Yesterday we reported that the Aikau family had officially put the kibosh on the Eddie this year. The contest’s namesake, Eddie Aikau, as is well known, is a titan in surf history (here’s some further reading on his story and the origin of the phrase “Eddie Would Go” for the uninitiated). And the contest itself, by virtue of who it’s named for and that it only happens every few years, is one of if not the most prestigious around. Invitees from John John Florence to Kohl Christensen have commented on feeling honored just to receive an invite, competing (or even winning, for that matter) if the contest does run is simply icing on top of the wave.
For years, Quiksilver has supported the Eddie monetarily – pumping out new logo-wear every year irrespective of whether the event runs. But after a falling out, the Aikau family obtained the permit to the contest, and while it won’t run this year due to “insufficient time and resources,” the Aikaus are apparently looking for a title sponsor to pick up the torch and foot the bill to give the event the coverage it deserves in 2018-2019. Word is maybe Red Bull will open its wallet? But here’s an idea, why not crowdfund the thing?
Permit me to remove my affiliations with this surf media outlet for a minute and speak to you as a humble surf fan. When the Eddie ran last in early 2016, I was full tilt into my final semester of graduate school in New York. While Decembers in NYC are marked by an enthusiasm for the holidays and snow, February is bleak, grey, and the cold seeps into your bones. When the Eddie was greenlit, I remember holing up somewhere near a space heater and watching with delight, taking in the gravitas. The energy was contagious, even from thousands of miles away in a much less temperate clime.
It’s with that spirit that I would proudly throw down some change to ensure the Eddie would run again, this time free of corporate interests in the way, I think at least, Eddie might have wanted it. And I have to think other surf fans feel the same.
Red Bull has deep pockets, sure. But as a title sponsor, there are all sorts of problems. Not least of which, we can expect the WSL (as it did with Red Bull’s Cape Fear) to bar its athletes from competing in a Red Bull-owned event. There are a million and one other corporations that could throw money at the Eddie, too. But consider for a minute the implications of a corporate sponsor-free event with the level of exposure the Eddie receives. Consider how it might sound to honor one of surfing’s most heroic and widely respected kin without all the bullshit. And consider what it’d mean for surfers the world over to play a role. It’s got a nice ring to it. And, hell, if it doesn’t work, at least we tried.
So Clyde, and the Aikaus, if you’re reading, why not put the ball in our court? Give us an opportunity, as surfers seeking pay homage to a fallen hero and fans of the contest, to show you what we’re made of. Let’s throw this thing on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe (no preferences here), and see if surfers won’t collectively pony up the cash to support an event free from corporatism, politics, and the like. Let the bay call the day, and let’s keep it that way.