#EddieWouldGo: $75k waves and wipeouts at surf’s wildest competition (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Legendary Hawaiian lifeguard Eddie Aikau is considered a surfing deity by his fellow sportsmen, which is why the colossal wave competition honoring him was delayed for seven years until conditions were ripe for high rollers.
Thousands of spectators turned out to the North Shore event as thrill-seeking surfers took to the waves – some of the biggest yet in the competition’s history.
Hawaii’s John John Florence was declared the 2016 event’s champion for “bringing a new style” to the competition, managing to catch waves up to 60 feet in height, event sponsor Quiksilver reported.
Yesterday was probably one of the best days of my life. It was such a privilege to be out there surfing with my Hero's and some of my best friends in the Eddie Aikau Event! It was pretty much as big as Waimea holds and everyone was charging. I just wanted to say a big thanks to the Aikau family, Hawaiian water patrol and everyone else involved in this event. Also thank you Brock little for inspiring everyone to go on the waves that were coming yesterday !
The 23-year-old Hawaiian native becomes the youngest person to win the 31-year-old competition and received a prize of $75,000.
Fans were treated to epic surfing and even crazier wipeouts.
"Barreled at the Bay... This man is an icon, and for good reason. It was tube time for @kellyslater at Waimea today. The 2002 Eddie champion showing the crowd how it's done." - The Inertia's @shannonreporting Watch another angle of Slater's barrel during The Eddie on theinertia.com☝️Link in our bio. Credit: @shannonreporting | @thegobigproject #barrelforbrock #eddiewouldgo #waimea
Eddie Aikau’s untimely death at the age of 31 contributed to his cult-hero status.
The master of the waves was the first official lifeguard to man Waimea Bay on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and is credited with saving many lives, according to the foundation set up in his honor. He died in a boating accident in 1978.
According to Quiksilver, waves need to be as high as 40 foot for the commemorative competition to be given the go-ahead. Since the wave height rule is so strict, the competition has only been held nine times since 1984.
The 9th Eddie Aikau in 31 years! Only the best and BIGGEST for this Great Hawaiian Hero! pic.twitter.com/erVCO9dVZV— Kaleo Kahoa (@Mahalo_Monkey) February 25, 2016
Aikau is remembered fondly for riding massive waves other surfers would not dream of taking on, a characteristic captured in the tagline of Thursday’s competition: “#EddieWouldGo”.