Surfers and locals were recently elated when it was announced that this years Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational competition would go ahead as planned. This was after a long period of uncertainty following negotiations between the World Surf League, Quiksilver and the Aikau family over the event.
The exclusive and unique contest is also named ‘The Eddie’, after Hawaiian big wave surfing legend Eddie Aikau. Eddie was tragically lost at sea during a voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti. The double hulled voyaging canoe he was travelling in developed a leak and eventually capsized. All the crewmembers floated in the turbulent water for hours, not knowing when, or if, they would ever be found. Eddie, being a legendary surfer and strong swimmer paddled toward the island of Lanai on a surfboard in an attempt to seek help. Although the rest of his crew was later rescued by the U.S Coast Guard, that was the last time anyone would ever see Eddie Aikau. “Eddie would go” is a famous catchphrase amongst surfers the world over.
The Eddie big wave competition is the most important and respected surfing event in the world. It is only given permission to go ahead in the most pristine surfing conditions, including waves that meet a minimum 20-foot height standard. Over the past 32 years, there have only been 9 champions crowned, meaning that over the past 32 years the specific conditions have only allowed the contest to proceed 9 times.
Now the 52 surfers that have been invited to compete in the acclaimed event face an anxious wait from December to February to see if conditions will be favorable to allow the event will go ahead. “The Bay Will Call The Day” is the phrase dedicated to the decision making process behind the event. When Waimea Bay roars to life, the contest proceeds.
The legend of Eddie Aikau is best memorialized during the opening ceremony, when his story is told again and again. This is keeping with the tradition of Hawaiian culture and history being oral. Their customs and legends are not passed on by being written down.
The Eddie is relived each year on the North Shore of Waimea Bay by surfers, fans, friends and family. But this exclusive event isn’t about the competition or the title. It’s purely about big wave surfing. It’s about spirit, integrity and upholding the prestige and honor of the legendary Eddie Aikau.