Surfer Laird Hamilton rides a business wave

Clark Riedel, owner of traditional surfboard-shaping company Evolution Surf in Del Mar, Calif., says stand-up paddlers trying to be like Hamilton have become ocean nuisances. They travel in large groups and monopolize the water because the larger boards let them catch waves earlier than traditional surfers can.

"Surfing was never a team sport. Now, it's the herd," he says, adding that surfers call stand-up paddle boards "barges."

"Laird has created new things to market," Riedel says. "But surfing is about simplicity."

Meanwhile, just as snowboarders were outcasts at ski resorts at first, stand-up paddlers are finding resistance on the water. Surftech's Brouwer says he's been told by officials at reservoirs and lakes several times to get out of the water, even when boats are coasting by.

Hamilton thinks that eventually surfers will get used to the newcomers, and stand-up paddling will be welcome. "I'll ride where I want. Write me up. Arrest me," he says. "It's part of sharing the ocean."

It's that break-through-the-barriers attitude that bodes well for Hamilton's business life. "If you don't believe in something, how can you sell it?" he says.

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