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Well, the Eddie is done and dusted. The most prestigious event in big wave surfing has, once again, closed its cover. It was only the tenth time it’s run since its inception. Only ten times because the Bay doesn’t often call the day, but on Sunday, the Bay called the day, and it called it with a megaphone.

Kelly Slater pulled out of the event, giving his spot to Chris Owens, a Waimea standout who’d never competed in the Eddie before. Spectators went to the ends of the Earth to get a good spot to watch from. They camped out, they woke up before dawn, they slept on the beach. And they were well rewarded for their efforts, because the Eddie doesn’t run often.

“We’re from the East Coast and knew this was a once in a lifetime thing, so we had to do it,” said Flora Hu, who watched the event in person. “We started our preparations Saturday morning — we had an early dinner and took a nap. We got on the road at 12:30 a.m. and got to Waimea at 2 and just missed the parking for Waimea Valley. They said they weren’t going to open parking until 4 a.m. but they were already turning people away when we got there. We drove down to Pūpūkea and walked down to Waimea. When we got here there were already so many people sleeping on the beach. Around 4:30 a.m., when the high tide came in, a wave came all the way up on the beach and everyone was dead asleep and got soaking wet and had to disperse.”

North Shore lifeguard Luke Shepardson won the event — fitting, as the contest’s namesake was a Waimea lifeguard, too — and the waves, even by Eddie standards, were enormous. But one set in particular rolled through as the event was waning. Nathan Florence, who was forced to sit out of the contest due to a Jaws-related busted back, stood on shore with everyone else. And he, just like everyone else, was in awe of just how big the biggest set of the day was. Thankfully for all those who weren’t able to be there in person, he pulled out his phone and filmed a few waves.


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