An elite Hawaiian surfing competition held only when waves are 35 feet or higher may be called within the coming week on the north shore of the island of Oahu. The last time it was held? 2009.
"The Eddie," named in honor of Hawaiian hero Eddie Aikau, was last held at Waimea Bay in 2009. It's sponsored by Quicksilver, and involves flying in a selected group of the strongest, most elite surfers in the world. The waves are deadly; injuries and deaths in this area and with waves that high do happen.
The invitational event is considered by many to be the most prestigious surfing event in the world. An invitation to participate is in and of itself a high honor for the most elite of surfing's elite.
Currently in Hawaii, surf is in the 10-15 foot range on the North Shore, and is expected to grow to 25-35 by Friday evening. Stay tuned to this Twitter account and the hashtag #eddiewouldgo to see if and when they call it. If you're in Hawaii or can hop on a plane to get there, it's worth the trip. The period during which the contest may be called ends on February 28.
One man makes the call: George Downing. And like the space shuttle launches, he can call it off at any moment, too.
You can see videos from the last time the Eddie was held here.
About Eddie Aikau:
More swell is lining up for next week that event organizers are carefully watching. Stay tuned! (2/2) #EddieWouldGo— Quiksilver (@Quiksilver) January 16, 2014
The local saying, "Eddie Would Go," refers to his stoke to take on big waves that other surfers would shy away from and his courage to make a rescue in impossible situations.
"Eddie" became involved in perpetuating his Hawaiian heritage. In 1976, the Polynesian Voyaging Society sailed the Hokule'a on a successful 30-day, 2500 mile journey following the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands. In 1978, a second voyage of the traditional sailing canoe was planned. At 31 years of age, Aikau was selected for this voyage as a crew member. The Hokule'a left the Hawaiian Islands on March 16, 1978. The double-hulled voyaging canoe developed a leak in one of the hulls and later capsized in stormy weather about twelve miles south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get to land to save his crew and the Hokule'a, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Hours later a commercial airplane spotted the Hokule'a and the rest of the crew was soon rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Aikau was missing at sea. Despite great search efforts "Eddie" was never seen again.
(Thanks, Rick Bernstein!)