The three-month holding period for the 2016/17 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, a World Surf League (WSL) Specialty Event, will draw to a close at 4pm HST tomorrow. “The Eddie” can only run when wave face heights hit the range of 40-feet-plus for a full day of competition – an opportunity that did not present itself this winter.
Beginning in 1985, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational has been an invite-only big-wave event that takes place at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, where the late Eddie Aikau served as the North Shore’s first lifeguard. The waterman became a legendary figure in Hawaii after an ill-fated attempt to save fellow crew members onboard the Hōkūle’a in 1978, and continues to inspire generations with his symbolism of bravery, camaraderie and aloha spirit.
The Eddie has only run nine times in its storied 32-year history. As a WSL specialty-sanctioned big-wave event, The Eddie has drawn a prestigious cross-section of the world’s finest watermen, including competitors from the elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) and underground chargers that hold high merit within the big wave community.
The event is famous for its traditional Hawaiian opening ceremony, live broadcast and incredible atmosphere. North Shore native John John Florence (HAW) remains the event’s defending champion after claiming the coveted title in February 2016. From there, he went on to stamp out one of the greatest years in Hawaii surfing history after claiming the WSL World Championship and Vans Triple Crown title, among other awards.
Other past victors include Eddie’s brother, Clyde Aikau (HAW) in 1986, 11x World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) in 2002, Kauai’s Bruce Irons in 2004 and big wave pioneer Greg Long (USA) in 2009. This past season saw the first female alternate included in the esteemed list, Keala Kennelly (HAW), who is a recognized big wave surfer and decorated professional athlete.
For now, Oahu’s big wave season quiets down as the swells shift to the southern coastlines and the attention turns to the first stop on the WSL Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia from March 14 – 25. Fans can tune in to watch the competition live on WorldSurfLeague.com or catch the action on WSL’s mobile app, available for download HERE.