Joliphotos.com captures the magic of the event that went
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 February, 2016 - The El Nino year has been lighting up the Northern Pacific with massive swells for the past eight weeks. The big wave surfers have been spending almost as much time in jet aeroplanes as they have in the water and it doesn’t look like it's over yet.
The original big wave event, The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau has been at Yellow Alert twice this winter, this time last week, the event status went to Green. The news had people flying into Hawaii from all over the globe including yours truly who didn’t want to miss a chance to shoot this contest especially considering I was involved with the setting up of the inaugural event 31 years ago.
I arrived Tuesday, the afternoon before the scheduled event day and even the Honolulu Immigration Officer who had tried to go the last time there was a call was giving me tips on how to avoid the early morning traffic jams and massive crowd that lines Waimea Bay which is exactly what the Eddie generates... "Get there early” was his advice. I certainly did and in fact slept in a Uhaul truck parked on the lawn backing up to the sand within 60 metres (200 feet) of the water at Waimea Bay.
People had been arriving at the Bay from about 3pm the previous day and the crowd continued to grow during the night despite the park being blocked off by the police. By 5am there was a crowd of over a 1000 people waiting patiently at the park entrance.
The word was given to "let em in" and they streamed onto the beach and staked out vantage points. It’s been described by a lot of people as the ‘Woodstock of Surfing’ with people walking and riding push bikes in wrapped in blankets, carrying guitars, soft toys, all sorts of camping gear, bbq’s and cooler’s (eski’s). The competitors were almost invisible in amongst the crowd and not because it was still dark. Police estimated the crowd to be around 8000!!
I woke around 4am and my first thought was that there was no noise, no constant roar of white water from big breaking waves. There should be noise I thought and the reality that the swell hadn’t arrived slowly sunk in. At first light there was white water on the point but no real size and even before the sun came up it was announced The Eddie was a no GO. Even after this announcement that the contest was off, Eddie would not GO, people stayed enjoying the vibe, hanging out to enjoy their day at the beach. Early afternoon the swell was pushing 15’ and the crowd who had arrived in the early hours of the morning got to witness 20’ waves being ridden.
Former winner, Clyde Aikau had been interviewed on the beach shortly after the call was made, he talked about his big brother Eddie and the fun times they had surfing together as being a very special thing, he said he was so humbled driving the last few miles to Waimea seeing the massive crowds making their way to honor Eddie's legacy.
Listening to Clyde's words Jodi Wilmott, the Event’s Media Officer wrote : "If the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is about honoring a legendary Hawaiian waterman and the wave and sport he lived and loved so deeply, then Eddie did GO yesterday [Wednesday February 10]. Thousands of people stayed all day. They cheered the lifeguards as they saved lives. They cheered heroic surfers who rode the rising swell. They made no trouble. They got it: The Eddie went - it's just a matter of perspective. It's clear there will be more incredible and big waves to come. We will keep cheering. But there's only one Eddie and it will always make us proud."
Check out Joli's "Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau 2015-16" images