WAIMEA BAY, Hawaii (KHON2) — Forty surfers, each taking their shot at immortality, conquering the massive surf at Waimea bay all in honor of Eddie Aikau.

“Conditions are epic. Wind conditions are exceptionally beautiful. Direction is wonderful, and size is all there. Eddie would be smiling and be very happy and proud,” said Clyde Aikau.

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

In between the incredible elevator drops, wipeouts, hero-style rescues and female surfers making their long-awaited debut in the contest, were the crowds. An estimated 40,000 braved the heat and traffic to witness The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in person.

“Been out here all night, bro. We’re excited for Eddie and ready to rumble,” said Kailua resident, Kai Morgan.

“Hit the road, like, around 4:30 trying to beat the traffic, and it’s just packed up all the way down,” said Kailua resident, James Anschutz.

Parking was almost non existent; many were charging a premium for a spot.

By sunrise, the sidewalks were packed. Spectators climbed cliffs, fences and trees for a birds eye view. On the beach, crowds crammed together. Everyone eager to catch the action.

“It’s been the best experience. Woke up so early almost pulled an all nighter and here we are,” said Honolulu resident, Alexis Ortiz.

Despite traffic and parking headaches, those who made it through the mayhem got quite a show.

“It is honestly just so surreal to see these types of waves out here. I have no words to describe it,” added Ortiz.

Sets rolled in like moving, raging white foaming mountains, flipping, tossing, pounding surfers like ragdolls. Luckily no one was seriously hurt, but there were a few close calls in the competition and on the beach.

“All of a sudden, the wall of water just came over us. I lost my phone. I lost my slippers. I lost everything just got taken,” said spectator, Adam Langser.

But, even that scare could not ruin the day.

“It’s pretty awesome today. It’s worth it; it’s worth every bit of it,” added Langser.

“This is special to me. I look up to John John and Eddie Aikau. They’re, like, my heroes,” said visitor from California, Shay McGinnis.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

With that, the 2023 Eddie is in the books. Waves are still pumping here in Waimea. The crowds are starting to slowly disperse. But, the energy, the buzz, the mania of this year’s event is still in the air, just like the salty ocean mist.