Laird Hamilton is one of the pioneers of big wave surfing, and the inventor of a technique called tow-in surfing, which can be used to catch waves that are too big (ie fast) to catch by paddling. "Ordinary" big waves can be caught with specialized surf boards called guns, which are long and narrow, but the biggest waves need more sophisticated equipment.

One of the earlier tricks that people tried was to catch the monsters with surfboards that had wind surfing sails attached, but that was cumbersome. Nowadays the way to do it is to tow the surfer with a jet-ski for example, similar to water skiing, until he catches the wave. The "best" waves can be significantly higher than 10 metres, and for this reason, tow-in surfing his rather dangerous and often requires a minimum of ten years of practice before it can be done with a reasonable chance of survival. If a surfer falls into the waves at a bad spot, he may drown if he doesn't make it out after two or three waves. Concurrently with tow-in surfing, the art of high-surf rescue has also developed, where drowning surfers are retrieved from the sea by brave men with jet skis.

Prime spots for tow-in surfing are Hawaii's North Shore and Teahupoo in Tahiti, for example. It can also be practiced in Maverick's in California, although there has been some speculation that it might be made illegal. There are some good films about this stuff, like "Riding giants" or Laird Hamilton's videos for example.

* Disclaimer: The author of this node has one week of surfing experience, so this entire node can be taken with a big grain of salt. At least do not try this at home!*