Tradition

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It’s an hour before sunset, and about 30 of the world’s best big-wave chargers are holding hands in a nearly perfect circle in the channel at Waimea Bay. They’re taking part in the opening ceremony for the contest humbly named The Quiksilver In Memory Of Eddie Aikau, and from the beach the surfers don’t look like the Irons brothers, the Malloys, Braden Dias, Ross Clarke-Jones, Noah Johnson, or Kelly Slater–they’re undistinguishable from one another. It’s as if they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and they’ve put aside whatever reputation and/or marketed image they may possess to take part in a tradition A crowd of several hundred watch from the beach as the ring floats silently, occasionally unclasping hands to splash water and perform other duties of those invited to participate in the ceremony. For the next two months, these guys will be on standby for the right twenty-plus-foot swell to hit the Bay. When that happens, they’ll drop whatever they’re doing and come back to stare into the abyss and see if it stares back.–Joel Patterson