Wade Carmichael: blue but powerful | Photo: ASP/Sloane

The 2014 Vans World Cup of Surfing kicked off in giant surf, at Sunset Beach, Hawaii.

Shifty peaks delivered waves in the 10- to 15-foot range. It was heavy out the back, but local knowledge proved to be enough to get through to Round 2.

Kai Barger stole the show, on the first day of competition. The surfer from Maui had the highest wave score and the best heat total of Round 1.

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Tristan Thompson: night lunatic | Photo: Red Bull

Tristan Thompson conquered the Red Bull Night Riders 2014, at Jacksonville Beach, in Florida.

Thousands of surfing fans flocked into the dark, as their idols got towed into the waves. Surfers have 12 minutes per round to pull off their best tricks.

Thompson, 18, impressed with an inverted frontside 360 air in the second round. The judges were convinced, despite the choppy wave conditions. Tristan ended up being crowned event champion, among six night riders.

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Dawn Patrol: the surfers' hour | Photo: Rip Curl

Experienced surfers will always tell you that the best time to ride waves is generally in the morning and right before getting dark. There are very good reasons behind that rule of thumb.

It's always hard to leave a comfortable bed, especially on those early morning winter days, Saturdays and Sundays. The famous dawn patrol may be a pleasure for many, but it is also painful for millions of surfers worldwide.

So why do surfers wake up early in search of waves? Why is it better to put on a wetsuit at 7:30am and paddle out in cold water? Is it a ritual, a solemn rite, or are there scientific explanations for that masochistic behavior? Let's see.

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