There was a lot of talk leading up to the 9th Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational. I had never seen The Eddie before, so I asked for the day off - "if it's a go".
The contest was entering "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" territory, after a false call this season. Two weeks ago, crowds more than ready for the contest had arrived by the thousands, only to be disappointed when the swells came too early, and the contest was called off.
But as it's said, "the bay calls the day", and yesterday was the day. It was no disappointment to me and the estimated 25,000 other people that showed up. Massive waves swept through the bay, soaking many spectators.
(Image: Jamie O'Brien jumps off his board as a huge wave rushes toward him.)
Clyde Aikau (youngest brother of Eddie Aikau, whom the contest is held in memory of), said of this year's contest "I've been riding Waimea Bay for over 40 years, and today has to be one of the best days I've ever seen".
Huge cheers erupted as Clyde took his first wave. After his heat, Clyde said "It’s always an honor to ride for Eddie. I’ve been riding the Eddie for 31 years so it was very emotional, but it was a great send-off".
However it was 23-year-old John John Florence that edged ahead, and was named the 2016 champion, receiving the largest payout ($75,000) in Big Wave surfing, becoming the second youngest surfer to win the title.
Ross Clarke-Jones finished second, and Shane Dorian third.
"I want to say thanks to the Aikau family and Quiksilver for putting on this amazing event. I’ve only seen it run a couple of times in my life so to be a part of it, surfing in it, and to actually win it is such a dream come true…", Florence said.
As for me, it won't be a day I'll easily forget, and I am reminded once again of the many reasons I love our island.
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