Sullivan, Pancho

Bespectacled Hawaiian power surfer, born (1973) in a bamboo treehouse located on a seven-acre commune on Kauai's Napali Coast. Sullivan and his mother moved to Oahu in 1980, he got his first surfboard the following year, and by age 15 he was riding big waves at Sunset Beach on the North Shore.

By the mid-'90s, Sullivan had packed 190 muscle-laden pounds onto his once-lanky six-foot frame, and was turning his board with more force than all but three or four other people in the sport. For year...