The holding period for the 21st anniversary event on O‘ahu’s famous North Shore began December 2, 2005, but ends today, February 28, 2006.
Honoring revered big wave surfer and lifeguard Eddie Aikau, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational can only be held when the surf measures at least 20 feet high for a full day of competition. The event came close to running on two occasions this winter. On those days, wave heights sporadically peaked at 20 feet but were not consistently in the 20-foot-plus category to allow for an eight-hour day of competition.
The unpredictable nature of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, as well as the respect paid to Aikau’s memory, makes it one of the most exciting and anticipated events in professional surfing. With a highly celebrated and hugely attended opening ceremony each year, Aikau is honored and the event is recognized globally, regardless of whether the ocean delivers huge waves.
“Although December actually set a record high for the number of days of surf averaging 12 feet, it never got to the point where we could actually run the event. It was the same for January.” Said George Downing, Quiksilver’s Contest Director. “This winter, we just didn’t get the drive of the wind fetch areas that have the potential of giving us what we needed for the Eddie to run.”
The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational has now been contested just seven times in 21 years, with the most recent being Bruce Irons’ 2004-05 win. Over the years, the elusive nature of giant swells has only added to the anticipation of this event.
“It is a great honor for Quiksilver to align the world’s greatest surfers in memory of one of the surfing world’s legends,” said Bob McKnight, CEO of Quiksilver. “Quiksilver’s roots are deep in the islands of Hawai‘i and Eddie Aikau is an authentic inspiration that connects us with board riders across the globe.”
Unlike most of today’s big-wave events, The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational remains true to big-wave riding’s roots and does not allow the use of personal watercraft, such as jet-skis, to tow riders into waves. Competitors must paddle themselves into mountains of water under the power of their own arms, then successfully make the drop and ride the massive waves.