Hawaii Report: The Day The Eddie Didn’t Run
Oahu was massive today. Here are some photos to prove it.
“I think if the Eddie waiting period was still going, it for sure would be on today,” said an out-of-breath Mason Ho after negotiating Waimea’s notorious shorebreak sans-surfboard (he’d been caught by a closeout set and broke his leash).
“To be honest, I think it’s a little smaller than the last Eddie they had [2016, John Florence won etc], just because last time there’s no way I could have gotten out without a ski, but this time I pulled it.”
After splitting with long-time sponsor Quiksilver in 2016, the Eddie Aikau Foundation has worked tirelessly to keep the historic event alive each winter. With the help of local sponsors, the competition was given the green light for the 2019-2020 season, but due to a lack of sufficient swell, the event was not able to run.
This year, there was no official update on the Foundation’s official website, but it could be assumed that the ongoing pandemic played a role in their inability to hold the event in winter 2020-2021.
This didn’t stop an audacious crew of matadors from prancing around (and occasionally getting gorged by) an enraged Waimea Bay today. Nor did it stop the throngs of rabid, beer-throwing spectators from filing in and perching themselves along the adjacent beach and cliffs.
What a show it was.
The buoys today read 22 feet at 17 seconds. That’s big big. Some have called it the biggest swell in a decade, and we don’t have any particular data points to dispute them. Spots all over the North Shore lit up, from Waimea to various outer reefs. And everyone who wanted a piece, got it—and then some.
Local boy Koa Rothman called a certain left-hand reef pass, which bears a striking resemblance to XXL Cloudbreak, the best it’s ever been. John Florence reportedly got a huge tube, as did Kohl Christenson, which fellow-paddler Kelly Slater explained in great detail on Surfline’s IG stories.
Meanwhile, Koa Smith filmed an outer reef right that looked every bit of “two to tree…tops”, as Pancho Sullivan put it.
Of course, the day was not without its mishaps.
Mark Healey’s jetski got washed nearly to shore but was saved by Jamie Mitchell and co.
At the same spot (and perhaps by the same set), an entire channel of onlookers got caught by a closeout and had to decide whether to book it out and over the set, or to scamper in with their tow ropes between their legs.
The majority chose to out, including Mike Latronic, who was a little late to the punch. Not having enough time to kill the gas before breaching the wave, Mike used the swell as a Burnquist-esque mega ramp and flew some 20 feet in the air on his PWC. Flashbacks of Alex Botehlo’s Nazaré incident came to mind, but this time, fortunately, no one was injured.
[Update: Mike Latronic was not on the white ski. Nobody seems to know who that was. Photographer Ryan Moss was, however, injured on one of the other skis that flew over the wave.]
Here’s Mike’s account of the incident:
And here’s an iPhone capture of the moment, proving that Mike Latronic significantly under-embellished his air (what a legend!):
Meanwhile, Jaws was reportedly huge and windy. Very few who attempted to paddle. The best moment we’ve found through a cursory Gram scroll is this tow-in tube by France’s big wave (and air) extraordinaire, Justine Dupont:
We’re certain there are many other historically-significant rides from January 16, 2021 that have yet to see the light of day. This is not a comprehensive narrative, just a brief report of the day the Eddie didn’t run.
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