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The “Eddie” 101

The Eddie…. For surfers, the mere sound of those two words alone incites an unexplainable feeling of reverence, respect, and awe. The holy grail of Big-Wave surfing competitions, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is an event that goes far beyond determining which surfer rides the mammoth waves of Waimea Bay better than the rest. Year after year, whether the call is ever made to run it or not, the holding period for the Eddie serves as a time to reflect on the roots of our great sport, as well as revisit the legend that is Eddie Aikau.


Photo Credit: Hornbaker

But what about our friends who are on the outskirts of surfing and unfamiliar with why it is the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is so revered? How do we adequately explain to those unfamiliar with the Eddie just why it is that even the slightest chance of the call being made to go will send a buzz throughout an island of a million within minutes? How do we help them to really understand the sacred nature of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau? Well, we can start with the help of our friends over at Quiksilver, who along with the Aikau family, George Downing and Da Hui legend Eddie Rothman established the highly revered and sacred event.
The “Eddie “101-

Eddie Aikau was not the first, nor the greatest surfer to ride Waimea Bay.

Waimea Bay is not the biggest wave in the world.

Yet over the years, these two names have grown synonymous with big-wave riding, showing that meaning isn’t found in a title, but by living with passion.

These two names – Waimea Bay and Eddie Aikau, have risen over the decades because they represent those essential qualities of big wave riding that are also essential to life: dedication, respect, and commitment to the point of putting your life on the line.


Photo Credit: Joli

They are timeless: Waimea’s wave is today just as it was for the first-known riders 60 years ago, and just as it will be to those 100 years from now. Eddie’s story of a humble Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard who became an icon for living true to himself and to his ancestry, will stand the test of time in the same way.

In life, meeting and surviving our greatest challenges provides us with our most exquisite moments. That resulting “high” is precisely the lure of big waves to big-wave riders. Many of us can’t even imagine what it must be like to stand on the edge of a wave so big, hence our amazement with those who do. Waimea provides the perfect setting for us to stand close and witness the enormity.

But while most of us will never personally realize riding Waimea, we can appreciate what it takes because we know we will all face our own “Waimea” in life. For us, the thrill comes in that brief moment as we watch a surfer dangle perilously in the lip, on the knife-edge of a thrilling takeoff or a horrific wipeout; that gladiator-like fascination in each of us that forces us to contemplate the fine line between success and failure; life and death. It is precisely at that point that the experience of life is most acute and that we all share common ground: the surfer and the spectator; the maoli (native) and the malihini (visitor); the rescuer and the rescued.

That is big wave riding.

That is Waimea Bay.

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Posted by Shaun on Friday, January 23rd, 2009 in Surfing.


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One Response to “The “Eddie” 101”

  • Js112 Says:

    Quik should step up the exposure like the Mavs contest is doing. Adding a bigger prize purse and bringing more eyeballs to the contest would be cool.

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