Waimea Bay, HAWAII (December 5, 2008) — The official Opening Ceremonies for the 24th annual The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau took place at Waimea Bay, on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii late yesterday. A perfect 10- to 15-foot (Hawaiian scale) swell pulsed through Waimea Bay throughout the ceremony and offered competitors an opportunity to warm up at the big-wave venue that breaks but a handful of times each winter.
The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, the most prestigious big-wave event in the world, requires one full day of waves in the 20-foot-plus (Hawaiian scale) range with near-perfect weather conditions in order to run. Because of this strict criterion, it has only been held a total of seven times, the last time being in December of 2004 when it was won by Hawaii’s Bruce Irons. The event's holding period goes until February 28, 2009.
Joining the North Shore community, the 28 Invitees and 24 Alternates including past champions Kelly Slater (USA), Bruce Irons (Hawaii), Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia), and Eddie Aikau’s younger brother Clyde (Hawaii) were on hand for the special event. Invitees to the event come from as far away as Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Spain and Australia.
“Even though this event doesn’t happen every year, this special gathering does and allows all of us to come together and honor Aikau,” said Slater.
Brazilian Carlos Burle summed up the spirit of the event best:
“This place and the event is so unique, there’s nothing like it in the world,” said Burle. “With the energy of Eddie Aikau, it’s not only about charging the big waves, it is about family and giving back to the community. It is the purest feeling of big wave surfing.
“To be invited is something I never thought possible when I was a kid back in Brazil. It is amazing to be able to share this experience with some of the best big wave riders in the world; I consider them as part of my family.”
The turnout for last night's Opening Ceremonies was impressive with a record number of surfers, international media, spectators and tourists. It culminated with a paddle-out into the Waimea lineup under the sunset as the invitees made their annual dedication to Aikau.
So far this Hawaiian winter has boasted an extraordinarily high number of large swells and optimism is running high that the event will run again.
In the realm of big-wave riding, the name Eddie Aikau commands as much respect as Waimea Bay itself. Aikau was the North Shore of Oahu’s first lifeguard, watching over the Bay when he wasn’t charging the biggest waves of the winter. Tragically, he lost his life in 1978, at the age of 33, during a re-creation of the Polynesian voyage between Hawaii and Tahiti. In huge seas, the voyaging canoe Hokule’a was capsized. Eddie paddled off in an attempt to reach help for his fellow crewmen. He was never seen again but his spirit and legacy live on.
The complete list of Invitees and Alternates for this year’s event are available online at Quiksilver.com/eddie. The website also includes photos and video from previous year’s events, Invitee profiles, swell updates and special-edition event merchandise. Visitors can sign up to receive text updates for the “Official Contest Call” and watch online when the Bay calls the day.
“Quiksilver is committed to providing tools for uncovering, expressing and expanding your personal style. Our aim is to foster the sense of individual expression and excitement – the stoke that is the essence of boardriding*. We’re also here to spread the word because the only thing better than finding stoke is sharing it.
* Boardriding is about timing and style. It’s youthful, active, casual, and free flowing. There is no wrong way to ride a board. The goal is simply to learn, progress, improve, and give it your own interpretation.”