(Huntington Beach, CA) December 13, 2004 —(NYSE: ZQK), Less than two weeks into the three-month holding period for the 20th Anniversary Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, Contest Director George Downing has placed competitors and officials on stand-by for a Wednesday morning start, pending the arrival of a gigantic swell to the North Shore of Oahu. The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational takes place on a single day when waves at Waimea Bay, Oahu, exceed 20 feet. The long-range forecast for Wednesday, December 15, speaks of wave face heights that could exceed 35 feet. Due to the stringent wave height requirement for this contest, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau has only taken place a total of six times in the past 19 years.
“What we are looking at right now is a long-range projection, said Downing. “It looks like a substantial storm from what I can see on the maps, but some of these long-range projections have not paid off in the past. If it goes the way it looks like it will, the swell should not be showing until late Tues afternoon, then it will be up to 20 feet or more by midnight and hold throughout the day on Wednesday.
“Naturally, we are ready to go. We’re loading the truck up already.
Hand-in-hand with the standing question of whether waves will be high enough is the other extreme of whether they will be too big for the Bay to hold. Higher than 40 feet and Waimea Bay is subject to giant close-outs that leave no room for surfing.
“The question is, what is this low pressure really going to produce? said Downing. “If it starts getting 40-50 feet vertically from trough to crest, like we saw in 1998, then it could be too big. All we can do is just alert everybody to move forward. The only time I can really make the call is Tuesday evening, around 10 or 11pm, as it takes about 10 hours for what I’m seeing on the maps then to hit the shore at Waimea. It’s not an easy one to call.
With a coveted US$50,000 purse to the winner — one of the sport’s richest cash prizes — past victors are Kelly Slater, Clyde Aikau (Eddie’s youngest brother), Keone Downing, Noah Johnson, Denton Miyamura and Ross Clarke-Jones. Invitees will travel from all around the world to be a part of one of the most electrifying events in surfing. ASP 2004 World Champion Andy Irons is also among the exclusive list of invitees this year.
Unlike most of today’s big-wave events, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational remains true to big-wave riding’s roots and does not allow the use of personal water craft, such as jet-skis, to tow riders into waves. Competitors must paddle themselves into mountains of water under their own arm power, then successfully make the drop and ride the massive waves. Each of the 24 surfers compete in two rounds, either in four heats of six surfers or three heats of eight surfers. Each heat lasts between 45-60 minutes, and surfers are allowed to ride three to four waves. At the end of the one-day competition, the surfers’ four best scores are used to calculate their total.
Surfing legend Eddie Aikau was the North Shore’s first full-time lifeguard and held a permanent guard chair at Waimea Bay. In 1978, during a re-enactment of the first Polynesian journey between Hawaii and Tahiti, the voyaging canoe Aikau was on capsized in heavy seas, leaving him and nine other crew-members stranded in the Molokai Channel. Tragically, Aikau paddled off in a heroic attempt to find assistance and was never seen again, despite the most intensive air-sea search in Hawaiian maritime history.
Where: Waimea Bay, North Shore Oahu, Hawai’i
When: Holding period from December 3, 2004, to February 28, 2005