Parking was already taken for 7 miles between Haleiwa and Sunset Beach by Wednesday night. Thousands of locals and tourists got into their cars to drive to see 40 to 60-foot waves and experience Eddie.
For some North Shore residents, showing aloha was not a priority today. First, some were charging visitors as much as $100 for parking. Even the Catholic Church and Waimea Falls Park was in on taking tourists for high parking fees.
However, it was worth every dime. At 5 in the morning, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf as well as Foodland had record numbers of clients.
The real excitement started when Eddie was given a go around 7 am.
Before the sun came up over the horseshoe-shaped Waimea Bay, organizers huddled together to make the final call on the invitation-only big-wave competition that hasn’t been held in six years.
The event, in memory of local lifeguard and big-wave surfer, Eddie Aikau, went forward as towering waves met the founder’s strict minimum requirements.
As a lifeguard, Eddie Aikau is said to have never had a fatality while on duty. When the surf was too big for most in Waimea Bay and the crowds cleared out, Aikau would grab his surfboard and take on the biggest waves around.
Ultimately, however, Aikau gave his life to the ocean in a final attempt to save others. The 31-year-old Aikau was part of a team that was attempting to trace the route of their Polynesian ancestors from Hawaii to Tahiti aboard the traditional Hokulea canoe in 1978.
The rules say waves must be 40 feet high, and the swell should have enough sustained power to last all day. The winds have to be right, the time of the tide is taken into account, and once everything falls into place, the word is given.
It was a holiday for most on the North Shore, including for the usually busy eTN staff taking turns to walk down to Waimea Bay.
The water was unpredictable today. eTN publisher, along with hundreds of others, was almost knocked over by a surprise wave today. The video shows more:
In Round 2, Australia’s Ross Clarke-Jones was leading with a combined score of 278, KGMB reported.