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. Dexter Heir

    Surf's up! Heading to No Shore this morn...surf report to follow

    January 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom, Long Beach, California

    Awesome bra's ....go get it Bruce or Mark for Andy.
    Delata sucks, buy's French planes and screws Americans....boycott Delta

    January 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kerry Berger

    North Shore mo' betta, braddah.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WaxBrain

    Nothing is better than riding those liquid avalanches! Absolutely nothing!!!

    January 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. M. Vick

    Aikau means "SHARK FOOD" in Hawaiian. True story, look it up!!

    January 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jaws

    I had a Aikau burger the other day. AMAZING!!!!!

    January 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bigdoglv

    I am not worthy, I am not worthy. These guys are fearless.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dane

    Eddie would go......

    January 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jaws

    Yea but since Eddie is worm food . . .

    January 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob Stanton

    HANG NINE DUDES!!!!!

    January 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KELLER

    Surfers like to wax each others boards!!

    January 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve Embree

    Good luck, Kelly Slater! I've been watching you for years. 😉

    January 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve Embree

    You have the tightest abs and nicest backside this guy has EVER seen!!

    January 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve Embree

    Good luck and be careful! Have fun.

    January 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve Embree

    And wear protection cuz everyone knows surfers are infested with STDs.

    January 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
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