“The Eddie” February 2016: Hawaii Big Wave Surfing at Its Finest

By Napua Heen

Big wave surfing in Hawaii was at its finest during the 31st Annual Eddie Aikau surf competition.

Officially entitled, The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, a World Surfing League Specialty Event, this much anticipated Hawaii surf event was called ON for February 25, 2016 at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. This prestigious event has not run since 2009.

“The Eddie” February 2016: Hawaii Big Wave Surfing at Its Finest

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Congratulations to Winner John John Florence!

Congratulations to John John Florence!

North Shore native, John John Florence wins The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau 2016!

Other high performers were veteran Ross Clarke-Jones, who captured a 96 out of 100 for the highest score of the day, and Shane Dorian.

Eddie 2016 Top 10

The crowd favorite seemed to be Clyde Aikau, younger brother of Eddie Aikau. At 66 years of age, “Uncle Clyde” demonstrated classic Hawaiian big wave surfing in what is said to be the last time he will participate in the Eddie. And what an amazing event it was!

Visit the World Surfing League website for more highlights.

Aikau said early this morning that this is the best day at Waimea he’s seen in 40 years. Quiksilver co-founder, Bob Knight, concurred, stating that this is the “biggest Eddie ever.”

The Reason We Wait

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, now in its 31st year, has only run 9.5 times in the history of the surfing event. The reason is that there are strict requirements to run the Eddie. There must be 8 hours of sustained surf with waves heights of 20-30 feet Hawaiian (40-50 conventional) at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. With such prestigious requirements, the Eddie does not always get called “ON.” And once, the Eddie was even cancelled half way through. Thus the .5 of the 9.5 times the event has run.

With so much waiting involved, some will wonder if it’s worth it to maintain such strict requirements. These requirements were established between Quiksilver and the Aikau family over 30 years ago. And they have stuck to their guns through three decades.

Waiting for the right time and perfect conditions has kept this event sacred and has served to protect the memory of Eddie Aikau.

Today, February 25, 2016, the 31st Annual Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau has been the epitome of what the event was intended to be. Conditions were perfect, albeit scary, for the surfers who took to the water and for the fans crowding the beach and surrounding areas.

“The reason we wait is to get a day like today,” says Knight.

Hawaii Water Patrol – Heroes of the Day Demonstrate the Spirit of Eddie

The Hawaii Water Patrol was busy in the water pulling the surfers back to the safety of the channel. Patrolmen put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the safety of others. At more than one point, the Hawaii Water Patrol jet skis could be seen outrunning the waves on the inside of the bay when the bay was closing out.

About mid-morning five of the seven jet skis in the water raced for the safety of the shore, beaching themselves and successfully avoid danger. Two of the seven jet skis remained outside of the break. Immediately, the beached jet skis turned themselves around and navigated back out to the line-up of surfers. And it was not a moment too soon.

A massive wave rolled in, breaking farther out than usual and landing right on top of the line-up of surfers. About three to four surfers end up boardless. Among them was John John Florence whose leash broke.

Hawaii Water Patrol was quick to the rescue, demonstrating superior lifeguard skills in the true spirit of the Eddie.

Eddie Would Go

Photo: Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Photo: Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is held in honor of Waimea Bay’s first lifeguard, Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau. Eddie Aikau is known and remembered for heroically saving people from the high surf at Waimea Bay as the bay. He had a perfect record of saves; he never lost a person on his watch. He is also known for his sacrificial death.

Eddie Aikau was a member of the Hōkūleʻa, a Polynesian voyaging canoe that was sailing from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti when it capsized. Eddie Aikau paddled his surfboard out into the open ocean to seek help for his fellow crew members. He was never seen again, but his memory lives on in the saying, “Eddie Would Go!” Not only would Eddie charge the huge waves at Waimea Bay, but he would also lay down his life for others. That is what The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau stands for.

Judging Format for the Eddie Aikau

Each surfer surfs two heats. Surfers can only surf four waves per heat, for a total of eight possible waves in the day. Each surfer’s four best waves will be used toward their score. Waves are scored on a scale of 1-100.

You will see wave sharing during the Eddie Aikau, which is unusual for surfing tournaments.

For more details on the Eddie’s rules and scoring, see the World Surf League’s website.

List of Previous Eddie Winners

Past Winners

Highlights from the 2009 Eddie Aikau

The last tournament was won by Greg Long of California when “The Eddie” was held on December 8, 2009.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Heat Draw:

Round 1/Heat 1
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Greg Long (USA)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)

Round 1/Heat 2
Kelly Slater (USA)
David Wassell (HAW)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Tom Carroll (AUS)

Round 1/Heat 3
John John Florence (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
Clyde Aikau (HAW)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Noah Johnson (HAW)
Peter Mel (USA)
Takayuki Wakita (JPN)

Round 1/Heat 4
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Makua Rothman (HAW)
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Albee Layer (HAW)
Kala Alexander (HAW)
Garrett McNamara (HAW)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)

Round 2/Heat 1
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Greg Long (USA)
Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Tom Carroll (AUS)

Round 2/Heat 2
Kelly Slater (USA)
David Wassell (HAW)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)

Round 2/Heat 3
John John Florence (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
Clyde Aikau (HAW)
Albee Layer (HAW)
Kala Alexander (HAW)
Garrett McNamara (HAW)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)

Round 2/Heat 4
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Makua Rothman (HAW)
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Noah Johnson (HAW)
Peter Mel (USA)
Takayuki Wakita (JPN)

Alternates List
Mason Ho (HAW)
Danilo Couto (BRA)
Mark Mathews (AUS)
Koa Rothman (HAW)
Ben Wilkinson (AUS)
Jamie Sterling (AUS)
Billy Kemper (HAW)
Shawn Dollar (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Gabriel Villaran (USA)
Michael Ho (HAW)
Kai Lenny (HAW)
Kahea Hart (HAW)
Nathan Florence (HAW)
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Kalani Chapman (HAW)
Ryan Hipwood (AUS)
Danny Fuller (HAW)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Anthony Tashnick (HAW)
Rusty Long (HAW)
Derek Dunfee (USA)
Brock Little (USA)

*Courtesy World Surfing League.

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