“The Eddie” can go this year.
In a joint press release issued Monday, Quiksilver and the Aikau family say they have amicably resolved their differences, ensuring that the 2016-2017 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational holding period begins Dec. 1.
Last season’s epic Eddie suddenly looked like its last when, one month ago, the family announced a breakdown in talks with Quiksilver and the World Surf League, which meant although Quiksilver has the city permit for this year, it couldn’t go — not without an agreement with the family.
Officials say Quiksilver and the Aikau family worked constructively together for the past several weeks to avoid interrupting the event’s 31-year track record. The World Surf League will produce the event and manage the broadcast and media.
“We are proud to see the tradition of The Eddie continue without interruption, a testament to our respect for Eddie Aikau, the Aikau family, the Hawaiian people, and the community at large. We are very grateful for the efforts and support of the Aikau family and the World Surf League under the leadership of Paul Speaker who have all worked very hard with our team over the past few weeks to come up with a solution,” said Pierre Agnes, Quiksilver’s CEO. “Consistent with Quiksilver and the Aikau family’s wishes, we are pleased to confirm that the same stringent condition requirements we instituted when we inaugurated The Eddie 31 years ago will continue this year. We have every confidence that WSL’s greater involvement in the event this year will only improve The Eddie’s reputation as one of the world’s premier surfing contests.”
Beginning in 1985, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational has been an invite-only big-wave event that takes 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- to 50-foot faces), The Eddie has only run nine times in its history.
Aikau’s surviving brothers and sister, Solomon, Clyde and Myra, say they’re relieved everyone was able to come together to maintain the integrity and Hawaiian spirit of the competition.
“This is a really special day for all of us, the Aikau family, to really be smiling a lot… We’re really proud to announce that yes, we’re going to have an Eddie big wave event this year,” said Clyde Aikau. “I think what’s real important is that the sponsors finally realized that what is important to this family is larger than all the money you could offer the family, and larger than almost anything, trying to preserve what Eddie Aikau is all about, his legacy, saving lives, helping people is what this family is all about.”
The family thanked Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, and state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria for their support in finding a solution.
An opening ceremony will commence at Waimea Bay on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. with the contest holding period extending to Feb. 28, 2017. A significant number of the world’s greatest big-wave surfers will gather to show their respect for one of their heroes.
New this year, with women’s surfing reaching new heights, the Aikaus announced their decision to include Kauai big wave surfer Keala Kennelly on this year’s alternate list, the first female invited in the history of The Eddie.
“I still ride big waves and I’m right in the mix on who’s doing the great riding, big-wave riding, and the young lady has done tremendous riding at the big wave spots all over the world,” said Clyde Aikau. “She’s very outstanding, a real ‘Eddie would go’ attitude.”
The invitation list this year is as follows (listed first name alphabetical order):
John John Florence
The alternate invitation list is used to replace injured or unavailable surfers from the invitation list. Alternate invitations will be offered in the order set out below:
Event past winners:
1985/1986 : Denton Miyamura (Haw)
1986/1987 : Clyde Aikau (Haw)
1989/1990 : Keone Downing (Haw)
1998/1999 : Noah Johnson (Haw)
2000/2001 : Ross Clarke-Jones (Aus)
2004/2005 : Bruce Irons (Haw)
2001/2002 : Kelly Slater (USA)
2009/2010 : Greg Long (USA)
2015/2016 : John John Florence