Blog: Laird Hamilton and a Male Leopard

Burt Ross

You might be wondering what Laird Hamilton, the king of giant wave surfing, and a male leopard have in common. If you are curious enough, you will continue reading.

Late last month (I think January 31 qualifies as late in the month), I attended a viewing of the stunning documentary “Take Every Wave” produced and directed by the creative Rory Kennedy and written by her talented husband, Mark Bailey, both Malibu residents. I was one of almost 200 Malibuites who enjoyed the film and the question and answer period, presented as part of the Malibu Library Speaker Series.

For those of you who are not into surfing and might not have heard of Laird Hamilton’s legendary feats (definitely include me in that group), Laird, who also happens to live here in Malibu, but spent much of his youth in Hawaii, is cut out of a different cloth from the rest of us. It seems as if Laird has spent more time in the water catching waves than living on land, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has actually grown gills.

The documentary shows a young Laird drawn to the ocean from the time he was barely able to walk. Even though he grew into a well-tanned, blond haired, over-the-top good-looking surfer, Laird was anything but a stereotype. Rebellious and adventurous, Laird had a compulsion to ride waves that sane human beings such as myself (some people might question my sanity) would avoid at all costs.

It was not enough for Laird to ride waves bigger than everybody else, he needed to pioneer new techniques in surfing to create even bigger thrills. This water genius is the primary influence behind tow-in surfing and hydrofoil boarding. Whereas most surfers were willing to ride waves near shore, Laird had a jet ski tow him way out so he could catch even bigger monsters.

“Take Every Wave” beautifully shows Laird’s creating and perfecting new techniques, and one scene shows Laird’s hydro-foiling (a few feet above the water) the King Kong of waves.  He rides it for longer than it took me to fly from LAX to Cabo, Mexico. (This is only a slight exaggeration.)

I really believe that were a tsunami to head our way, while all of us Malibuites would be heading inland, one man, Laird Hamilton, would be heading out to sea to ride it.

After watching the documentary, I had planned to go home and take a long, hot, relaxing bath, but was now so afraid of water, that I went straight to bed. The movie left me with a great sense of inadequacy.

This brings me to the subject of the male leopard. I bet some of you already forgot about him. I was watching one of those nature shows on television. There is nothing like seeing a big crocodile drowning a young zebra to make you appreciate the safety of Malibu.

I now need to be most delicate because The Malibu Times is a family newspaper. So here goes—the male leopard was “showering his affection” on what appeared to be a most uninterested female leopard. The narrator then announced something that will unfortunately remain in my head, “Male leopards have been known to do this every five minutes.” Oh my God!

I had taped the show, so I was able to replay it in the hope that I had misheard what was said. Maybe the announcer had said every five weeks or five days, or even every five hours, but surely he did not say every five minutes. Unfortunately, that is exactly what he said. That certainly is a lot of affection.

If it weren’t humiliating enough to watch Laird Hamilton riding humongous waves while I was reluctant to take a hot bath, I was now further demeaned by learning that a male leopard enjoys himself every five minutes. A man can take only so much!