HONOLULU (AP) — One of the world’s most prestigious and prestigious surfing competitions is set to return to Hawaii on Sunday for the first time in seven years.
And this year, for the first time in the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational’s 39-year history, female surfers will compete side by side with the males.
Also known as The Eddie, this one-day event is held at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore during the winter big wave surfing season from mid-December to mid-March, only when the waves are consistently big enough. It’s a contest. The direction of the wind, tide and swell should also be just right.
“Large enough” means 20 feet (6 meters) in Hawaiian measurements. This equates to approximately 40 feet (12 meters) when measured by the method used in the rest of the United States. So far this year, the conditions have been met for nine editions since the first competition in 1984.
Organizer Clyde Aikau said at a press conference Friday that waves are expected to reach 25-30 feet (7.6-9 meters) measured in Hawaii, or 50-60 feet (15-18 meters) nationally. He said that
“Yes, Eddie is going on Sunday,” he said.
Other locations around the world also host big wave surfing events, including Mavericks in California, Nazaré in Portugal, and Piahi on Maui in Hawaii. But author Stuart Coleman says that Eddie stands out for how he pays tribute to the selflessness, courage and sacrifice of legendary Native Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau. .
“What makes this contest most unique is that it commemorates a specific individual who truly transcends the time and place in which he lived,” says Aikau in his biography Eddie Will Go. said Coleman, who wrote
Edward Ryan McAhanai Aikau made a name for himself as the first lifeguard hired by Honolulu to work on Oahu’s North Shore and was revered for saving over 500 people in his career. He is also famous for surfing towering waves that no one else dares to ride.
Aikau died in 1978 at the age of 31 while sailing from Honolulu to Tahiti in a traditional Polynesian sailing canoe. The huge double-hulled canoe, known as Hokule’a, was swamped and capsized in heavy weather just hours from port. Aikau volunteered to paddle a few miles on her surfboard to the nearby island of Lanai to get help from the rest of her crew, but she never appeared again.
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the rest of the crew hours later after being alerted by a commercial airliner that spotted the canoe.
Coleman says The Eddie talks about the best of big wave surfing and the best of Hawaiian culture.
“At the opening ceremony where they met to kick off the run, they said, ‘This is not just a contest. We’re not surfing for each other. We’re surfing in Eddie’s spirit.'” said Coleman.
This year, the organizers have invited 40 competitors and 18 substitute players from around the world. Among them is Kelly Slater, who has won his record 11 world surfing titles. Two-time back-to-back world title winner John John Florence from the North Shore is also being called on.
Keira Kennelly of Kauai, Women’s Big Wave Surf Champion, is one of the female invitees.
Mindy Pennybacker, surf columnist for Honolulu Star-Advertiser and author of the forthcoming book Surfing in Hawaii Sisterhood Hawaii: Wahine Brings Back the Waves, says Waimea is too dangerous for women to surf. has been thought for a long time, he said.
She said they had to fight to be included, all the while showing that they could handle big waves at spots around the world.
“To see not just women surfing in Waimea, but women and men sharing the same event with respect and equality for each other, I am really excited about the idea,” said Penny. Bucker said.
The competition is expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators to the two-lane highway through small towns scattered across the North Shore and coastal areas.
Kathleen Pahinui, chairman of the North Shore Neighborhood Board, said this would be good for businesses, restaurants and shops. She urged visitors to carpool and take buses as the roads would be congested.
“I wish all participants the best of luck,” she said.