A Guide to Everything You Need to Know About the Eddie Before You Go

Don’t venture out to the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest until you read this guide.

UPDATED FEB. 24, 2016, 9:52 A.M.: Quiksilver has green-lit the competition for Thursday, Feb. 25. Read the updated story.


UPDATED FEB. 10, 2016, 7:11 A.M.: Quiksilver has officially called off the event. Read the full story.


Video: Quiksilver


A monstrous swell is coming to Waimea Bay this Wednesday and more than 20,000 people are expected to pack O‘ahu’s North Shore to watch the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest. For the first time in six years, Quiksilver organizers gave the green light to hold the prestigious big-wave invitational surf contest. If you want to brave the crowds, here’s what you need to know before you travel to the North Shore.


1. About the Event 

Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest.
Photo: Quiksilver


California’s Greg Long won the Eddie in December 2009, the last time this prestigious big-wave invitational was held. This Wednesday’s Eddie will mark the ninth one in 31 years. The event started in 1984 at Sunset Beach in the honor of Eddie Aikau, the first official lifeguard at Waimea Bay who developed a reputation as a big-wave rider. No one died under his watch. Between 1967 and 1978, he surfed every major swell that rolled onto the North Shore. In March 1978, Aikau was lost at sea after the Hōkūleʻa capsized on the way to Tahiti. 


SEE ALSO: The New Eddie Aikau Book Catches Monster 50-Foot Swell


2. Surf Conditions 

Organizers are anticipating solid surf that reaches the contest’s wave-face height requirement of 40 feet. It has taken us six years to pull the trigger, but this is the first swell we have seen that is truly lining up as an Eddie swell,” said event director Glen Moncata in a statement. Organizers gave the Eddie a green light on Monday when waves reached more than 20 feet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because the judging format for the Eddie is different from other surf contests, the waves must hit the 20-plus-foot range for an entire eight-hour period. Organizers want the contest to be fair, since surfers in the first heat are judged against surfers in the last heat. There’s a small chance that the Eddie might not go on Wednesday if the surf conditions aren’t right. “As my father (George) would say, ‘The bay will call the day,’” says Keone Downing, who won the Eddie in 1990. 


3. Surfers 

The surf at Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest.
Photo: Quiksilver


It’s an honor to get invited to participate in the Eddie, let alone compete. You’ll catch 11-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater, 2015 Volcom Pipe Pro champion John John Florence and even 2009 Eddie champion Greg Long hitting the surf. See the full list below: 


Heat 1:
Shane Dorian (Hawai‘i), Kohl Christensen (Hawai‘i), Greg Long (California), Ramon Navarro (Chicago), Sunny Garcia (Hawai‘i), Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia), Jamie Mitchell (Australia)

Heat 2:
Kelly Slater (Florida), David Wassell (Hawai‘i), Grant Baker (South Africa), Reef McIntosh (Hawai‘i), Jamie O'Brien (Hawai‘i), Aaron Gold (Hawai‘i), Tom Carroll (Australia)

Heat 3: 
John John Florence (Hawai‘i), Mark Healey (Hawai‘i), Clyde Aikau (Hawai‘i), Nathan Fletcher (California),  Noah Johnson (Hawai‘i), Peter Mel (California), Takayuki Wakita (Japan)

Heat 4:
Bruce Irons (Hawai‘i), Makuakai Rothman (Hawai‘i), Ian Walsh (Hawai‘i), Albee Layer (Hawai‘i), Kala Alexander (Hawai‘i), Garrett McNamara (Hawai‘i), Jeremy Flores (France)


Mason Ho (Hawai‘i), Danilo Couto (Brazil), Mark Mathews (Australia), Koa Rothman (Hawai‘i), Ben Wilkinson (Australia)


4. Quiksilver’s Instagram

Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest.

Photo: Zak Noyle


You’ve probably seen surf photographer Zak Noyle’s epic wave shots on Instagram. You’ll be seeing more of his work when he takes over the Quiksilver Instagram feed on Wednesday. Armed with just a camera, two iPhones and fins, he’ll be sharing live Instagrams and Snapchats from the ocean during the competition. Fun fact: Noyle was the only photographer allowed in the water during the 2009 Eddie at the age of 24. 


SEE ALSO:  12 Epic Instagrams You Must Follow for a Glimpse at North Shore’s Massive Surf


5. What to expect

The competition could begin as early as 8 a.m., and end as late as 4:30 p.m. If you’re planning to journey to the North Shore, try to get there by 5 a.m. There’s no overnight camping allowed on the beach. The Honolulu Police Department will be patrolling the area to kick out any campers. Here’s a better idea: Sleep at a North Shore friend’s house Tuesday night, so you can avoid the horrendous traffic in the morning. 


Eat before you go. There won’t be any food trucks stationed on Waimea Bay, so remember to bring your own food and water to the event. But hey, Hale‘iwa’s famous shave ice and shrimp shacks are only a bus ride away!


There’ll be North Shore lifeguards on duty to keep people away from the high surf. Lifeguards are starting earlier shifts from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. There’ll be an advanced life support ambulance on standby at Waimea Bay Beach Park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 


6. Parking and Transportation

Yes, parking will be a headache if you’re driving. There’s no public parking allowed at Waimea Bay Beach Park on the day of the competition. Don’t even think about illegally parking along Kamehameha Highway and side streets. “You don’t want your car towed, so follow the rules,” says Mayor Kirk Caldwell. If you do get your car towed, you can pick it up at the old Meadow Gold Dairy site near Laniākea Beach for a hefty fine. 


There’s only one road to the North Shore, so expect to get stuck in traffic. Twelve Honolulu Police Department officers will be on special duty to assist with traffic flow. 


If the parking situation scares you, good news: You can catch a free shuttle from Kaiaka Bay Beach Park to Waimea Bay Beach Park from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. TheBus will provide additional service on route 52 (Honolulu-Mililani-Hale‘iwa) and route 55 (Honolulu-Kāneʻohe-Hale‘iwa) to accommodate the expected increase in ridership. Here’s the schedule: 

Ala Moana Center on Kona Street (#847)

  • 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 5:45 a.m., 6:05 a.m., 6:20 a.m., 6:35 a.m., 7:05 a.m., 7:35 a.m., 8:05 a.m., 8:35 a.m., 9:05 a.m., 9:35 a.m., 10:05 a.m.

Alapai Transit Center (#2288)

  • 5:10 a.m., 5:40 a.m., 5:55 a.m., 6:15 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 8:45 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 10:15 a.m.


If you don’t want to hop on a bus or a shuttle, you can park your car at Waimea Valley for a fee starting at 3 a.m. There will be roughly 60 spots available at the front entrance for $20 per space and at least 250 spots on the gravel parking lot across from the parking booth for $10 per space. 


7. Where to watch 

Surfers at Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest
Photo: Quiksilver


If you can’t go Wednesday, don’t panic. You can still catch a live broadcast on Oceanic Time Warner Cable channels 250 and 1250HD or live streaming on the World Surf League’s website and Quiksilver’s website.  


Read More Stories by Diane Lee