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. Brian

    Went to the University of Hawaii for 2.5 years before coming back home to NY, had a friend who lived across the street from pipeline. Miss it like crazy..

    January 20, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny33405

    Aloha to all in every sense of the definition.
    Will be good.
    I will pray for surf.
    I wish Andy Irons could talk to my room mate here.
    For some of us, we surf one day at a time.

    January 20, 2011 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Richard Hungerford

    yes always have great fond memories of the North Shore.....Eddie and Clyde saved my younger brother at the bay...I have dreams of many great times up and down the coast....yes pray for surf...always enjoyed seeing the bay closeout....hail those who climb those mountains

    January 20, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lisa Conine

    Being A Nonsurfer I Cannot Truly Appreciate This Tournamen ,and what It Means To A Surfer,but, It Is Perfectly Clear That The Love And Res Pect For This Surfer,Is appreciated By Surfer And Nonsurfer Alike!

    January 20, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    Aloha Kelly its Jeff from Cocoa Beach. I've been to the north shore many of times. Good Luck....

    January 20, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. BigBen

    Eddie would go!

    January 20, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. PCola Vet

    It would be nice to see Bruce Irons win it and dedicate to his brother Andy. Surf on my dogs. Aloha.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. hoku

    eddie would go!

    January 20, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. J

    Be safe guys and make it for drinks tonight!

    January 20, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Hooper

    U can only say it takes a lot of corage 2 be a surfer . Only scen them in hafemoon bay california.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. kyle

    Come on bruce! win it for andy!

    January 20, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. kyle

    Delta is horrible, flew them to Barbados and cost my boards $300 round trip. But now I work for a great airline and fly the world for free đŸ™‚

    January 20, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Nate

    No mention of Laird being there! Did I miss something? He is the the best and most fearless all around surfer in the world!

    January 20, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    I live in West Maui and woke up to the roar of waves pounding the reef across the street. Hope the Eddie is on – good luck and safe surf to all the boys

    January 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mikey

    Catch one for me bros, I'm stuck in New Mexico for a good while!

    January 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
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