I know that this site is dedicated to hiking adventures, but this is something that I felt we needed to write about so that people that truly love Hawaii (which I assume is you since you're reading this page) would understand the importance and significance of the Eddie Aikau Invitational in regards to spreading a positive message about our islands and the type of people that reside here and the type of people that cherish the natural wonders that we have in abundance.
Modern technology has come to the point where we can forsake many goals and objectives, especially those that took effort and desire to accomplish and achieve. We can now look at pictures that other people took of places, and "imagine" ourselves in that spot. We can listen to podcasts, streaming audio, and MP3s for a musical fix. We manipulate artwork and pictures from online resources to "place" ourselves in a situation that, truth be told, we were not really a part of in the first place. In fact, you probably came here to read up on one of the hikes you're interested in, and, you may not even be interested in seeing some of the things we've seen. But we can transport you there in our tales.
The "Eddie" is a worldwide phenomenon. People from all over the world come to this event, and they get to taste a slice of something that really came from Hawaii, surfing. And this contest is no ordinary contest: it's a BIG wave contest that only a select few surfers are invited to, and it doesn't happen every year. The rules are so stringent, that Waimea Bay needs to have precise wave measurements and solid clear weather for it to be conducted. Over a 25 year span, the contest has only run 7 or 8 times!
The prestige gained by winning this event I would imagine takes a surfer to new heights of notoriety. In fact, I had four different people alone today ask me to identify Bruce Irons, the last winner of the Eddie. I'm pretty sure Bruce really hasn't won as many titles as say his brother Andy or Kelly Slater, but because he won it last time, many people were pulling for him and had great expectations of him. (I must say that he did pretty well in my opinion, he rushed some pretty big monsters when he was out there.)
But to be honest, the thing that impressed me the most about this whole Eddie experience was the whole thing in general. The gestures I witnessed and the "aloha" that was shown made me so proud to be HAWAIIAN! Chinese BU and myself spent two nights out at Waimea, hoping to catch a glimpse of this once in a lifetime event. Everything I saw proved to me how positive Hawaii can be and the impact we can have on people around the world. I met people from Brazil, Connecticut, Tahiti, Japan, New York, Arizona, and probably some other places as well. Each was in a different situation throughout the two day experience, and each was in a very normal human interaction. The guy from Brazil wanted water, so I gave him some. He later ended up helping a local kid get his lost slipper from over the rocks. The couple from Connecticut asked to use the tent I was under for shade for their infant, and of course I said yes. They were happy and talked story with me for a bit about the contest. The guy from Tahiti (he was wearing a Teahupoo shirt, so he may or may not be from Tahiti. He kinda looked Tahitian) needed help carrying his bike over some rocks on the path. He gave me a big shaka and "Mahalo Cuz!" The Japanese Couple wanted to go to the toilet, and one of the neighbors let them use the one in their house. The New York guy needed help with parking, introduced himself to Chinese BU, then invited us to his art show in Haleiwa later this week. And the two local guys and the guy from Arizona helped me break down my tent when I had to go.
News reports claim that there were possibly 30,000 people that went to the Eddie over the entirety of the day, and this doesn't include the previous days. The majority were Hawaii residents, but there was absolute representation from all parts of the globe. I have complete faith that Aloha was demonstrated time and time again. I'm not silly to think that it was all Pono, but I know good will was in force, from many locals, myself and Chinese BU included. And in my humble opinion, that is what truly makes the Eddie special.
You can't really appreciate the massive power of 40 foot waves from your TV or Computer screen. You need to see it, feel the sea spray, and gaze at the panorama for yourself. You can cheer for your favorite surfer from work or the comfort of your sofa, but it was a whole other thing to see the whole Bay (and I mean, EVERYONE watching the contest, at the beach, from the lookout, from the road) stand in unison to cheer for Slater when he caught that Monster wave all the way in (one of my actual favorite surfing moments today: the most decorated surfer of my generation getting huge love for his efforts. The roar from the crowd almost, ALMOST, drowned out the the roar of the surf.) And I know this: you can't experience the Aloha from everyone there unless you get involved for yourself.
I'm not condemning anyone who could not go. There are always priorities in our lives that we need get done at certain times that are non-negotiable, the most notable being work and schooling. I will never argue against those vital precepts of life. What I am advocating is that if there is even the slightest chance to get to see this event in your life, make the necessary plans that you have to to get there for yourself, if possible. Trust me, having to trade with someone at work is something I don't regret in the least. Completely worth it. Hey, we met this teacher who called in sick today!
And here comes the tie-in to our page: you have to get out there for yourself if you really want to find out what something is like. The Eddie, just like hiking, is not meant to be watched from a computer or TV. Get out and do it for yourself. Find out the true meaning of Aloha. Remember, Eddie Would Go!