HANALEI — Bruce Irons called for a moment of silence in memory of his brother, Andy Irons, during Saturday’s Pine Trees Classic surfing tournament.
Conversations stopped. Kids stood attentively with surfboards. Hats came off and heads bowed.
But only for a few seconds.
“All right,” Irons said. “I don’t think my brother would want it to be too quiet for too long.”
With that, the crowd cheered.
“We love you Bruce,” someone shouted.
Bruce Irons smiled and nodded.
“Life’s good,” he said.
The 16th annual tourney on the North Shore was marked by good vibes, energy, spirit and some pretty good sets of waves under sunny skies.
About 250 surfers ages 12 and under competed for prizes and and hung out with friends as parents, uncles and aunties watched proudly, rooting them on and offering advice.
As Greg Winston kept an eye on son Makana, 12, out on his board, he chatted about the event.
“This tournament is what really turned him on to surfing,” he said. “He’s been in it since the keiki push-in division.”
Winston recalled that after the tourney one year, his son wanted to stay out and surf the whole day. He picked up the energy of the ocean.
“This contest is what lit a fire under him,” he said. “And today, he’s out there having fun.”
But, he added, it’s not about rooting just for your own children. Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, encourage all the surfers to do their best.
‘This is like the greatest family event ever to take place,” he said.
With the blast of each horn signaling the next heat, surfers attacked the waves with determination. Many came out about 10 minutes later, wet, weary but usually smiling.
Noah Raymond of Princeville said he thought he did pretty good with a couple of rides in his second heat.
“Junky waves,” he said.
Still, he was glad to be there, and he won his first heat.
“It’s just really fun,” he said.
His father, Cameron, said Noah did great.
“The kids are surfing good,” he said. “It’s tough competition.”
Cameron Raymond said the Pine Trees Classic is “awesome” and praised the Irons family, the many sponsors and volunteers.
“They do it for the kids, they put all their heart into it. Kids love it,” he said. “It gets the kids into surfing and gives them a good experience, a taste of what the contests are all about.”
The tournament, he added, is one of the North Shore’s best and most loved gatherings.
“It’s always magical, it seems like,” he said. “There’s always something out there.”
Henry Michel noted that in the keiki push-in contest, which had more than 100 surfers, everybody gets first place.
“That’s pretty awesome, the spirit of aloha,” he said.
Danielle Irons, mother of surfers Bruce and the late Andy Irons, said the tournament started as a surfing contest and a way for Bruce and Andy to give back to the children on Kauai. It’s grown into something more.
Thanks to generous sponsors, like Tamba Surf Company that gave away beautiful boards, the tourney is free and surfers received prizes, posters and food. Volunteers handling hundreds of behind-the-scenes tasks make it all come together.
“We’re so blessed,” Danielle Irons said. “Look at where all these kids live, look at what they get to do. This is my best day of the year. This is like Christmas.”
Each year, the day of the tournament is marked by an amazing spirit, she said.
“Every year, it seems like it’s blessed,” she said.
Director Milo Murguia praised the Irons family for keeping the Pine Trees Classic going and called for a round of applause, which he got.
“It’s crystal clear how much it means to the community,” he said.
Bruce Irons said he and his brother Andy grew up surfing the waves at Pine Trees. He will always treasure those days.
“We want to give back, this beach has done so much for us,” he said.
He said Andy, who died in 2010, would be “really stoked” to know the tournament in the family name continues to unite the community.
“It’s beautiful place we grew up and get to live at,” he said. “I hope everyone really appreciates it. I know me and my brother do.”