WAIMEA BEACH --
The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational draws big crowds on short
notice. The Eddie, as it is called, has no set date. It comes when
the 30-foot-plus waves come, anytime from Dec. 5 to 25, or
Last year, the
waves came on Dec. 15. The other contests were put on hold. These
waves were too dangerous for all but the very best. Thats the
criterion for The Eddie: dangerous waves.
spread the word. Some people knew the big ones had come when they
heard the thunder as the swells collapsed against the shore. More
than 5,000 people ditched work or school that day and headed for
Rows of cars lined the side of the road.
Most were pickup trucks, Volkswagen buses or ratty hatchbacks
bearing surf racks that probably cost more than the car.
People walked alongside the road, cup of coffee
in hand, toward the bay.
average-looking men were chosen to surf in six heats of five
surfers. They paddled out from the shore on their boards into waves
that, on that day, reached nearly 60 feet, the size of a six-story
building, and moved at speeds of 40 mph.
Most eyes were on
surfer Bruce Irons as he dropped straight off the lip of a curling
wave, an easy 30 feet, skipped over the water and flew through the
air, still on his surfboard.
He hit the water
about 40 feet down the wave and still had another 20 feet to carve
out a long bottom turn. At that point, the people on the beach were
on their feet.
Irons had surfed
one of the largest waves in tournament history and went home with
the $100,000 purse.
reporter Brian Berusch, send e-mail to [email protected].