The future of ‘The Eddie’: Aikau family pleads with city, state officials to allow it to continue

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Why are Quiksilver and the family of legendary waterman Eddie Aikau parting ways?

It’s a question many have been asking after KHON2 first reported Saturday that talks broke down after months of negotiation between the two, as well as the World Surf League, leaving the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau in limbo.

At a news conference Monday morning, family spokesman Clyde Aikau and attorney Seth Reiss made pleas to the city to help them keep “The Eddie” alive in 2016-17.

It all has to do with the permit needed to hold the event. In a press statement released before the Aikau family news conference, Quiksilver said it is offering to give the permit to the family, but the city says it’s not that simple.

At the news conference also attended by family supporters — including professional surfers who have competed in the big-wave invitational — Clyde Aikau spoke passionately on behalf of the family.

“Today is to make a plea to our honorable city council, our honorable mayor, and any other senator, representative, that can kokua this family,” he said. “We want to continue to honor Eddie and his Eddie Aikau big-wave surfing event that we’ve had for 31 years. This year is 32 years. We have reached millions all over the world. We want the privilege to continue to carry on his heritage, what Uncle Eddie is all about. To inspire the next generation is what Uncle Eddie and this family is all about, and to always, always, you put somebody else before yourself is what Uncle Eddie’s legacy is all about.

“We don’t want to talk about corporate sponsors. We don’t want to talk about issues today. We want to plead, plead with our politicians to provide this permit that will allow this family to continue to have Eddie’s big wave event at Waimea Bay and to continue his legacy of inspiring the next generation.”

In the company’s statement, Quiksilver said it “had every intent of continuing to run the event it created 31 years ago in partnership with the Aikau family, but Quiksilver’s multiple offers of substantially increased monetary support for future events were declined by agents of the Aikau family over months of negotiations.”

“As a gesture of our respect and support we are happy to give our permit to run the event in 2016-2017 to the Aikau family, should the City of Honolulu allow it, and stand by to run the event with the family if they so choose. It is our most heartfelt wish to see the tradition of The Eddie carried on without interruption,” Quiksilver CEO Pierre Agnes said in the statement.

The Aikau family said it’s not about money, but told KHON2 that among the major reasons was that they were not willing to compromise on proposed changes to the condition requirements needed to hold the event, considered one of the most prestigious in the world.

Reiss said that the big-wave invitational, in future, should always bear Eddie Aikau’s name. “The family’s primary concern is that the event would lose connection with Eddie Aikau and what he represented… It was the non-monetary issues that were difficult for the parties,” he said. “The parties tried to work it through and they haven’t been able to.”

Quiksilver spokesman Glen Moncata denies any push to change contest conditions, pointing out that the company lost $350,000 when The Eddie was called off at the last minute last year.

“Even all the pressure that we’ve had from surfers who were in the contest, the media and stuff, we’ve always kept true to what the standards were going to be,” he told KHON2, adding that during the contest’s inception, “we said, you know, if we’re going to make this a real Eddie, it’s got to be solid 20-foot Hawaiian surf at Waimea Bay — and we have kept that statement the whole time. We’ve never, never swayed from that.”

Both parties agree there are several reasons behind the breakdown in communication.

The Aikau family tells us that although the event has only run nine times because of the condition requirements, it is those requirements and the family involvement with the event that makes this so personal. They say it was changes like this that the family was not willing to compromise on.

The issue now for the family is getting their own permit to host the event. We reached out to the city to ask what happens next and they say that although Quiksilver has offered to give up their permit, permit transfers are prohibited.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, in part, in the following statement Monday that:

Surf tournament park permits are awarded through a competitive application process. Quiksilver’s application was approved to hold a surf tournament event named ‘In Memory of Eddie Aikau’ during the 2016-2017 holding period, and permit transfers are prohibited. (View permit application here: Page 1 and Page 2)

That said, with all the parties willing to come together, city attorneys are working to find a way to move forward so the Eddie can Go this year. One potential solution we are working on is to have Quiksilver ‘hire’ an Aikau Foundation management team to implement the permit and run the contest on behalf of Quiksilver.

“Eddie Aikau was known as a person who could settle disputes between diverse parties. In his honor, we are committed to bringing everyone together to ho‘oponopono and work towards finding a solution for this world class contest that unites all of Hawaii.”

Rules specifically state: “Permittee shall not transfer, assign, or sell any or all rights granted by the permit or grant the use of any or all of the permit period to a third party or relinquish possession or use of the whole or any parts of the part granted to permittee under the permit. Any transfer, assignment, sale, grant or relinquishment of the permit shall automatically null and void the permit.”

Local surfers like professional Makua Rothman are hopeful for a resolution. “I really just pray and I plead as well to the city to help us as the next generation of Hawaiian ambassadors to help honor that inspiration for the next generation,” Rothman said.

“The public and surfers alike would be disappointed if there was a change in the character of the event,” Reiss said.

Beginning in 1985, the big-wave invitational takes place at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, where Aikau served as its first lifeguard. Opting only to run when conditions reach the 20-foot-plus range (Hawaiian scale being 40 to 50-foot faces), “The Eddie” has only run nine times in its 30-year history, the last being in February 2016.


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Quiksilver’s statement has been posted in its entirety below:

As reported by the Aikau family, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, a World Surf League (WSL) Specialty-sanctioned big wave event at Waimea Bay, will no longer exist in its traditional capacity. Quiksilver had every intent of continuing to run the event it created 31 years ago in partnership with the Aikau family, but Quiksilver’s multiple offers of substantially increased monetary support for future events were declined by agents of the Aikau family over months of negotiations.

‘Quiksilver and the Aikau family have partnered on this special event since its inception in 1985,’ said Garry Wall, Quiksilver Global Brand Leader. ‘It has honored surfing heroes such as Denton Miyamura, Clyde Aikau, Keone Downing, Noah Johnson, Ross Clarke-Jones, Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons, Greg Long and John John Florence—not only world-class watermen, but human beings who embody the spirit of Eddie himself. It was Quiksilver’s sincere hope to continue growing its investment in The Eddie and in the community, and Quiksilver was prepared to commit to a long-term sponsorship of the event. But ultimately, an agreement could not be reached with the new representatives managing the event for the Aikaus.’

Beginning in 1985, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau event was an invite-only big-wave event that took place at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, where the late Eddie Aikau served as the North Shore’s first lifeguard. Opting only to run when conditions reach the 20-foot-plus range (Hawaiian scale – 40-50 ft faces), The Eddie has only run nine times in its 30-year history. As a WSL Speciality-sanctioned big wave event, The Eddie drew a prestigious cross-section of the world’s finest watermen, including competitors from the elite WSL Championship Tour (CT).

‘The WSL has tremendous respect for the Aikau family, the legacy of Eddie himself, and the importance of the event in surf and Hawaiian culture,’ said Paul Speaker, WSL CEO. ‘Quiksilver has been a phenomenal supporter of the event, the Aikau family, and Eddie’s legacy and it is disappointing that this partnership may be coming to an end. That said, the WSL wishes the Aikau family nothing but future success and our support as it potentially begins the next chapter on this event.’

Out of its deep respect for Hawaiian heritage and the memory of Eddie, Quiksilver is offering to give the Aikau family its permit to run the event for the 2016-2017 season. ‘As a company, we have always supported the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people, of The Eddie, and of the Aikau family,’ said Pierre Agnes, Chief Executive Officer of Quiksilver. ‘As a gesture of our respect and support we are happy to give our permit to run the event in 2016-2017 to the Aikau family, should the City of Honolulu allow it, and stand by to run the event with the family if they so choose. It is our most heartfelt wish to see the tradition of The Eddie carried on without interruption.’

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