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Eddie Aikau Tournament surfer

After not running since 2009, the 2016 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau finally got underway at Waimea Bay yesterday. The most prestigious surfing contest in the world requires waves to be a minimum of 20ft Hawaiian Scale (40 foot faces). The waves were huge. Clyde Aikau, brother of Eddie Aikau said it was the biggest Waimea he had seen in 40 years. 25-35 ft sets (50-70ft faces) closed out Waimea Bay and many waves were not rideable. Even the Hawaiian water patrol, who ride water skis to ensure the safety of each competitor, were dodging massive close out sets and b-lining back to the safety of the shore. 30,000+ people watched the best big wave surfers in the world put their lives at risk and saw 23 year old Hawaii born John John Florence win the $75,000 first place prize. If you’re lucky enough to be in town when they run the Eddie, you need to go check it out. As everyone says, “Eddie Would Go”.

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One of the first waves caught in the 2016 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

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Contestants scrambling to get over the huge Waimea wall.

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There were many close out sets keeping competitors on their toes. This is a bad place to be at Waimea.

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Eddie Aikau’s 66 year old brother Clyde Aikau dropping in on a bomb. No typo here. He’s 66 years young.

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Out running a Waimea freight train.

The largest Waimea in 40 years.

Fan favorite Kelly Slater making the drop look easy.

Easily one of the largest waves ridden this day.

30,000 people crammed into the Bay. You were lucky if you could find a parking spot 2 miles away at 5am.

All photos courtesy of Salty Glass