The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Invitational hasn’t ran since 2009. In fact, the event has been completed just eight times since its inception in 1984. The 2014/15 season looked quite promising, but it never transpired because the waves never reached the standard during the holding period. The Eddie will run at Waimea Bay only when wave heights meet or exceed the Hawaiian standard of 20 feet. Will this season break the five-year dry spell? The Magic 8-Ball says, “Signs point to yes.”
The Eddie is perhaps the biggest honor in big-wave surfing, if not in the entire sport. To be invited would be an absolute privilege. So who exactly will be surfing if the big waves decide to show up to the party?
The 2015/2016 invitees:
Aaron Gold, Albee Layer, Bruce Irons, Clyde Aikau, Dave Wassel, Garrett McNamara, Grant Baker, Greg Long, Ian Walsh, Jamie Mitchell, Jamie O’Brien, Jeremy Flores, John John Florence, Kala Alexander, Kelly Slater, Kohl Christensen, Makua Rothman, Mark Healey, Nathan Fletcher, Noah Johnson, Peter Mel, Ramon Navarro, Reef McIntosh, Ross Clarke-Jones, Shane Dorian, Sunny Garcia and Takayuki Wakita
Mason Ho (Aikau Pick), Danilo Couto, Mark Matthews, Koa Rothman, Ben Wilkinson, Jamie Sterling, Billy Kemper, Shawn Dollar, Carlos Burle, Kealii Mamala, Gabriel Villaran, Michael Ho, Kai Lenny, Kahea Hart, Nathan Florence, Damien Hobgood, Kalani Chapman, Ryan Hipwood, Danny Fuller, Nic Lamb, Anthony Tashnick, Rusty Long, Derek Dunfee and Brock Little,
Event past winners:
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), 2004/2005 : Bruce Irons (Haw), 2001/2002 : Kelly Slater (USA) and 2009/2010 : Greg Long (USA)
Will the Eddie run this winter?
There’s a tremendous line of research that suggests the El Niño weather pattern can contribute significantly to increased activity in the North Pacific, which Waimea depends on almost exclusively.
“The warmer water temps in the mid-Pacific create a greater variance between the normal cold air sweeping down from the Arctic,” Surfline writes. “The result? More convection, atmospheric turbulence, more wind. The storms all become more intense due to the extra warm air (from the warm water), which acts as fuel mixing with the cold air to create more of a combustible nature in the storms.”
Nonetheless, we remain at the mercy of the often unpredictable character of Mother Nature. Still, she appears to make this year, more so than the years following the last contest, favorable for the Eddie to run. There are, however, some drawbacks. For one, there are no guarantees. Secondly, Hawaii is usually too stormy during El Niño years as the storm tracks drop down right on top of the Islands. Perhaps all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for big swell and favorable conditions.
Invitees will attend the official opening celebration held on Thursday, December 3rd at 3 p.m. at Waimea Bay.