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The Waiting Period of The Eddie Opens on Friday, December 8

The Eddie Opens on December 8

@theeddieaikau

 

This Friday, a few dozen of the world’s best big wave surfers will gather at Waimea Bay for the opening ceremony of the Eddie. Long considered the most prestigious big wave contest in existence, the Eddie is also paradoxically the longest running and the least frequently run, due to its mandatory threshold of consistent 20-foot swell all day long. The waiting period for the Eddie typically runs from December through February, and the first Friday of December has traditionally served as the setting for the opening ceremony.


The Eddie began in 1985, with a contest at Sunset Beach won by Denton Miyamura. Held in honor of legendary waterman and lifeguard Eddie Aikau, who saved thousands of swimmers during his career and sacrificed his life attempting to paddle to shore to get help when the Hokuleia capsized during a voyage, the Eddie moved to Waimea Bay (the site of most of Aikau’s storied rescues) in 1986, where his brother Clyde Aikau fittingly won what most people consider the first “real” Eddie. 

The Legendary Eddie Aikau

@theeddieaikau

 

Since then, the event has only run eight additional times over the course of nearly 40 years, a testament to the rarity of true 20-foot swells on the North Shore (20 feet Hawaiian, which equates to approximately 35-45 feet on the face). Keoni Downing won in 1990, Noah Johnson in 1999, Ross Clarke Jones in 2001, Kelly Slater in 2002, Bruce Irons in 2004, Greg Long in 2009, John John Florence in 2016, and Luke Shepardson in 2023. Shepardson’s win, in particular, was heralded as one of the greatest in the event’s history, both due to the monumental size and conditions that presented themselves and the fact that he was an unsponsored, “underground” charger who works as a lifeguard at Waimea Bay (in the tradition of Eddie Aikau). In fact, Shepardson was on duty the entire day during the Eddie that he won, only taking two one-hour breaks to surf his heats.

Eddie Winners in the past years

Photo: The Inertia

 

It is pretty rare for an Eddie-caliber swell to hit the North Shore without the event being called on. The January 2021 swell was an obvious Eddie swell, but due to political restructuring of the event (ownership had recently shifted from Quiksilver to the Aikau family) and ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the event wasn’t held. Likewise, the Thanksgiving swell that hit two weeks ago was widely considered to be in the ballpark to qualify for Eddie status, but the fact that it arrived before the start of the waiting period meant that the contest couldn’t run.


When the Eddie does run, it is one of the largest and most well-attended events on Oahu. Numerous businesses shut down for the day, people start staking out spots on the cliff and beach as early as the afternoon before, and traffic is at a standstill as upwards of 50,000 people descend on the sandy bay that sits at the intersection of Waimea Valley/River and the Pacific Ocean. 

Big wave swell at eddie competition

@theeddieaikau

 

The opening ceremony is not as well attended, but it is still a momentous occasion that marks the start of the waiting period for the most important big wave surf contest in history. And this year’s supercharged El Nino only increases the chances that the invitees who will gather at The Bay tomorrow will be competing sometime this season.


Congratulations to all of the invitees and alternates!


Invitees:

Aaron Gold
Ben Wilkinson 
Bianca Valenti
Billy Kemper
Eli Olson
Emily Erickson
Eric Haas
Ezekiel Lau
Felicity Palmateer
Francisco Porcella
Grant “Twiggy” Baker
Jack Robinson
Jake Maki
Jamie Mitchell
John John Florence
Kai Lenny
Keali’i Mamala
Keito Matsuoka
Kelly Slater
Koa Rothman
Kohl Christensen
Landon McNamara
Laura Enever
Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca
Luke Shapardson
Makani Adric
Makuakai Rothman
Mark Healy
Mason Ho
Matahi Drollet
Matt Bromley
Nathan Florence
Nic Lamb
Nic von Rupp
Paige Alms
Peter Mel
Ross Clarke-Jones
Seth Moniz
Torrey Meister
Tyler Larronde

 

Women’s Alternates:

Annie Star Reickert
Izzi Gomez
Moana Jones Wong
Raquel Heckert
Skylar Lickle
Tiare Lawrence
Men’s Alternates:
Aaron Abbey
Andrew Cotton
Barron Mamiya
Benjamin Sanchis
Cliff Kapono
Greg Long
Ha’a Aikau
Ian Walsh
Jamie O’Brien
Joey Aloha Cadiz
Kahea Hart
Koa Smith
Mike Pietsch
Mikey O’Shaugnessy
Othmane Choufani
Taio Shipman
Tom Lowe

 

Forever Legends:

Andy Irons
George Downing
Jay Moriarity
Mark Foo
Pat Curren
Ricky Grigg
Derek Ho
Greg Noll
Jose Angel
Marvin Foster
Peter Cole
Sion Milosky