Ride the Wild Surf is a Documentary programme.
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Ride the Wild Surf
In the world of big-wave surfing, Laird Hamilton is known as its guiding genius. Conquering waves of 60ft and 70ft, adrenaline junkie Hamilton continues to amaze, by putting himself in the most terrifying situations imaginable and emerging unscathed.
In tonight's To the Ends of the Earth documentary, Hamilton and his 'assault crew' of daredevil surfers, together seek the most extreme surf on the planet. The group has travelled together around the world catching legendary big-wave breaks and now return to Hawaii, their adopted home. Off shore is one of the world's most extreme man-eaters, a wave nicknamed Jaws. Bigger and deadlier than anything anyone has ever surfed before: "If you did it wrong on a big day at Jaws, you could die," says Hamilton.
These monster waves were unsurfable until just a few years ago, but in 1993 Laird and his friends found a way to catch these beasts. Their innovative surf boards have a hydrofoil blade attached to allow it to rise above the actual wave, and footstraps to make the board part of their body. These innovations, combined with using jet skis to tow them out to the wave, giving them the speed they need, allows them to stage their assault on the 'Mount Everest of the surfing world'.
Riding the Wild Surf follows Hamilton and his friends as they prepare for the ultimate wave to roar. They plan to induct new devotee John Denny to big-wave surfing. John has been hooked since Laird took him out on the boat to see Jaws up close. Now he admits that he's 'a little bit apprehensive', but knows that the others would risk their lives to save him should they need to.
Riding the Wild Surf is an insight into the obsession that drives these men to pursue their dreams to the most extreme boundaries of their sport. It has cost them dear in their personal lives. Although Rush Randle has an understanding wife, who accepts that surfing is 'the other woman', Dave Kalama has allowed his marriage to break up, and says that "Surfing is the most important thing in my life. It is the only thing in my life that is consistent."
With stunning camerwork, filmed from a helicopter just feet from the waves, this is the closest many us will ever get to understanding the pull of the ocean and the courage and patience of those who aim to conquer it.
As Denny surfs his first big-wave he explains how he feels: "You go out there and you are risking your life, but you feel so alive - it's just such a great feeling out there." But as Hamilton waits for the ultimate wave to rise, he is more philosophical. "I don't necessarily know if I want to experience surf so big and so perfect that I might never see it again in my lifetime, that might be an anti-climactic moment. I don't know if I'm prepared to experience that." So he waits for Jaws to roar.
Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)
Database last updated: 20 February - 18:16