Lewis Hamilton: the F1 driver says his favorite sport is surfing | Photo: LH Archive

Formula 1 drivers are high-performance athletes who must be physically and mentally in shape to control a car racing at 218 miles per hour (351 kilometers per hour).

After each F1 race, they lose between four to eight pounds (two to four kilograms).

On the other hand, surfing is an evenly balanced aerobic and anaerobic sport that induces a healthy diet and burns unwanted fat.

It is also a highly relaxing outdoor pastime that can help relieve stress and reduce anxiety.

Therefore, it is sometimes the go-to sport for people who live their lives under tremendous pressure to perform.

Lewis Hamilton: the Formula 1 world champion learned to surf with Kai Lenny and Kelly Slater | Photo: Ryan Johnson/LH Archive

Taught by Slater and Lenny

Lewis Hamilton is the most famous F1 race driver taking on surfing.

He fell in love with the sport late in life but has quickly caught up and has become an accomplished wave rider.

His mentors are Kelly Slater and Kai Lenny, but it was with actress and Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger that he started getting in touch with boards via stand-up paddleboarding back in 2010.

Most importantly, he loves to be in the ocean and the water. Hamilton has also given wakesurfing and foil surfing a go with successful results.

Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born on January 7, 1985, in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England.

He has seven F1 world titles under his belt, over 100 pole positions, 100-plus race wins, and around 200 podium finishes.

The British sportsman is also the most successful F1 driver of all time.

But how did the racetrack professional get into waves?

Lewis Hamilton, 2015: paddling with his best friend, Coco | Photo: LH Archive

Where It All Started

Lewis Hamilton had some of his first surf lessons at the Wadi Adventure wave pool in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

It was 2014, and the F1 racing star was quickly getting the bug of surfing.

"These waves are amazing, but the best thing is no sharks! No chance of getting my ass bit!" Hamilton wrote on social media at the time.

He would probably not imagine what the future had for him.

Lewis Hamilton, 2014: surfing one of his first waves at Abu Dhabi' Wadi Adventure | Photo: LH Archive

Getting Barreled at the Surf Ranch

In January 2019, Hamilton visited Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.

The F1 world champion driver was already obsessed with surfing.

"The amount of surfing I've been watching this year is crazy," Hamilton told Kai Lenny.

"Every single day, I'm online watching surfing - anything I can get."

"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."

Luckily, the racing G.O.A.T. was fortunate enough to get free helpful tips from the surfing G.O.A.T., Kelly Slater.

The surfing star advised Hamilton on how to get barreled, first on a longboard, then on a Slater Designs shortboard.

"I've been dreaming of getting a barrel," revealed the fast racer.

Well, the truth is he managed to get covered, something many intermediate recreational surfers never do throughout their lives.

The Transparent Chlorinated Waves of Melbourne

In March 2020, Lewis Hamilton rode URBNSurf Melbourne, the Australian wave pool powered by Wavegarden.

The F1 legend grabbed a few Haydenshapes Surfboards and embraced a freshwater surf session alongside his Kiwi physiotherapist, Angela Cullen.

Lewis gave night surfing a go, too.

"It's been the weirdest day. Who goes surfing at 10 pm?"

Lewis Hamilton: going left in the URBNSurf Melbourne wave pool | Photo: LH Archive

The Pipeline Near-Death Experience

Around 2021, the English F1 driver had a near-death experience at Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Lewis was hanging with 11-time world surfing champion and eight-time Pipe Masters title holder Kelly Slater.

But he wanted to paddle out and surf the Queen of all waves.

"There's no way you're going out there," Slater said at the time.

Lewis claims he spotted a 25-foot wave detonating on the reef. Immediately after, the fearless Formula 1 champion promptly stated, "Kelly, I'm going out."

Hamilton paddled through the channel and took a few moments to watch the notorious beast breaking by his side.

"This thing was massive, a huge tunnel, and I could see Kelly coming right down it in front of me," recalled Hamilton.

"And I just had to make sure I didn't get sucked in. So I dived down and grabbed the reef and prayed."

"I could hear the thing land behind me, like a bomb going off."

"My board got ripped off and snapped in half. I was very close to the end. But that excites me for some reason."

The F1 star survived the ultimate Hawaiian wave.

Nevertheless, and despite the extreme event, he says he always trusts his instinct.

Lewis Hamilton notes that he's good at knowing his limit and that his limit is higher than most people's.

"And I've always been comfortable when I'm close to the limit."

Lewis Hamilton: when the F1 driver paddled out at Pipeline he feared for his life | Photo: LH Archive

A Night Session at the BSR Surf Resort

In Spring 2022, Hamilton continued his wave pool experiences, this time at the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas, alongside big wave surfer Makua Rothman and motocross champion Dylan Ferrandis.

The surf lagoon powered by American Wave Machines' PerfectSwell proved Lewis was already a solid intermediate wave rider.

"Surfing is my favorite sport. It really is my favorite sport," underlined the seven-time F1 world champion.

"I love the ocean, I love the water, and the power and the movement, particularly of the ocean."

"Going out there, it feels like you're disconnected from all the negative things that are going around in the world. Out there's, it's just pure."

And he had a new goal for his surfing life - airs.

"In my mind, I'm literally trying to figure out how to spin. It's really magical watching an expert do it."

At the end of the night session, Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a quick in-and-out backside barrel and another proper frontside tube.

Not bad at all.

"It's one of the most awesome feelings when you finally get in it."

"The magical thing about being in the water is the way it's moving and then letting the body go with it."

Surfing Malibu

In June 2022, Lewis Hamilton paddled out at one of the most iconic surf breaks on the planet.

The F1 driver rode Malibu Surfrider Beach with some friends in a kelp-infested lineup.

By that time, paparazzi were already following his surfing progression with interest.

Lewis Hamilton: the Formula 1 champion surfs as much as he can | Photo: LH Archive

Surfing with Sharks

In 2023, Hamilton went surfing at Byron Bay, New South Wales, ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"Byron Bay was stunning, and it's one of my new favorite places."

"There was a shark, so I was terrified the whole time. I got some great training, and I'm really fresh-minded and arrived rejuvenated."

"I can't wait to get back because I love surfing."

This was not his first time at NSW's iconic point break region. In 2019, he had already been at Byron Bay but couldn't find a safe netted area.

"I just can't go where there are sharks, man!" he said then.

"Every Australian I meet, they're like, 'Nah, you'll be alright. If a shark comes up to you, punch it in the face.' Australians are really kind of crazy, aren't they?"

One thing's certain: Lewis Hamilton is driven by adrenaline rush whether he's driving his Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 at full speed at Monza or drawing the fastest line with his surfboard in an ocean wave.

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