(Honolulu, HI) December 4, 2004 — (NYSE: ZQK) The holding period for the 20th anniversary Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitiational at Waimea Bay, on the North Shore of Oahu, has officially begun and will run through February 28, 2005. This one day event, named after revered big wave surfer and Waimea Bay lifeguard Eddie Aikau, will be held when the surf reaches heights of 20 feet or more.
The official opening ceremony was conducted at Waimea Bay on Thursday evening and included a traditional Hawaiian blessing and emotional tribute to Aikau by his family, friends, and invited competitors to the event.
Each year, for one afternoon in early December, the ceremony for the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau brings everyday life on the North Shore to a stand-still. This thriving surfing community that is founded upon the waves and ocean-driven industry comes together once a year at Waimea Bay to remember Aikau, whose contribution to surfing, hawaiian culture, and saving lives stands as the yardstick by which all watermen are measured today.
Kahu (Hawaiian Priest) Billy Mitchell, from the Big Island of Hawaii, offered a timeless, heartfelt ceremony that included a traditional blessing in both Hawaiian and English. In front of more than 100 international representatives of the media, and over 400 onlookers, Kahu Mitchell reminded all in attendance that while the event continues to draw considerable international attention, it all comes back to respect – a value that coursed through Aikau’s life and that continues to be the lifeblood of his event today.
“It’s the way Eddie was raised. Not only to catch the biggest wave, but to love it and respect it and to just cherish that ability for maybe a moment. To ride it.”
Twenty-four of the world’s greatest big wave surfers will be on-call during the holding period, and will have a small window of 12 hours to report and register once the competition day is called. The event’s total prize amount is $88,000. The winner’s prize of $50,000 is the largest in competitive surfing. Invitees of the “Eddie include defending champion Kelly Slater — who won the last time the contest ran in 2002; plus Eddie’s brother Clyde Aikau, Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons and others.
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 earned the permanent guard chair at Waimea with a sterling reputation for saving innocent tourists. In 1978, the voyaging canoe he was on capsized, leaving him and nine other crew members stranded 12 miles east of Lanai. Tragically, Aikau swam off in a heroic attempt to find assistance and was never heard from again, despite the most intensive air-sea search in Hawaiian maritime history.