Here's why the Eddie Aikau Invitational didn't run
Words by Morgan Williamson
In an era where our expectations become set and let down due to overhyped swells, it’s rare that the contrary takes place. “It was a wild weekend for sure,” says Albee Layer, who spent his entire day wrestling 30 foot-plus dragons on another “historic” paddle day at Maui’s premiere big wave oasis. The BWWT event at Todos Santos was called on and Josh Kerr took the cake on Sunday, but Friday afternoon clips started to pour through our feed of Waimea Bay maxing out and between the chaos some good ones slid through. Suddenly the question bubbling in everyone's saliva was; why aren’t they running the Eddie? It takes a special swell for the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitational to commence. With due respect to the late, great Eddie, Waimea’s got to be at least 20 feet Hawaiian. The event notoriously never runs and by the afternoon it was more contestable than it's been in the past six years. The Eddie's been in effect for 31 years now and it's only run eight times, last being in 2009 when Greg Long took the number one spot.
The question’s been raised and hypothesized on since Friday. Was it because Jaws was going to be perfect? Or maybe the BWWT event in Todos pulling away too many of the main invitees? Not enough coin in Quik’s kitty based off their recent Chapter 11 filing was another concern, all of which is speculation and the financial status of Quik had nothing to do with the decision not to run the contest… they’re here to stay. “From what I heard,” says Albee, “they definitely could have ran it. I talked to John John after he surfed Waimea on Friday and he said it was big and pretty fun. Whenever they would run the Eddie, Jaws would also be going off so I don’t think that had much to do with it. The problem was the swell based off the models was underplayed. No one knew how big it was actually going to be. Most swells are forecasted big and wind up being smaller, but this one did the opposite. That was probably a big play in their call not to run it.” Which is an understandable sentiment. In the morning, when they would have called the event on, the swell had not yet filled in. “I’m really honoured to be invited to the Eddie," continues Mr Layer, "but I’m not sure if I’m going to surf it. I feel like there’s people more deserving of the event. Mason Ho’s the first alternate, and it’d be so fun to watch him out there. And, I’d be devastated to miss a day like Friday out at Jaws.”
“That Friday was such a bummer for me,” the ever-stoked Mason Ho and Aikau pick tells me. “Leading up to, and after the Pipe Masters I was surfing all day everyday. I kept telling myself I needed a day off before my body shut down. Friday morning that day came along with a sore throat, clogged sinuses and a high fever. I was so mad I couldn’t surf, it ripped my heart straight in half.” When I ask Mase why he thinks they didn’t call the contest on he laughs and says, “I like to think it was the surf gods. They knew I was sick with a fever and were like, nah no contest today. But, if they did call it on I would have been out there even if I was bleeding out of my eyes.”
“That day seemed do-able for the Eddie,” Mason continues. “Other than my personal theory, when they forecasted the swell the winds were supposed to be shitty and it didn’t look big enough to run the event. The pre-hype for Waimea wasn’t there, everybody was just hyping Todos. They didn’t think Jaws was going be as big as it was either; that was crazy, it looked unpaddleable… but apparently it was. Seems like after Friday anything’s paddleable.”
“I went and watched Waimea for a bit in the afternoon” says Mase. “It was the best Waimea I’ve ever seen as an adult. It was one of those days I dream about out there, big and perfect. I was losing my mind! I think we’re all pretty bummed it didn’t run, hopefully we’ll get an even better swell before the end of February. Every 30 minutes the bay was closing out but for some reason it looked pretty buttery. Even my Dad (Michael Ho), who’s hurt right now or else he would have been out there was like; look at this, it’s 25 foot and butter!”