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The envelope please ...
|Greg Long's last minute heroics earned him the title last December.|
Well, the names are in. The 28 global hellmen and 18 alternates have been chosen to compete in the very prestigious Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, fueled by Monster Energy Big Wave Invitational.
On one special day this winter, between December 1st and February 28th, when the surf reaches that threshold of 20-foot (Hawaiian scale) at Waimea Bay, the assembled surfers will compete for not only $98,000, but untold respect in the greatest big-wave arena in the world.
Now, bear in mind that this contest doesn't happen every year. In fact, in it's 25-year history, it's only happened eight times. If the surf doesn't reach the criteria, the event doesn't happen. Last year was a stellar day at the Bay, with Greg Long pulling out some late-day heroics to take the win from the superhuman Kelly Slater.
Every year, we get consumed with the list of invitees and who hangs on and takes the massive Waimea shorebreak on the head for extra points. But I'm not sure that casual observers and the younger generation are that familiar with who Eddie Aikau was.
|Eddie Aikua, true embodiment of the Hawaiian spirit.|
Truth is, he was one of the greatest watermen and ambassadors of aloha in history. An outstanding surfer and swimmer, he was hired as the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, in 1968. He served bravely and selflessly, saving lives and embodying the true Hawaiian spirit as a person and surfer. In 1977, he beat the greatest surfers of his time at the Duke Kahanamoku Classic.
In 1978, he signed on to sail a traditional voyaging canoe on a 2,500 mile trip for the Polynesian Voyaging Society to help historians understand the migration of Polynesian peoples from Tahiti to the Hawaiian Islands. It would be his last, however, as the vessel capsized. Ever the courageous, Aikua volunteered to paddle his board to Molokai to get help. It was 12 miles away. The Coast Guard rescued the rest of the crew and Aikau was never found. He lost his life the way he lived it, sacrificing for others.
|Andy Irons, seen here in 2009, will forever be an Honorary Invitee.|
Just getting on the alternate list is like getting tapped by Eddie himself. On December 2nd, Quik will hold its opening ceremony on the beach at Waimea.Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikua Invitees and Alternates