While Kelly turns supercoach.
Whose the keenest surfer on the planet right now? Well, five times Formula One Champion Lewis Hamilton has a pretty good claim. In a new Surf Ranch edit by the WSL’s Brazilian Social Media guru Felipe Marcondes it is Hamilton’s sheer enthusiasm for surfing that stands out. And unlike many of the other “famous people that can’t surf surf the Ranch” clips, it turns out Hamilton ain’t that bad.
“The amount of surfing I’ve been watching this year is crazy,” Hamilton tells Kai Lenny. “Every single day I’m online watching surfing, anything I can get.” Later after a few waves, he says, “Surfing is the best feeling ever, I’m so happy here. I can’t tell you how much I love surfing. When you get up, there’s just no other feeling like it.”
And remember this a man that drives a four-stroke turbocharged V6 Mercedes that regularly travels at speeds in excess of 330 km/h, for which earns 70 million bucks a year and has dated Nicole Scherzinger, Nikki Minaj, Sofie Richie, Rita Ora, Rhianna, Vivian Burkhardt (Miss Grenada), Lotta Hinsta (Miss Finland) and Daniel Lloyd (Miss England).
And despite only taking up surfing recently he does well to negotiate the tricky train powered waves, initially on a longboard, but later on a smaller Kelly Slater Designs thruster. He even managed to get tubed, and his style, particularly pigdogging the lefts, isn’t half bad. “I’ve been dreaming of getting a barrel,” he says afterwards, before Slater points out that it’s much, much, easier getting barreled in his tub, rather than in the ocean.
However it is when Slater starts to provide some beginner surfing advice for Hamilton, that surfers can gain a fresh insight into surfing. The champ talks through his own technique in what is a fascinating breakdown. Initially he starts on the basic act of paddling.
“If you were to go from dead stop to paddling as fast as you can, you’d be there in about three to four strokes,” he tells Hamilton. “After six, seven or eight strokes, you are not going any faster, you are just burning energy. So whenever you are trying to catch a wave. You really only need to paddle three or four strokes.”
It was at this stage that I forward the link to my mate Steggsy, who no matter what the size of the wave, or his positioning, does at least a dozen strokes, each accompanied by a wild eggbeating kick. I always knew it was fucking irritating, but it’s also comforting to know it’s damn inefficient as well.
Slater then moves on to more subtle technique aspects of surfing. “The other mistake people make is using their arms and upper body,” he says, “but you can surf with your arms folded across your chest and not move anything above your hips.” Which maybe true, but would, if you aren’t Kelly Slater, looks a little weird.
“So you move the board by rotating your lower body from,” he continues. “So much of it is adjusting your weight forward and back. Then it’s just toe, heel, toe, heel, and a little bit of up and down movement coming from the knees. Your arms are used just to regain balance, but mainly come into play a bit with style. Your surfing should come your feet, ankles, knees and hips.”
In terms of breaking down surfing into its basic components it was a masterclass from the champ. Hamilton was clearly all ears and since then has used his off season to be tearing into California’s recent run of swell.