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Famous Big-Wave Surf Contest Thwarted By Undersized Waves

A surfer catches a wave at Waimea Bay after the In Memory of Eddie Aikau surfing contest was canceled on Wednesday.
Marco Garcia
A surfer catches a wave at Waimea Bay after the In Memory of Eddie Aikau surfing contest was canceled on Wednesday.

There's really only one thing you absolutely need to hold a big-wave surf competition, and it's big waves.

Unfortunately for a famous surf contest in Hawaii scheduled for Wednesday, the waves failed to measure up.

"The Bay calls the day. The Eddie is No Go," read the website of the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau contest, called "The Eddie" for short.

The beach of Oahu's North Shore, where the competition was slated to take place, was packed with spectators before the sun had even risen, The Associated Press reports, but the requisite swells never materialized.

Around dawn, organizers called it off hours before it was supposed to begin.

Clyde Aikau, Eddie Aikau's brother, thanked the surfers and spectators for their support in a video posted to the site. He said, "We are sorry it didn't run but that's how nature is. Hopefully we'll have it again and see you next time."

The AP adds that El Niño conditions had helped stir up big waves, but the expected 40-foot swells never showed up on Wednesday. The event organizers will keep an eye on the ocean to see whether conditions allow the competition to go ahead in the coming weeks.

Wednesday's "Eddie" was to be the first since 2010. In fact, since its inception in 1985, it has been held only eight times, according to the World Surf League website. The site has this about the origins of the competition:

"The big-wave event honors the legendary Eddie Aikau, Waimea Bay's first lifeguard. A North Shore local and respected waterman, Aikau spent his free time rescuing swimmers and surfing big swells. After competing as a professional surfer, he was selected to join an expedition on a Polynesian voyaging canoe — the Hokule'a — headed for Tahiti. But mission was quickly abandoned when the Hokule'a encountered a storm and capsized. After surviving the night with his crew mates, Aikau decided to paddle to land for help.

"Despite his unparalleled skills in the water, he would never reach land. A massive manhunt began, including the deployment of the largest air and sea search in Hawaiian history, but Aikau was never seen again."

Update: The Eddie Is A Go

On Thursday Feb. 25, the 40-foot waves in Oahu's North Shore were deemed big enough to hold the competition. Check it out here.

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