“The Eddie” Surf Comp Will Not Run This Year

By Hawaii.com Team

The Eddie, February 25, 2016. Photo: Salty Glass Co.

It is known simply as “The Eddie.” And just like musicians and performing artists whose fame is so widespread that one single name suffices, this world famous surf competition needs no introduction — or extra accouterment. Named after — and held in memory of — iconic Hawaiian big wave surfer Eddie Aikau, the historical official title of this popular event, which takes place on the North Shore of Oahu, is The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. However, the name may change, as we’ll discuss below.

A Surf Competition with Specific Requirements

he Eddie, February 25, 2016. Photo: Salty Glass Co.

As well as boasting some of the best waves on Earth, this much anticipated event is highly unique, in that it doesn’t always happen (or “run,” as they officially term it). The holding period for The Eddie is December through February. This means that the contest can take place anytime within the period of time. However, strict wave criteria and conditions have to be met before this World Surfing League Specialty Event can be called ON. There must be 8 hours of sustained surf with wave 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.

Before the 2015-2016 season’s spectacular showing, which local favorite and North Shore native John John Florence won, the Eddie had not run for seven years, since 2009. In fact, the Eddie has only run a total of 9.5 times (taking into account the halfway cancelation) in the entire history of the comp. And with so much waiting involved, some will wonder if it’s worth it to maintain such strict requirements. The specific surf competition “rules” were first established between Quiksilver and the Aikau family more than 30 years ago. And they must think that it is worth waiting, since they have stuck to their guns in maintaining them throughout three decades now.

Waiting for the right time and perfect conditions has kept this event sacred and has served to protect the memory of Eddie Aikau. The 2015-2016 Eddie was what many described as near perfection, yet the surf gods withheld in the 2016-2017 holding period, and the Eddie was decidedly OFF.

Eddie OFF for 2017-2018 Season

he Eddie, February 25, 2016. Photo: Salty Glass Co.

As the 2017-2018 window for the big swell season approached again, we waited in eager anticipation with abated breath, wondering, hoping that this winter: Eddie will go!

However, an announcement made by the Aikau family’s spokeswoman, Cynthia Scrima, on November 29, 2017 said that the contest would not be held this season. The reason The Eddie will not run this year is twofold. One, the contest’s sponsor of over 30 years, Quiksilver, withdrew from the partnership in October 2017. You can read the Aikau family narrative here and the Quicksilver narrative here. The Aikau family is seeking a new title sponsor. (But we’re hopeful the Aikau family and Quiksilver will come to terms by next season.)

The second reason is that there were issues with the permitting. The permit has since been obtained, but time and resources don’t allow for proper planning in time to hold a 2017-2018 season Eddie.

“It really is the most prestigious surf contest in the world. And we did not want to compromise that because it ultimately would be compromising Eddie’s integrity to not do something proper,” said Scrima.

How’s the outlook for the 2018-2019 season? Well, according to Scrima, the Aikaus have already obtained a permit for next year and have been searching for a new sponsor.

“Eddie Would Go”

Photo: Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The history of the event is as sacred and special as the surf competition itself, being held in honor of Waimea Bay’s first lifeguard, Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau, known and remembered for heroically saving people from the high surf at Waimea Bay as well as for surfing it. He had a perfect record of saves, remarkably never losing a single person on his watch. He is also known for his sacrificial death aboard the Hōkūleʻa, a Polynesian voyaging canoe, in March 1978.

The vessel was sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti when it capsized, and 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 had always represented.

So this winter, regardless of the Eddie being called OFF, the memory and profound meaning of the event will unequivocally remain ON in our minds and hearts. Mahalo, Eddie, for going.

See also:
Vans Triple Crown Brings the World’s Best Wave Riders to Oahu’s North Shore
“The Eddie” February 2016: Hawaii Big Wave Surfing at Its Finest (2016)
Mecca. The Banzai. The Proving Grounds: The Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons (2016)
Brazilians Take the Crowns at North Shore Surfing Competitions (2015)

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