You might think “Olympics” when we mention a contest that’s been held only nine times since 1984; but we’re talking about the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau — most affectionately referred to as “The Eddie.”
The contest is a tribute to the life of one of the two most influential watermen in Hawaii’s history (Duke Kahanamoku being the other). He was a big-wave surfing legend on Oahu’s North Shore, the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay (where wintertime waves top 50 feet) and a member of the first Hokule`a journey in 1978.
The Eddie is held only when conditions are right — wave faces need to be larger than 40 feet, and the waves need to be consistent enough that contest can be held, which takes about nine hours. All told, the event has only been held nine times in 32 years (including yesterday, February 25, 2016!), and once in the last six.
If you are traveling to Hawai`i between December 1 and the last day of February (the holding period for the contest), and if you are very lucky, you may be treated to the biggest spectacle in big-wave surfing. There are other popular meets in Mavericks (California) and Jaws (Maui), but the Eddie, held in Oahu’s Waimea Bay is the true test of man vs. ocean. All contestants are required to paddle into the waves (as opposed to being towed-in by jet ski) which means that rides are usually short and violent. The break at Mavericks is similar, but because the Eddie requires such massive waves for the contest to be green-lighted, it is held in the highest regard. By comparison, the Titans of Mavericks contest has been held 10 times since 1999.
THE EDDIE Contest Winners:
Highlights from yesterday’s historic Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event.
Posted by World Surf League on Friday, February 26, 2016
More footage from the 2016 Eddie.