By Jeff Johnson
It’s 2002. Dan Malloy, the youngest of the Malloy brothers, is surfing in a contest at Sunset Beach on Oʻahu. He is 25 years old and upholding a foundation built by his two older brothers, which has made him the most hopeful of the Malloy clan to excel in the competitive surfing world. But it’s been a slow road. Although he is arguably one of the best “free” surfers in the world, his rankings on the pro tour show otherwise.
For his brothers, there aren’t many expectations to fill. They know how difficult it is to do well at Sunset Beach, an arena notorious for big, funky, irregular surf. Regardless, the day is sunny, the water an opaque turquoise blue, and the waves are big—the size of telephone poles. Dan, trying to match his freakish, natural ability with the nuances of contest surfing, is more discerning than ever with his wave selection. Just before the end of his heat he catches a set wave. He makes the long drop, fading confidently back toward the towering whitewater, turns at the bottom, and pulls up into a giant tube ride. Dan disappears for a time that seems to stand still, and emerges out on the face. The crowd of spectators erupts. He can hear the hoots and crackling applause as he paddles in toward the beach.