The 31st annual Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau has been put on green alert for this Wednesday, February 10. The prestigious big-wave invitational has a holding period set during the most active swell season on Hawaii's North Shore (Dec. 1 - Feb. 28) and requires waves more than 20 feet (40-foot faces) to run. This winter's El Niño weather pattern has been generating swell throughout the Pacific for months now and already provided contestable conditions for the Big Wave Tour's Pe'ahi Challenge and Todos Santos Challenge, not to mention numerous submissions for the Big Wave Awards.
"At this point it appears that the swell will peak during the overnight hours from Wednesday," said Surfline lead forecaster, Kevin Wallis, "with the largest waves during daylight hours showing late Wednesday and early Thursday. Model guidance puts this in the same ballpark as the swell from this past Friday."
If the green alert continues it will be the ninth time it has run in its three-decade history. The last time it ran, in 2009, the contest had a record crowd of more than 30,000 on the beach, cliffs and road around Waimea Bay. That year the Eddie also scored the most international media coverage of any surfing event in history. Big Wave World Tour surfer Greg Long won the event.
The big-wave event honors the legendary Eddie Aikau, Waimea Bay's first lifeguard. A North Shore local and respected waterman, Aikau spent his free time rescuing swimmers and surfing big swells. After competing as a professional surfer, he was selected to join an expedition on a Polynesian voyaging canoe -- the Hokule'a -- headed for Tahiti. But the mission was quickly abandoned when the Hokule'a encountered a storm and capsized. After surviving the night with his crew mates, Aikau decided to paddle to land for help.
Despite his unparalleled skills in the water, he would never reach land. A massive manhunt began, including the deployment of the largest air and sea search in Hawaiian history, but Aikau was never seen again.
The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau honors the waterman's legendary courage. The contest format has two rounds, each with a maximum wave count of eight waves. Each surfer's best four waves count toward the final score, with a maximum individual wave score of 100 points based on size, risk and how well the wave was surfed.
Invitees for 2015/2016 include Clyde Aikau, Eddie's brother and winner of the second Eddie event, 11-time World Champ and 2001/2002 Eddie winner Kelly Slater (USA).
To view the full list of Invitees & Alternates, visit Quiksilver.com/Eddie.
1985/1986: Denton Miyamura (HAW)
1986/1987: Clyde Aikau (HAW)
1989/1990: Keone Downing (HAW)
1998/1999: Noah Johnson (HAW)
2000/2001: Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
2001/2002: Kelly Slater (USA)
2004/2005: Bruce Irons (HAW)
2009/2010: Greg Long (USA)