Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii (Vocus) January 12, 2008
In one of the most epic winter weeks for surf from the Hawaiian Islands to the coast of California, organizers of the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau, the world's original big-wave surf competition held at Waimea Bay, Hawaii, have placed the event on high alert to possibly run tomorrow, Sunday, January 13.
The paddle-in only event requires a minimum swell height of 20 feet Hawaiian scale, which translates to wave face heights of 40+ feet.
The swell bringing waves to California today, passed through Hawaii on Wednesday and Thursday with wave faces in the 25-30 foot range. The new swell arriving tomorrow in Hawaii is forecast to go higher.
Some of the surfers competing at Mavericks today have already booked last minute flights to Hawaii tonight and are awaiting the official contest call, hoping to ride the next giant swell to sweep through the Pacific. Those surfers include Peter Mel, Ross Clarke-Jones, Brock Little, Anthony Tashnick and Garrett McNamara.
The absence of Buoy 51001 will make the job of calling the event even more difficult, given that there will be no short-range, reliable data to draw from. Buoy 51001, located 170 nautical miles northwest of the Hawaiian Islands, typically provides accurate measurement of the swell height 10 hours prior to it hitting the North Shore of Oahu. In the past, this has been an important barometer for the event. Without it, there will be no "looking glass" for what's to come and contest officials must rely more heavily on local knowledge and experience.
The waves will be big, but will they be big enough?
The Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau is in its 24th year and is the longest-standing big wave event in the world, held each winter in honor of pioneering big-wave rider and Waimea Bay's first lifeguard, Eddie Aikau. Aikau, an indigenous Hawaiian, was one of the top big-wave and professional surfers in the world when he tragically went missing at sea in 1978, during a voyage to Tahiti aboard the Hokule'a sailing canoe. His life is now legend.
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