Contributing Writer

When the waves would get big at Waimea Bay, Eddie would go. And now, the women of big wave surfing finally get to go, too. They’ll officially get their first chance to compete at the iconic break this season.

The first ever all-women’s contest at Waimea Bay has obtained permits for an event — which organizers intend to run in 40-foot surf — during a holding period lasting from October 1 to November 21.

Dubbed the Women’s Waimea Bay Championship, the comp has an invitee list of 22 competitors including Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Bianca Valenti, Felicity Palmateer, Savannah Shaughnessy, and more of the biggest names in the sport.

The event’s website explains that the comp will be dedicated to a powerful female figure in Hawaiian history, Queen Kuhina Nui ka’ahumanu, a regent of the kingdom and a “strong Hawaiian monarch and surfer (who) sat at the table and dined beside the king.”

“In this spirit we wish to sit at the table, to humbly showcase the raw beauty found in the giant surf of Waimea Bay, and to demonstrate the strength and grace of the women who ride her waves,” the site says.

The event’s creation comes at a time when female surfers are cementing their place in the world of big wave competition. Last year saw the first all-women’s heat in the WSL Peahi Challenge, and women will play a significant role in the next competition held at Maverick’s (if that ever happens). Still, the WSL has yet to organize a big wave tour for female competitors, and the new contest at Waimea could make up for insufficient support from the industry as a whole.

Organizers are currently seeking event sponsors.

“It really helps that the stuff with Titans of Mavericks got a lot of publicity, and the WSL ponying up and giving us an event at Jaws. It puts a spotlight on women’s big wave surfing,” says Kennelly, the who the first women to ever receive an invitation to the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea. “I’ve seen quite a few women out there in recent years” when the bay is breaking, she says.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.