VIDEO: Highlights from Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surf Comp Yesterday | The Biggest It’s Ever Been at “The Eddie”

SwellBrains | | SurfSurf

Highlights from yesterday's historic Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event.

Posted by World Surf League on Friday, February 26, 2016

The legendary Eddie Aikau surf competition went down at Waimea, Oahu, Hawaii yesterday in the biggest surf the comp has ever seen.  This comp has only gone down 9 times in its 31 year history.  Waves have to have 20-30 foot faces, and be surfable for an 8 hour window.

Eddie Aikau.
Eddie Aikau.

The line up was full of legends including Kelly Slater, John John Florence, 66-year-old Clyde Aikou (Eddie’s brother), Ross Clarke-Jones, Mark Healy, Peter Mel, Shane Dorian, and many more.

John John Florence, 27, won the whole thing and was honored.

“Today means everything. It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life. I was just stoked to be a part of this event, growing up on the North Shore, watching The Eddies run — and there’s only been a few of them since I’ve been alive — how big the waves were today.” – John John told KHON2

Ferocious wipeouts and heroic rides were the norm yesterday and, of course, Kelly Slater pulled into a heaving barrel that blew minds…

All we did was watch this comp yesterday.  Simply unreal.

Eddie Aikau.
Eddie Aikau.


Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau (Kahului, Hawaii, May 4, 1946 – March 17, 1978) was a well-known Hawaiian lifeguard and surfer. The words Makua Hanai in Eddie Aikau’s full name means feeding parent, an adoptive, nurturing, fostering parent, in the Hawaiian language. As the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the island of Oahu, he saved over 500 people and became famous for surfing the big Hawaiian surf, winning several awards including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.

Born in Kahului, Maui, Aikau was the third child of Solomon and Henrietta Aikau. He was a descendant of Hewahewa, the kahuna nui (high priest) of King Kamehameha I and his successor Kamehameha II. Aikau first learned how to surf at Kahului Harbor on its shorebreak. He moved to Oʻahuwith his family in 1959, and at the age of 16 left school and started working at the Dole pineapple cannery; The paycheck allowed Aikau to buy his first surfboard. In 1968, he became the first lifeguard hired by the City & County of Honolulu to work on the North Shore. The City & County of Honolulu gave Aikau the task of covering all of the beaches between Sunset and Haleiwa. Not one life was lost while he served as lifeguard of Waimea Bay, as he braved waves that often reached 30 feet (9.1 m) high or more.  In 1971, Aikau was named Lifeguard of the Year.

Lost at sea

In 1978, the Polynesian Voyaging Society was seeking volunteers for a 30-day, 2,500-mile (4,000 km) journey to follow the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian island chains. At 31 years of age, Aikau joined the voyage as a crew member. The Hokule’a left the Hawaiian islands on March 16, 1978. The double-hulled voyaging canoe developed a leak in one of the hulls and later capsized about twelve miles (19 km) south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get help, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Although the rest of the crew was later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cape Corwin, Aikau was never seen again. He removed his lifejacket since it was hindering his paddling of the surfboard. The ensuing search for Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history.

Memorial surfing invitational

In Aikau’s honor, the surfwear company Quiksilver sponsors the “The Eddie”—the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay. The idea of the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational was created by Bruce Raymond and Bob McKnight.

Since its inception (the first Eddie was held at Sunset Beach in 1985;  in 1987 Eddie Aikau’s younger brother Clyde Aikau won the first Eddie after it moved to Waimea Bay), the tournament has only been held nine times, due to a precondition that open-ocean swells reach a minimum of 20 feet (this translates to a wave face height of over 30 feet). The most recent tournament was in February 2016, when waves in the bay reached 30 to 50 feet (15 m) high.[13] The contest invites only 28 big-wave riders to participate in two rounds of competition. The event does not allow the use of jet skis to tow surfers into the waves. – Wikipedia


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