The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational was welcomed on the sands of Waimea Bay yesterday on Oahu’s gorgeous North Shore. The family of Eddie Aikau and the 28 invitees as well as the 28 alternates of this year’s event, joined hands to celebrate the life of one of Hawaii’s most respected big wave riders and heroes.
The official waiting period for the classic event begins this Saturday, December 1st and runs through February 28, 2013. The competition only lasts one full day that will require a minimum of 40 ft wave face heights. Although the competition is on it’s 28th year in existence, the actual event has only run a total of eight times, the last being December of 2009. Big wave expert, Greg Long (USA), won the last event in 2009 and brought an important message to the competitors who gathered at Waimea Bay yesterday for the ceremony.
“You win competitions and with that comes excitement, but in my eyes, this isn’t a competition. It’s a celebration of the legacy of Eddie Aikau and the waves we share out here. We are the luckiest people in the world to be able to do what we do and be a part of this family of big wave riders. Eddie encapsulated all of it to the highest level. He’s a hero, a legend, and he has touched the lives of myself and so many others. You can’t put words to that. This is the amazing celebration of Eddie’s life.” – Greg Long (USA)
Clyde Aikau 63, Eddie’s younger brother, still competes in the event and had the honor of welcoming the new, young invitees to the event like Alex Gray (USA), Ian Walsh (HAW), and John John Florence (HAW), the youngest surfer of the group at just 20 years old.
Aikau said he looked forward to the new generation of big wave riders taking the helm and attributed his longevity in big wave riding to the inspiration and motivation they provide.
“My message to all you older surfers out there is to get out there with the young guys,” said Clyde. “For me it is my son who keeps me going, keeps me pushing the boundaries, and the young guys I see alongside me in the lineup. I look forward to riding in the same heat as John John Florence,” he said, receiving cheers from the 1,000 people gathered for the ceremony. “Let’s rock and roll!”
Every year, two outstanding watermen are recognized for heroic rescues they make throughout those 12 months. This year was surfer Gavin Sutherland and ocean cinematographer Mike Prickett. You can view the entire list of invitees and alternates here.
About Eddie Aikau:
Just 32 years of age when he was lost at sea during an ill-fated voyage of Hawaii’s Hokule’a double-hull sailing canoe in 1978, Aikau was a young man at the height of a career equally dedicated to big-wave riding and lifeguarding at historic Waimea Bay. Filled with a pure passion to ride giant surf, take care of his fellow man, and uphold his Hawaiian culture and family values, Aikau became the benchmark by which all big wave riders are measured.