Elite surfers flock to Hawaii, wait to take on 20-foot waves
Bruce Irons surfs during the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December.
January 19th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Elite surfers flock to Hawaii, wait to take on 20-foot waves

A select group of the world's best surfers was gathering in Hawaii Wednesday in hopes waves on Oahu's North Shore would grow big enough for an elite tournament.

The Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is held only when wave heights tower over 20 feet between December 1 and February 28. It has been completed only seven times in its 26-year history, the last time being December 9, 2009.

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The biggest waves are expected around daybreak Thursday, event sponsors said.

"We might go, we might not, but we will always be ready for when the bay calls the day," contest organizer George Downing said. "We will do exactly what Eddie and big wave riders have always done through the years - watch the swell developments, be ready, and wake up to see what the day delivers."

Among those invited to surf the "Eddie" this year are Hawaii's Bruce Irons, who won the event in 2004, Floridian Kelly Slater, a 10-time world surfing champion who won the 2002 Eddie, and Californian Greg Long, the defending champion.

North Shore resident Mark Healy is an invitee.

"The Eddie is the most prestigious contest you can win in the surfing world, besides the world title," he told The Star Advertiser in Honolulu. "Once your name is on the list of past winners, it's set in stone and will live forever."

Australian surfer Tom Carroll, a two-time world champion who broke his leg practicing for the 2009 contest, left for Hawaii on Wednesday. "I'm very excited about the event, but I have a fear I have never felt before," he told the Manly Daily.

The event honors Aikau, the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the North Shore. He surfed hours upon end at the beach and later won surfing titles. He lost his life in 1978 while part of a crew trying sail the traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea from Hawaii to Tahiti using only celestial navigation. When the vessel capsized a short way into the trip, Aikau tried to paddle to the island of Lanai, 19 miles from where the Hokulea capsized, to get help. Rescuers later spotted the canoe, but Aikau was never seen again.

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Filed under: Hawaii • Sports
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. drap

    Just leaving for north shore,staying at friend's house across from Chuns reef,brought a 5 board quiver including brand new 7'8" Rusty for big Sunset Beach.Have fun working everyone,Aloha

    January 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • jr

      you dog, say hi to the girls at sugar shack for me

      January 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bodhi

      No way Bells is bigger than Makaha bro.

      January 20, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • InLove0607

      Good luck dude! Wish I was there! The waves on the Southwest coast of Florida are suck! Take lots of pics, can't wait to see them!

      January 20, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |

      So did Delta charge you a thousand dollars to fly five boards?

      January 20, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • John R

      Living in AZ, all I can do is wear my Matsumoto's Shave Ice t-shirt all this week in honor.

      January 20, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tommy C

    RIP Andy Irons...

    January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sussay

    wow! beautiful photographer - what a thrill!

    January 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RawBee

    i wish iwas in hawaii

    January 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bman

    The ultimate testing grounds for man v. wilds......those guys nuts, but aaawwwesome!

    January 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. What in the world

    Mad respect. Sounds like a dream vacation to me 🙂

    January 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jack markowitz

    This is what LIFE is all about! This is why it is so GOOD to be HUMAN and enjoying the magnificent planet we all share in all its WONDER and MAGNIFICENCE! GO SURFERS, MAY YOU ALWAYS FIND THAT PERFECT WAVE!

    January 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Yeah, much better than being non human I suppose.

      January 20, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mari Max

    Headed up tomorrow at 4am My first time on island for the big Eddy and I'm Soooo psyched!!

    How I loved sittin' out back at the sugah shack.... !!! Remember the colorfully painted toilet seats??

    January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Windell semaj

    wwooww he must be "and i-i-i im so hard yea yea yea so hard and i-i-i im so hard yea yea yea so hard sooooo hard soooooooooooo hard soooooooooooo hard soooooooo hard i can do what eva you do what eva so i am fly and yep u know dis sumthin is a lion u gon do da cryin kno dat i aint lyin yea u kno dis neva lyin tru killa want (enter you name) to say it yea u kno it" wwooww that was long

    January 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |

    surfs up.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. waverider

    What many don't know is that the twenty foot waves they refer to is measured from the back. The faces of the waves are expected to be a whopping 35-40 feet.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adoptedwhiteguy

      Most people don't know that. You beat me to it.
      I got thrown around my many a 31/2foot waves. LOL (not a surfer)

      January 20, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. wildbill

    Ohmygod please Lord let me come back as a surfer . . .

    January 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bones1918

    Eddie would go

    January 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. azrael

    Eddie would go!!!!! Those faces are insane at Waimea when they blow in....... Jaws get some epic sets too fo that matter

    January 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Name*me aylward wolf

    remembering the crushing sound of the 30 waves crashing on waimea bay, sitting above on the cars...Big smiles reading the article. Looking back, thinking – wow took that time for granted! Hana ho

    January 20, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
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