When Laird’s publicist called us up and asked if we’d like to talk to Laird about his new StandUp Paddle line (he just left Australia after a week of promotion) we couldn’t help ourselves. So many questions! So many questions revolving around the word WHY. Why!??!?
But it turns out there’s rhyme to his reason, and Laird’s got bigger and better plans then we foresaw. This is how we got there.
Do you think it’s more popular here in Australia, then somewhere like the USA?
I actually think you guys are moving a bit slower into it down here, given the nature of how much surfing is part of your culture. The thing is, this contribution to the surfing world is one that’s reflected through the masses. That’s why, when I look back on this, I hold it up as one of my trophies. In a few years I can say, “I believed in this and now they’ve got guys in Dubai paddling around on them.” And that’s what is going to make Stand Up Paddling an Olympic sport.
Whoah, whoah , whoah. An Olympic sport?
Yes. You get 20 studly guys to line up on this course on their carbon fibre rockets? That’s going to be good. It’ll be in the Olympics because of the amount of appeal to everyone. And with the racing aspect? It’s a no brainer. There’s already interest and people who are looking at it. It won’t take much more than a nudge, once we get a few more countries doing it.
I mean, the surfing industry is such a sport of limited participation – aerials in shorebreaks with hot, young acrobatics doesn’t appeal to enough people to justify the size of industry. And this will – you won’t even need a wave to enjoy surfing. That’s why it’ll be so good in the Olympics compared to surfing – judging in competitive surfing is an opinion, and a race in stand up paddling is a clock. Clocks don’t lie.
Will you compete, if it becomes an Olympic sport?
I think I have nothing to gain and everything to lose if I compete, but I wouldn’t say right off the bat that I wouldn’t. I just prefer personal challenges in the format of feats, whether it’s paddling into a hurricane or crossing the Hawaiian Islands. Win or lose, it’s an accomplished success.
I heard your current goal is to ride a 100ft wave…
The thing I’m most focused on right now is the discipline of foiling. To ride a 100ft wave you’ll need to be on a foil, and that’s in the front of my mind constantly. It’s also extremely dangerous, and maybe that’s part of why I like it.
But you know, I don’t go around bragging about it, but we may have already ridden 100ft waves. We’re not worried about setting a Guiness World Record or anything. But we have been in surf that’s the 100ft range, and I mean, I almost lost a friend. I tell people that if you want to read the book called The Wave, you can hear the story about the day we nearly rode a 100ft wave.