Twenty-eight years along in the life of The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational, we are reminded that what helps to make The Eddie great are often the times it doesn't run. For all these years Contest Director George Downing has maintained a strict 20-foot minimum wave requirement that has ensured the event only takes place on the most memorable of days at Waimea Bay.
The Eddie was last held in December of 2009, won by Greg Long. It nearly ran again on January 20, 2011. The tower was built and the stage was set. But while a sea of spectators filled in through the night, a consistent 20-foot-plus swell did not. As difficult as it was to call a "No Go" that morning, it was clearly the right call, keeping the prestige and integrity of the event intact.
In the years between running, big wave equipment, design and technology continue to advance. New young faces join the lineup while others change course. Boundaries are pushed and new frontiers are discovered, surfed, and documented. But through it all, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau has remained current and true to its course: To honor a legendary Hawaiian named Eddie Aikau at surfing's original giant wave arena, on rare days when the line between what is physically possible and impossible is blurred.
"Even though waves may get bigger in other parts of the world, the fact that Waimea is such an incredible venue for both the surfer and the spectator make it an impossible place to replicate," said Downing, who has witnessed every major day of surfing at Waimea.
"It's the natural home of big wave surfing. It's the original big wave event that paved the way for all others. It's the place that Eddie loved and where he worked and played. Even though big waves may be found elsewhere, they can never be Waimea. This is an event about integrity and honor."
The holding period for the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational will close next week Thursday, February 28. Current forecast models do not hint of any major swells through the remainder of this week, however organizers will continue to monitor any and all developments for Waimea Bay potential through the end of the month. One thing that is sure: The Eddie will not compromise. Better to wait.