The Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational In Memory of Eddie Aikau, an ASP Specialty Event, is due to take place in Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu some time before 28th Feb 2007.
Allowing plenty of recuperation time for New Year’s Eve festivities, the upcoming major swell that has organizers and surfers in the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitation in Memory of Eddie Aikau on standby is set to start showing this week.
“At this point, by our best estimations, what we’re looking at is good conditions and a good duration of swell, but the one issue remains the size,” said Contest Director George Downing. “I’ve been comparing the readings we’re seeing so far and the swell this week looks very much like the swell we had on February 5, 2006 – beautiful waves, but only in the range of 18-20 feet. It’s the average that we like to look at. At 18- to 20-feet, the average height of waves arriving at Waimea doesn’t quite meet the criteria. What we want for the event is a minimum of 20 feet. So at this stage, we’re just going to have to keep watching the models to see how the numbers come out.”
Having made such an accurate and early call the last time the event was held, back in the winter of 04/05, Downing has almost made his own job more difficult. Now all those with an earnest interest in the event look for the call to be made well in advance of the actual day. But it is possible that the standby call can be in effect right up until an 8am or 9am start the day of competition. That means that we may not know if the event will go or not until the early hours of the contest morning.
The event is to be held on one day when surf measures at least 20 feet (40 feet faces). The Big-Wave Riders: 24 of the world’s best big-wave riders, including defending champion Bruce Irons (Hawaii), eight-time world champion-elect Kelly Slater (Florida), and Aikau’s younger brother and former champion Clyde Aikau. US$88,000 in prize money, US$55,000 for first place.
The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational In Memory of Eddie Aikau. 22nd Anniversary. Created in 1985 to honor legendary Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau, this event gathers 24 of the most accomplished paddle-in big wave riders from around the world. The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational takes place each winter at the hallowed ground of Waimea Bay, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, on a single day when open-ocean swells measure a minimum of 20 feet – translating to wave face heights of more than 30 feet.
Champions of this event include 7-time world champ Kelly Slater (Florida), Bruce Irons (Kauai, HI), Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia), and Aikau’s younger brother Clyde. No-one has ever won the event twice. Given the strict wave height requirement, the event has only been held a total of seven times in 21 years.
Unlike most of today’s big-wave events, The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational In Memory of Eddie Aikau remains true to big-wave riding’s roots and does not allow the use of Personal Water Craft (jet-ski) to tow riders into waves. Competitors must paddle (as opposed to tow in) themselves into heaving mountains of water, up to six-stories high, under their own arm power, then successfully make the drop and ride out the thundering waves.
Total prize money is US$86,800. First place receives US$55,000, 2nd US$10,000, 3rd US$5,000, 4th US$3,000, 5th US$2,000, 6th US$1,000, and 7th through 24th place each receive US$600.
Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Just as Hawaii is considered the birth-place of surfing, Waimea Bay stands as the birth-place of big-wave riding. In spite of a half-century of global surf searching, “The Bay” still stands today as one of the world’s most challenging big wave venues. Waimea was where Aikau worked as the Bay’s first lifeguard, saving countless lives.
Waimea Bay is also hallowed ground for Hawaiians. Atop its northern valley wall lies an ancient ‘heiau’ (sacred site) that offers a window to ancient Hawaiian times while overlooking the North Shore’s most breath-taking view. This heiau was once the site of Hawaiian religious offering, sacrifice and important gatherings.
Twenty-four surfers will each compete in two rounds during the one day of competition. Depending upon the conditions, competitors will be allowed to ride three or four waves per heat in each round. Their four best scoring waves at the end of two rounds will make up their total. Those invitees will be announced later in the year.
- 1985 – Denton Miyamura (Hawaii)
- 1986 – Clyde Aikau (Hawaii) – Eddie Aikau’s younger brother
- 1990 – Keone Downing (Hawaii)
- 1999 – Noah Johnson (Hawaii)
- 2000 – Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia)
- 2002 – Kelly Slater (Florida, USA)
- 2004 – Bruce Irons (Hawaii, USA)
About Eddie Aikau
Born May 4, 1946, Edward Ryon Aikau was the third of six children to a Hawaiian family. His life became one rooted deep within the ocean – a pioneering lifeguard, passionate big-wave rider, all around waterman and Hawaiian traditionalist. He was lost at sea during an epic voyage in 1978 when the double-hull voyaging canoe Hokule’a capsized in storm seas in the Molokai Channel, en-route to Tahiti. Aikau paddled away in a rescue attempt March 17, 1978. He was never seen again. His life is now legend.
The complete holding period for this specialty one-day event is December 1, 2006 to February 28, 2007. Competition will take place on just one day, when open ocean swell heights reach the required minimum of 20 feet. Contest director George Downing will make the call. The decision will be based upon long-range ocean and weather forecasts and conditions at hand. If one full day of giant waves with favorable surface conditions does not occur during the designated period, the event will not be held, which means waiting 12 months for the next big wave season to roll around. Over the past 20 years, the event was held six times at Waimea Bay and once at Sunset Beach in the founding year of the event. Hours of competition are from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on contest day.
Details on the The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational In Memory of Eddie Aikau, including photos and event information, are available at www.quiksilver.com/thequiksilverbigwave or www.quiksilver.com/bigwave