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The Eddie: A Lot Can Change in 7 Years


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The human body is capable of undergoing massive transformations in that span of time. Revolutions can arise. Empires can fall. Trends can come, and trends can most certainly go. But one thing that cannot change in seven years — or any amount of time, for that matter — is the spirit of The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau surf contest.

The event is an invite-only gathering at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, and it has not run in 7 years. Every other surf contest in the world is centered around the ocean and leaves the decision-making up to the people, but The Eddie changes that. It allows the ocean call the shots. It provides an empty sheet and a ballpoint pen, but the script is only to be written by the forces of the wild. The event won’t run unless the waves are big enough to shake the earth and conditions like that are a bona fide rarity. In its 31-year history, The Eddie has only been held 8 times.

“That’s one of the things that makes it so special,” says invitee Jamie O’Brien. “They don’t call it three or four days in advance. We see a swell coming and everybody comes over to Hawaii if they’re not already here. Then we wake up that day and if it’s on, it’s on.“

As fate has it, we’re currently seeing a swell coming and for the first time in 6 years the event has been green-lit.

2009 was the last time The Eddie ran. Andy Irons surfed in it that year. Instagram didn’t even exist back then. John John Florence was only 16 and Boom Boom Pow by The Black Eyed Peas was officially the hottest song of the year. Thankfully, some things have changed.

Some things will be different this year. The roster is ever-evolving, and each ceremony features a different list of surfers. Big wave surfing itself has changed a lot in those years. But something that hasn’t changed is the spontaneity of it all. The realness, the rawness. The spirit of The Eddie.

February 10th 2016, the Bay will call the day.

Words: Brendan Buckley

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Albee Layer - “Getting an invite to compete in this event felt surreal,” said Albee Layer, a 24-year-old first-time invitee. “Even though I grew up in Hawaii, the Eddie still seemed like it was so far away. I think that’s because I looked at all the guys surfing in it as superheroes.”

J.O.B - ”People always talk about dreams coming true. But for me, winning The Eddie would be an actual dream that I had as a child coming true. It’d be out of this world.”

Aaron Gold - “It’s a huge honor just to be invited to this event, but to have a chance to actually surf in it is a whole different thing. It’d be amazing to compete in such a prestigious event with the best big wave surfers in the world.” …

“The special thing about The Eddie is that in only runs when the conditions are truly worthy, in conditions that Eddie Aikau himself would have approved of.”

“The actual contest part of it doesn’t mean that much to me. I think it’s all about everybody coming together. Big wave surfing is a brotherhood, and this event brings us all to a very special place and allows us to experience it together for a day. We all have each others back and it really feels like a family out there.”

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Makua Rothman - “To be a part of this event is mind-blowing. It’s everything everybody’s ever shot for. It’s probably the most significant contest in the big wave community.”

Greg Long - “The Eddie is the most prestigious big wave event in the world but to me, it is far more than a competition...it's a celebration of the sport of big wave surfing, Eddie Aikau’s life, and the respect we share for the ocean and one another. Winning it in 2009 was a dream come true and undoubtedly the greatest surfing accomplishment of my life.”

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