Stab Magazine | Is the Eddie still relevant?
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Is the Eddie still relevant?

Words by Jed Smith The Eddie’s been the ultimate test for over three decades now. The event’s so prestigious it’s named after our bravest ever, the late great Eddie Aikau. It hasn’t been run in six years due to wave heights not reaching the required minimum of 20 feet, and that’s a long time surfing – […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by Adam Stead
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Words by Jed Smith

The Eddie’s been the ultimate test for over three decades now. The event’s so prestigious it’s named after our bravest ever, the late great Eddie Aikau. It hasn’t been run in six years due to wave heights not reaching the required minimum of 20 feet, and that’s a long time surfing – notwithstanding the events of this year’s El Niño winter at Jaws and Mavericks. Does the old dame at Waimea Bay still have what it takes to enthral the surfing masses?

“It’s gotta be pretty substantial Waimea to stack up against what we’ve seen all winter,” admits Albee Layer, one of the competitors set to take to the water this Wednesday in waves expected to exceed 25 feet. “But if it is and all the top guys are pushing it as much as they have been all year it will still be crazy. It might not quite as crazy as some of the stuff we’ve seen this year but it’ll still be gnarly,” he says.

All lei’d up and ready to go. Ian Walsh, Albee, Billy Kemper and Kai Lenny at the opening ceremony. Photo: Gavin Shige

The game has changed in no small way since Greg Long last won the event back in 2009. In that time we’ve seen dozens of groundbreaking clips, feats and photos – from the Cloudbreak super swells, to the plus-sized El Niño corduroy that’s slammed Jaws and Mavericks this past winter. Waimea still has a few tricks up her sleeve yet to be explored by the world’s best, according to Albee.

“The whole big wave movement has changed so much. I think we’ll see a lot of different approaches to surfing Waimea to what we’ve seen in the past, ” he says, hinting at the elusive barrels offered up by the world’s thickest drop as a possible x-factor. “Slater did it last time when he knifed into a barrel. I think there will be a lot more guys going for the hail mary barrel if the day has potential for it. Waimea definitely barrels on the right wave it’s just harder to get the right wave there than Jaws,” he says.

The wave, which is primarily about the steep, thick, ledging take off, has none of the down the line entertainment of some of the world’s other premiere big wave spots. Nor is it known for barrels. On the plus side, the past six years of big wave surfing heroics means the world’s best are primed to put on a show.

Some madman must pull into the Waimea Shorey… or else it just wouldn’t be The Eddie. Photo: Ted Grambeau

“Everyone’s been surfing such gnarly sessions all year that some of the waves at Waimea that used to be terrifying won’t be as much,” Albee tells us. “Guys will be pushing it a little deeper and going for the barrel. I don’t think anyone will be pulling back on anything.”

As for what’s going to win you the event, Albee thinks it will be much the same: go deep, go big, get crushed by a few thousand tonnes of water and into the channel. “It seems like the deeper you sit out there the crazier the wave gets, it depends on how willing guys are to push it,” he says.

His tip is Maui underground hero and star of the recent day of days at Jaws, Aaron Gold, is a dark horse.
“I’ve surfed so many big wave sessions with him and he’s been pushing it the hardest and getting the biggest waves and he knows the wave really well,” he says.

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