Schedule : Next call at 8.30AM
The world's most celebrated big wave riders gathered under heavy skies at Waimea Bay today for the traditional opening ceremony of the 26th annual Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, fueled by Monster Energy. December of every year, during the Hawaiian winter, is when attention turns to the prestigious Invitee list of 28 surfers who are asked to ride mammoth waves at Waimea like Aikau did in his time.
But this year it is the fresh loss of former invitees Andy Irons and Marvin Foster, both from Hawaii, that has the surfing world reflecting upon the importance of gatherings like these and the role they play in honoring the past, respecting the present and looking forward to the future.
"It is the passing of these brothers that once again reminds us of the life and loss of Eddie," said Hawaiian Kahu Billy Mitchell, flanked by the Aikau family.
"But as we stand in this circle, we realize that this circle, like life, is a continuum of those who have gone on already, those who are here, and those young brave surfers yet to come."
"Whether the event happens or not, it doesn't matter because this is the most important part of it: the ceremony," said former Eddie winner Ross Clarke-Jones, "When the (contest) does happen, it's extraordinary, it takes it to another level, but this day is guaranteed to happen every year and we're here together again.
"Achieving the win was something I lived 14 years in the (Hawaiian) islands trying for. But it was a satisfaction point in my life that felt amazing. There's something so special about this Bay.
"This is my 25th Eddie, I'm 44 years old, and I feel like a kid again."
Photo Credit: Zak Noyle