The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is back on. The announcement was made Saturday by the Eddie Aikau Foundation.
The last contest took place in February 2016 and with large surf forecasted this winter, conditions look good for what surfers call one of the most prestigious events in the world.
The Eddie in Honor of Eddie Aikau has faced its fair share of challenges in recent years, but with the support of three new sponsors, surfers will get a shot at the coveted title.
It’s been three years since the Eddie Big Wave Invitational took place. Sponsorship problems threatened the fate of the iconic contest again this year, but thanks to support from Kamehameha Schools, OHA and Waimea Valley, The Eddie will go and surfers are ecstatic.
“I’m really looking forward to it. To get invited is one thing, to get to surf in (The Eddie) is another and hopefully I get to surf in it a second time. I’ll be stoked. I’m so excited for that,” said professional big wave surfer Aaron Gold.
Gold surfed in The Eddie in 2016. He said part of what makes the event so special is that is honors Aikau’s legacy.
“How you carry yourself in and out of the water, that’s important, and that’s what Eddie did. He just exemplified a Hawaiian 100 percent with aloha spirit in everything he did,” said Gold.
“You’re basically celebrating the life of Eddie Aikau, who’s a legendary waterman from Waimea Beach. He was a lifeguard there, saved hundreds of people, and lost his life to the ocean,” said professional surfer Kai Lenny.
Aikau died in March of 1978. He swam to try to get help for his fellow crew after the Hokulea capsized.
Lenny said that being invited to The Eddie has been a lifelong dream.
“As a kid, I used to be Eddie Aikau for famous people day at school, and I know a lot of other kids that are coming up that are doing the same,” said Lenny. “It’s pretty astonishing for me to here that The Eddie is back on, mainly because I had a dream as a kid to compete in the Big Wave Invitational in memory of Eddie Aikau, and I got really close to the opportunity a couple years ago when I was an alternate. I made it all the way up to second and I just felt like one more year I could’ve broken through and become an invitee. To get that news, to hear that I was actually an invitee, was shocking.”
The fact that The Eddie has only taken place eight times since it started in 1984 makes being a part of it even more important.
The opening ceremony for The Eddie is 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at Waimea Bay.
The holding period for the event runs Dec. 1, 2018 through Feb. 28, 2019. Whether the event runs is determined by the size of the waves.
“They want to see upwards of 40-foot faces on the waves before they say that’s a legitimate Waimea Bay, and that’s what the best of the best would be out there in anyway. That’s what Eddie loved, big Waimea and challenging yourself as a waterman,” said Gold.
The upcoming week could be an epic week on the ocean with back-to-back northwest swells and a large one coming on Monday to Tuesday that could be in the 15-foot to 22-foot range.
There are also multiple holding period for contests this week like the Vans World Cup as well as the Jaws Challenge at Peahi on Maui.