Everything you need to know about the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational

EDDIE AIKAU BIG WAVE INVITATIONAL FILE


Editor’s note: For the second time this month, surfers have been given the “green alert” to be on standby for the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational. Click here for an updated breakdown of traffic, parking, and contest information.

For the first time in six years, the Eddie was a go.

Organizers of the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational confirmed Monday morning that the event would be held Wednesday.

Early Wednesday morning, however, the contest was called off after the highly anticipated swell failed to materialize. The following story outlines plans that were put in place prior to its cancellation.


“It has taken us six years to pull the trigger, but this is the first swell we have seen that is truly lining up as an Eddie swell,” said event director Glen Moncata.

The contest is considered by many as the world’s most prestigious surf event, and is held at Waimea Bay, as long as surf is 30-40 feet.

Confidence is high that conditions will be ideal for the majority of the day — along with favorable light winds in the morning, turning into light trades by afternoon — and competition could get underway as early as 8 a.m. and finish as late as 4:30 p.m. Organizers are willing to condense the competition format to maximize the window, if necessary.

Moncata and the organizing team continue to confer with event patriarch George Downing, who has made the call on every event since its inception.

“We don’t really know until roughly between 10 and 12 tonight, and in the morning, as my father would say, ‘The bay will call the day,'” said Keone Downing, who won the contest in 1990.

This will be the 9th “Eddie” in 31 years.

“This is by far the biggest event, if you could say the Super Bowl of surfing. It’s the most prestigious event of surfing on the planet,” said participant Mark Healey.

“I just hope I’m going to get a parking spot, so I can surf,” said participant Jamie Mitchell.

With anticipation building, organizers are expecting more than 20,000 spectators, something the North Shore isn’t designed for. It’s already prompting Foodland to open at 3 a.m. that day, three hours earlier than usual.

Despite the excitement, the city says it will continue to enforce a ban on overnight camping at the beach parks. “It just creates a lot of other problems, unintended consequences we don’t want,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

People will be allowed to enter the bay starting at 5 a.m. The city says no food will be sold at the event, so bring enough food and drinks for a 12-hour day. Just leave the alcohol at home.

“You can have umbrellas and anything without four sides, a pop-up is fine,” Caldwell said. “Follow the basic park rules. We want people to have a blast. Come for the day, bring your ohana.”


Traffic and parking

Contest officials say parking is going to be very tricky on Wednesday. The Waimea Bay Beach Park parking lot will be closed to the public. There are other parking options, but they’re limited.

For those braving the drive to Haleiwa to watch the contest in person, here’s a list of places to park and charges, if any:

Waimea Valley:

  • $10 for the parking lot
  • $20 for outside parking around the park

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church:

  • Price yet to be determined

Laniakea Beach and Sunset Beach Park:

  • No charge, first-come, first-served

Street parking:

  • No charge, but police will be enforcing parking laws

Contest spokeswoman Jodi Wilmott says they’re working with the city and police to keep traffic under control.

Free shuttles provided by the contest organizers will be available from Kaiaka Bay Beach Park to Waimea Bay Beach Park from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, with heavy traffic congestion expected, these shuttles will also likely experience long delays.

“It requires a lot of patience. This one lane of Kamehameha Highway in each direction pretty much puts a stop to traffic by early morning,” Wilmott said.

Trespassing on residential property will not be tolerated, and the Honolulu Police Department says 12 special-duty officers paid for by Quiksilver will be out, patrolling the area on foot, bicycle, all-terrain vehicles, and regular police vehicles, enforcing all laws in an effort to maintain traffic flow.

Barriers will be in place and illegally parked cars will be towed to the old Meadow Gold Dairy site near Laniakea Beach, and normal towing fees will apply.

TheBus adds North Shore service

TheBus officials say they plan to run extra service to the North Shore to accommodate anyone planning to watch in person. View the full schedule changes here.

Route 52 (Honolulu-Mililani-Haleiwa) and Route 55 (Honolulu-Kaneohe-Haleiwa) will accommodate increased early morning ridership with four additional departure times from Ala Moana Center and Alapai Transit Center.

“They’re early-morning buses. That’s the bus you should be on. You don’t have to change buses in Haleiwa,” said Department of Transportation Services director Mike Formby. “Remember, the buses operate in the same traffic congestion as everybody that drives, so try to go early.”

Road work and trash pickup

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced repaving work along Kaukonahua Road will be suspended Wednesday at no cost to the city.

“Opening up a second route, while it doesn’t get you directly to Kamehameha (Highway) driving in, it’s an alternative route and it allows people who are coming out a second way out, and it allows our emergency responders, should they need to use a second route, to have access to that road,” he said.

On the state’s side, only one project is scheduled in the area that day, on Farrington Highway between Kaukonahua Road and Dillingham Airfield. The state says work should not impact Kamehameha Highway or surf tournament traffic. It is also on the shoulder and does not require lane closures.

Regular trash pickup and bulky item pickup will be suspended along Kamehameha and Joseph P. Leong highways. “We’re still asking people to put out their bins because ENV, the Opala gang, will be out on Thursday starting to pick up, and they hope to catch up by Saturday,” Caldwell said.


Online and social media coverage

The contest can be seen on Oceanic Time Warner Cable channels 250 and 1250HD, and online at www.quiksilver.com and www.worldsurfleague.com.


Competitors and heats

Draws have been made for the first two rounds of Wednesday’s four heats:

Round 1 Round 2
Heat 1:

  • Shane Dorian (HAW)
  • Kohl Christensen (HAW)
  • Greg Long (CA)
  • Ramon Navarro (CHI)
  • Sunny Garcia (HAW)
  • Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
  • Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
Heat 1:

  • Shane Dorian (HAW)
  • Kohl Christensen (HAW)
  • Greg Long (USA)
  • Reef McIntosh (HAW)
  • Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
  • Aaron Gold (HAW)
  • Tom Carroll (AUS)
Heat 2:

  • Kelly Slater (FL)
  • David Wassell (HAW)
  • Grant Baker (ZAF)
  • Reef McIntosh (HAW)
  • Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
  • Aaron Gold (HAW)
  • Tom Carroll (AUS)
Heat 2:

  • Kelly Slater (USA)
  • David Wassell (HAW)
  • Grant Baker (ZAF)
  • Ramon Navarro (CHL)
  • Sunny Garcia (HAW)
  • Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
  • Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
Heat 3:

  • John John Florence (HAW)
  • Mark Healey (HAW)
  • Clyde Aikau (HAW)
  • Nathan Fletcher (CA)
  • Noah Johnson (HAW)
  • Peter Mel (CA)
  • Takayuki Wakita (JPN)
Heat 3:

  • John John Florence (HAW)
  • Mark Healey (HAW)
  • Clyde Aikau (HAW)
  • Albee Layer (HAW)
  • Kala Alexander (HAW)
  • Garrett McNamara (HAW)
  • Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 4:

  • Bruce Irons (HAW)
  • Makua Rothman (HAW)
  • Ian Walsh (HAW)
  • Albee Layer (HAW)
  • Kala Alexander (HAW)
  • Garrett McNamara (HAW)
  • Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 4:

  • Bruce Irons (HAW)
  • Makua Rothman (HAW)
  • Ian Walsh (HAW)
  • Nathan Fletcher (USA)
  • Noah Johnson (HAW)
  • Peter Mel (USA)
  • Takayuki Wakita (JPN)

Alternates: Mason Ho (HAW), Danilo Couto (BRA), Mark Mathews (AUS), Koa Rothman (HAW), Ben Wilkinson (AUS), Jamie Sterling (AUS), Billy Kemper (HAW), Shawn Dollar (USA), Carlos Burle (BRA), Kealii Mamala (HAW), Gabriel Villaran (USA), Michael Ho (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Kahea Hart (HAW), Nathan Florence (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Kalani Chapman (HAW), Ryan Hipwood (AUS), Danny Fuller (HAW), Nic Lamb (USA), Anthony Tashnick (HAW), Rusty Long (HAW), Derek Dunfee (USA), Brock Little (USA).


Safety protocol on land and in the water

The Hawaiian Water Patrol, a private company, has been contracted by the contest organizers to provide water safety for competitors. Meanwhile, the Emergency Services Division will provide an ALS (advanced life support) ambulance that will be on standby at Waimea Beach Park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Division of Ocean Safety’s primary role during the contest is to keep people away from the dangerous ocean conditions that are expected. North Shore lifeguards will begin their shifts early on Wednesday at 7 a.m. and remain on duty until sundown. Lifeguards normally work from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Before Monday’s announcement, organizers issued a yellow alert.

The last time “the Eddie” went was in 2009, when California surfer Greg Long won the event that has always been held at Waimea Bay, where Eddie Aikau was its first official lifeguard.

Surfer Aaron Gold modeled his competitor shirt when KHON2 spoke with him in Haleiwa Sunday, but in the last four years of being invited to the Eddie, he’s never gotten to paddle out.

“For us, this is something,” he said. “Everybody waits for in Hawaii and around the world. It’s probably the most prestigious event there is, and it doesn’t run all the time, and that’s what makes it special.”

Makua Rothman lives just down the road in Waialua and says for professional surfers and Hawaii residents, there’s nothing quite like the Eddie.

“This event is one of the biggest events, if not the biggest event in surfing,” he said, “and for it to be in Hawaii, for it to be on the North Shore with all the local businesses, I mean no other place in surfing can you fit 80,000 people lining the bay for miles.”

The Eddie would also be a boom for North Shore businesses. Amber Dubois, who works Surf and Sea in Haleiwa, says it could be their busiest day of the year.

“For a surf store, it’s tremendous,” she said. “We get a lot of people coming in buying equipment gear and surf apparel.”

The last major swell we had this year saw waves topping the 40-foot face requirement, leaving many wondering why the Eddie didn’t go.

The problem was it didn’t peak until the afternoon, so the window for the contest was too small.

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