This year’s waiting period for The Eddie is about to start and with predictions going strong for El Niño it looks like chances are pretty good the event will actually take place this winter. You might be asking yourselves “What’s all this excitement about?” and “Who in the world is Eddie?”, but no worries. I got you covered.
The Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau is considered the original big wave riding event. It is a one-day event at Oahu’s Waimea Bay, which only takes place, when wave heights meet or exceed the Hawaiian 20-foot minimum (wave face heights of approximately 40 feet). This is the threshold at which Eddie Aikau, a local Hawaiian hero, who was not only known for his fierce big wave riding abilities, but also for his repsect of the ocean and safety concerns of everyone who entered it, enjoyed riding the bay. The event has a three-month waiting period from December 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016 and will only be held in said conditions.
Edward Ryon Makuahanai “Eddie” Aikau was born on May 4, 1946 on the island of Maui. He later relocated with his family to Oahu, where in 1968 he would become the first life guard to work on the north shore. During this time he conducted over 500 rescue missions, sometimes in surf as high as 20 feet or more. Not one life was lost under his watch. Next to his bravery as a life guard Eddie Aikau also became known for his big wave surfing abilities, winning several surfing awards including First Place at the prestigious 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.
Eddie also became involved in perpetuating the Hawaiian heritage. In March 1978, at 31 years of age, he was selected crew member on the Hokule’a, a double-hulled voyaging canoe going on a 30-day, 2500 mile journey following the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands. Soon after leaving the port though, the Hokule’a developed a leak and later capsized in a storm about twelve miles south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get to land and save the crew, Eddie paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Hours later the Hokule’a was spotted by a commercial airplane and the crew was finally rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The ensuing search for Eddie was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history, but he was never seen again.
The phrase “Eddie would go.” is said to originate during the first “The Eddie” contest. Contest organizers were discussing whether to put it on or not, because the surf was huge and conditions were extremely dangerous. Surfing legend Mark Foo looked at the conditions and said “Eddie would go.” and so the event went. The phrase has stuck ever since.
“The Eddie” has only been held eight times since its initiation, winners including Eddie’s younger brother Clyde Aikau, as well as Bruce Irons, Kelly Slater, and Greg Long. The contest only invites 28 surfers to participate in the competition and does not allow the use of jet skis to tow surfers into the waves. This year’s list if invites includes Bruce Irons, Clyde Aikau, Garrett McNamara, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, Jamie O’Brien, John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Makua Rothman, Peter Mel, Reef McIntosh, Shane Dorian, and Sunny Garcia.
Below you can watch the trailer of “Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” as well as the official trailer of this year’s Eddie Invitational.