time go by.

Then I found that surfing with the right song creates a whole other situation that you don't have when you're not listening to the music. It's almost like you use a different part of your brain than you normally would without music. Sometimes I feel like things slow down, and I have more time to do maneuvers and to observe what's happening. (I'm not sure if there's any scientific research on that.)

Obviously, when waves are at 80 feet and our lives are on the line, we're not listening to music. We need to hear what's going on and, being put in a demanding situation, we need to be able to communicate. But we do it a lot on our foil boards—those hydrofoil boards that we ride—and again, with the right song, it's a little bit like a movie with a soundtrack. Music just really turns it into a whole different experience.

Before H2O Audio and the iPod, we had music. We were hungry in the early days, so we had the Walkman. They made a little case for a Walkman, with some earphones. We've been using music in surfing and paddling since it first became available in any form.

Laird Hamilton: Why I Surf With MusicS

Laird Hamilton has been a surfing hero since the 1980s, solidifying his reputation as the king of big wave surfing when he conquered Tahiti's Teahupo'o Reef at its most perilous in August 2000. As an innovator, he pioneered many new activities including kitesurfing, tow-in surfing and hydrofoil boarding. He's on the board of directors at H2O Audio, makers of pro-level waterproof iPhone and iPod cases, and has his own signature line of Surge waterproof earphones, proceeds of which are donated to the Beautiful Son foundation for autism education.