About two weeks ago the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational event at Waimea Bay was called to go. Only problem: the swell didn’t show up. Such is nature. But just to be sure, thousands of people flocked from all over the world only to wake up to rather small surf and no Eddie.
But today, that all changed. And Eddie went.
John John Florence
February 25th will go on to be one of the most emotional days of surfing ever, coinciding with the passing of another Hawaiian big wave legend Brock Little just a few days ago. Waves the night before were nothing major, but quickly turned up. A man even went missing while swimming and USCG and Hawaii Fire carried out a search party throughout the night. I showed up at the Bay at 5 p.m. on the night before the Eddie was set to run, I parked a few beaches down and walked up to the cliffs where hundreds of people were camping out overnight to have the best seats in the house when first light hit. When the daytime hit, I was already awake from the sound of huge shore break slamming the sand. We were all confident it was gonna run as soon as it was bright enough to see anything. For the next few hours, some of the biggest Waimea most people had ever seen smashed the beach, while the world’s best big wave surfers paddled for the glory and for their lives. Pretty much every set consisted of at least one solid 35- foot closeout that would send the Skis running to the beach. Some brutal wipeouts happened, Grant “Twiggy” Baker had a wipeout that strongly resembled Tom Dosland’s wipeout at Jaws. Jamie and Shane Dorian got a wicked one together also. Lot of action, lots of history.
And it was eventually won by the prince himself John John Florence. But the entire day was an emotional drain of glory and memories for some of surfing’s greats. If you’re gonna compete, and you’re gonna do it right, The Eddie went off just how it was supposed to today. —Dexter