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Surfers Steamer Lane, Jody Wallis, and Chase Colton come to Oahu Island to ride the world's biggest waves and compete against surfers from all over the world. Steamer falls in love with Lily Kilua, whose mother objects to the romance because she considers surfers to be "beach bums." Jody falls in love with Brie Matthews, who convinces him that he can be more than a surf bum if he wishes. The stuffy Chase falls in love with fun-loving Augie Poole, who teaches him to enjoy life. Jody continues the sport despite his mounting fear after he is nearly killed while surfing. To make a Hawaiian legend connected with bringing in the big waves come true, Chase makes a dangerous 80-foot dive into a rocky pool. The big waves come and the competition begins. Chase almost drowns and Jody risks his life to save him. Steamer is dropped from competition when his surfoard breaks, but his disappointment is compensated for by Mrs. Kilua's decision to give her approval to his romance with Lily. Only Jody and Eskimo, the previous year's champion, remain in competition. Eskimo quits and Jody, exhausted but triumphant, rides a 40-foot wave alone to the waiting Brie.