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The Inertia

If you are an average surfer, getting an opportunity to go tow surfing with Laird Hamilton might be a frightening prospect. Frightening, but not something you could pass up. Especially frightening in the early-2000s, when Laird Hamilton was on top of the tow-surfing world. It was the time of the Strapped Crew, when Laird and Dave Kalama and their ilk were getting yanked into monstrous waves with ski boots on. It was the time when they were figuring out the foil. A frightening time for an average surfer. And Tony Hawk, although an amazing skateboarder, is an average surfer.

Since his brother, Steve Hawk, is an ex-editor of SURFER magazine, the Birdman stumbled upon the chance to go tow surfing with Laird. “We went to Maui, and [Steve] said ‘Hey, Laird said he’d take us out tow-in surfing if you want to go.’ I was like, ‘we’re going to go tow-in surfing with Laird Hamilton?’ I don’t think his level of mellow is the same thing that we would consider.’ But we had to go. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Off they went to a place called Spreckles, which is near Jaws. Dave Kalama was there at the time, and according to Tony, he was trying out one of the first foil boards. Rush Randall, who was one of the first to ride Jaws along with the likes of Laird, Darrick Doerner, and Buzzy Kerbox, was towing Tony. Laird was towing Steve.

“I’ll never forget looking out, and Rush is like, ‘Here comes one… get ready,'” Tony said.

Rush proceeded to tow Tony into the biggest wave he’d ever ridden. So how did Tony feel about it? “It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. But we’ll let Tony tell the rest of the story, because it’s a good one.

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