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Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin

Laird Hamilton

Wed Apr 10 2024
Water TrainingSurfing EvolutionWindsurfingTow-In SurfingHydrofoilsFoiling in SurfingChallenges in Endurance ActivitiesForecasting Surfing ConditionsSurf MoviesApproaching Giant Waves


This episode explores various aspects of water training, including workout drills, pool training, and the benefits of being in water. It delves into the evolution of surfing and water sports, from surfboard design to the influence of other water activities. The discussion also covers windsurfing, tow-in surfing, hydrofoils, and foiling in surfing. Additionally, it touches on endurance activities, challenges faced by athletes, forecasting surfing conditions, capturing beauty through surf movies, and approaching and riding giant waves.


Water Training Insights

Water training involves a combination of swimming, weightlifting, and jumping to maximize oxygen consumption and muscle engagement. It triggers primal responses like fear and coldness, leading to beneficial stress on the body. Using lighter weights allows for rhythmic movements and controlled breathing similar to yoga.

Surfing Evolution Insights

Surfing has evolved from a small rebellious community to a popular sport. Surfboard design has undergone significant changes, and innovations like fins have revolutionized maneuverability. The transition from long boards to short boards was driven by demographic shifts and the need to ride different waves.

Hydrofoils and Foiling Insights

Hydrofoils and foiling in surfing have opened up new possibilities and locations for wave riding. They require different equipment and skills compared to traditional surfing. Foiling allows for more freedom and less restriction, leading to longer riding times and unique experiences.

Challenges and Rewards in Surfing Insights

Surfing requires the ability to read waves and make informed decisions. Dedication and genuine intentions are believed to be rewarded by the universe. Camaraderie and sharing experiences with friends enhance the enjoyment of surfing.

Approaching Giant Waves Insights

Approaching giant waves requires caution, respect, and understanding of the environment. Riding giant waves involves strategic decision-making, feeling every surface bump, and controlling speed. Different surf spots have varying wave textures based on swell angles and storm directions.


  1. Water Training and Workouts
  2. Evolution of Surfing and Water Sports
  3. Windsurfing and Tow-In Surfing
  4. Hydrofoils and Foiling in Surfing
  5. Challenges and Rewards in Surfing
  6. Endurance Activities and Challenges
  7. Forecasting Surfing Conditions and Nature's Behavior
  8. Surf Movies and Capturing Beauty
  9. Approaching and Riding Giant Waves

Water Training and Workouts

00:02 - 26:37

  • The podcast transcript discusses a workout drill called 'Fifty' involving jumps, swimming, and holding weights
  • The drill consists of various combinations of 15 jumps and swimming back and forth with an ammo box
  • Different variations of the drill involve changing the sequence of jumps and swims to create more challenging sets
  • Adding weight to the workout doesn't necessarily make it easier as lighter weights can extend the time spent underwater
  • Participants often lose track of counting repetitions during the intense workout, leading to extra efforts to ensure completion
  • Pool training has historical roots in rock running and diving practices for extended underwater stays
  • Underwater weights provide stability and reduce the perceived load by about 30%
  • Being underwater can help with recovery from injuries as the body feels more comfortable and stabilized
  • Initial resistance to holding weights underwater is common but can be overcome with practice
  • Overcoming primal fears and instincts is key in water training to gain control and submission
  • Water training helps trigger primal responses like fear and coldness, leading to beneficial stress on the body
  • Using lighter weights in water training allows for rhythmic movements and controlled breathing, similar to yoga
  • The relationship between breath and movement is emphasized in water training due to the need to breathe only at the surface
  • The workout involves a combination of swimming, weightlifting, and jumping to maximize oxygen consumption and muscle engagement
  • Jumping in water provides resistance that allows for high-volume training without the impact on the body compared to jumping on hard ground
  • Controlled breathing patterns and precise movements in water create a unique environment for physical and mental challenges
  • Being in water is described as a peaceful and nurturing experience similar to being in outer space due to the lack of gravity and air
  • Task distractions during workouts help individuals focus on completing exercises rather than dwelling on the difficulty

Evolution of Surfing and Water Sports

26:10 - 57:45

  • The speaker's early exposure to the ocean and surfing culture shaped their deep respect for the sea
  • Surfing in the past was a small, tight-knit community with a rebellious spirit against societal norms
  • Surfboard design evolved from longboards made of wood to shortboards with foam and fiberglass, leading to significant changes in riding styles
  • The introduction of fins on surfboards revolutionized maneuverability and control in riding waves
  • The transition from long boards to short boards in surfing was driven by a shift in surfer demographics and the need to ride different kinds of waves
  • Short board design was influenced by necessity and experimentation, with some innovations possibly arising from accidents or resource constraints
  • Skiing influenced snowboarding through technology and innovation
  • Skateboarding gave back to surfing through aerial and acrobatic elements
  • Wakeboarding evolved from water skiing, inspired by surfers' creativity
  • Big wave riding is characterized by intensity and speed, drawing inspiration from older generations of surfers
  • Introduction to various types of surfing equipment led to understanding different possibilities and innovations in surfing
  • Innovation in surfboard design, like the thruster with three fins, revolutionized surfing techniques and allowed for more aggressive maneuvers
  • Adopting the best tools and equipment regardless of brand loyalty or personal connections was crucial for improving performance in surfing
  • The evolution of windsurfing from a sailing board to being combined with surfboards in the 80s opened up new possibilities for wave riding

Windsurfing and Tow-In Surfing

57:38 - 1:09:45

  • Maui is a key location for windsurfing due to its wind and waves
  • Windsurfing involves various disciplines like slalom sailing, freestyle, and wave riding
  • Learning windsurfing requires perseverance and overcoming challenges
  • The mindset that if someone can do it, others can too applies to learning new skills
  • Passion and determination can help overcome barriers and achieve goals
  • Windsurfing experience helped in speed acclamation and reaction time for big wave surfing
  • Windsurfing taught skills like using foot straps which were beneficial in big wave surfing
  • Lessons learned from windsurfing equipment influenced the design and performance of big wave boards
  • The idea of towing while windsurfing led to the concept of tow-in surfing on big waves
  • The transition from windsurfing to tow-in surfing took a couple of winters, leading to a significant breakthrough in big wave riding

Hydrofoils and Foiling in Surfing

1:15:27 - 2:10:08

  • The speaker's interest in hydrofoils was sparked by childhood experiences on a hydrofoil boat called Sea Flight in Hawaii
  • The speaker and his friend experimented with modifying an 'air chair' into a hydrofoil board using snowboard boots for leverage
  • Their experimentation with hydrofoils dates back to the early 90s, indicating over 20 years of involvement in this technology
  • The use of foils for surfing dates back to the early 90s, allowing surfers to tap into the energy of waves in a new way
  • A core group of enthusiasts experimented with foils, leading to innovations like custom-built boards and improved wing designs
  • Riding a wave with a foil requires different equipment and skills compared to being towed on flat water
  • Experimentation with different shapes and sizes of foils led to breakthroughs in performance, such as finding the optimal height for the strut
  • The unique approach of using snowboard boots while foiling set these surfers apart from others in the sport
  • Using arms instead of legs while swimming with boots on can expand breath hold time due to less oxygen usage
  • Early involvement in kiting and wind surfing led to early adoption of kite foiling
  • Foiling started gaining traction in the kiting community, leading to the birth of foil companies and influencing small wave foiling
  • Foils initially used for managing giant waves eventually expanded into riding wind swells and tiny waves that don't break
  • Transition from kiting to winging (kiting without strings) provides a new experience but may feel restrictive compared to traditional surfing
  • Foiling allows for more freedom and less restriction compared to traditional surfing
  • Advancements in foils have led to the removal of foot straps for stability and efficiency
  • The evolution of foils has expanded the spectrum of disciplines and environments in surfing
  • Foiling has opened up new locations and opportunities for surfing, providing longer riding times and unique experiences

Challenges and Rewards in Surfing

2:15:36 - 2:21:32

  • Surfers are described as wave readers who can anticipate a wave's movement and behavior, which is more impressive than just standing up and riding the wave
  • The ability to read waves and understand their movement is crucial in surfing, allowing surfers to predict where the wave is going and make informed decisions
  • Surfing involves a lot of judgment and reading of waves, which adds to the excitement and inspiration of the sport
  • Dedication and genuine intentions in surfing are believed to be rewarded by the universe with blessings and opportunities
  • Camaraderie and sharing experiences with friends enhance the enjoyment of activities like surfing, creating memorable moments

Endurance Activities and Challenges

2:21:12 - 2:36:36

  • Don was a bare knuckle fighter and had an enthusiastic, open, and interested personality
  • Don had a deep love for life and enjoyed living to the fullest
  • Don had a passion for endurance activities like Iron Man races and the Race Across America
  • Don convinced his friend to participate in the Race Across America, a bike race against professional racers, with a unique twist of paddling to the start as part of their challenge
  • Participants completed a grueling race called Race Across America, biking from Oceanside, California to Delaware non-stop for several days
  • The team faced challenges during the race, including navigating through mountains and dealing with sabotage from their hired manager
  • Despite leading the race and being on track to break the record, one team member got hit by a car in Herman, Missouri, causing them to forfeit the race
  • The race officials called the incident a mutual collision between a bicycle and a minivan, but suspicions of cheating arose as the winning team caught up unexpectedly
  • In a competition, cheating can occur, leading to unfair outcomes
  • Engaging in competitive activities brings out negative traits in individuals
  • Collaboration and teamwork are highlighted as key to success in challenging situations
  • The individual discussed has faced various physical challenges and injuries but demonstrates remarkable resilience and determination
  • The individual's friend experienced unexpected behavioral changes due to high testosterone levels
  • Discussion about preparing for mountain climbing and the importance of training before attempting big challenges like Everest
  • Anecdote about a challenging climb on Rainier, including a gassy night in a tent and a dangerous incident with a headlamp falling into a crack
  • Emphasis on the difficulty of down climbing and the significance of making it safely back down as the true achievement in mountaineering

Forecasting Surfing Conditions and Nature's Behavior

1:39:15 - 1:46:03

  • Storm production angles can change, affecting wave patterns even though the bottom topography remains constant
  • Swell angles and storm generation locations constantly evolve due to weather pattern shifts
  • Uncharacteristic swell patterns and surf volumes have been observed in recent years compared to past decades
  • Forecasting big surf events like El Nino can be unpredictable and challenging for experts
  • The allure of surfing lies in the mystery and fascination of nature's behavior and unpredictability
  • Challenges such as distractions from filming, organizing logistics, and documenting experiences can impact the enjoyment of surfing

Surf Movies and Capturing Beauty

1:15:27 - 1:22:31

  • Surf movies were a significant part of the surfing industry in the past, with films like 'Endless Summer' and 'Pacific Vibrations' making an impact
  • The allure of surf movies lies in capturing the majesty and beauty of the ocean, providing a meditative and mesmerizing experience for viewers
  • Experiencing beauty, whether in nature or man-made creations, has a profound effect on individuals by allowing them to transcend their own concerns and become observers
  • Natural landscapes like deserts and mountains are considered beautiful because they are seen as physical representations of a higher power or grand knowledge
  • Being in awe-inspiring environments helps individuals detach from their own importance and focus on something greater than themselves, leading to a sense of presence and immediacy

Approaching and Riding Giant Waves

1:22:06 - 1:34:02

  • The speaker discusses the importance of observing waves before taking action, emphasizing the need to understand the environment and potential consequences
  • They recount their experience at Jaws on Maui, describing how they approached the wave cautiously and with respect for its power
  • The speaker recalls hearing about the wave from a friend and being intrigued by its reputation as a severe and challenging spot for surfing
  • They mention that despite the wave's impressive size and perfection, it was initially deemed not automatically rideable due to its extreme nature
  • The speakers discuss a giant, perfect wave that is unlike any other they have seen before
  • The wave is described as being on a cliff with no easy access or inviting conditions for surfing
  • They talk about their initial experiences observing the spot and gradually building up to attempting to surf it using tow-in methods
  • The use of Zodiac boats for towing before acquiring specialized equipment is mentioned
  • There is a sense of fear and uncertainty when approaching the big wave, with concerns about equipment and safety
  • The uncertainty and challenges of using equipment in extreme conditions like giant waves are discussed
  • The crew members on the North Shore of Oahu included Buzzy, Derek, and the speaker, but additional members like Mike Waltz, Brett Lickl, and Dave Kalama were later added
  • Riding giant waves involves feeling every surface bump, difficulty in turning at high speeds, and strategic decision-making on where to turn on the wave face
  • Different surf spots have varying wave textures and movements based on swell angles and storm directions
  • The speaker highlights the importance of controlling speed while riding waves to avoid getting airborne or losing control