Surf Contests, surf industry newsCould The Eddie Still Go? 

-Words by Mat Arney, images by WSL/Tom Servais & film by KHON2

Following weeks of speculation and rumours, it was announced on Saturday October 29th that the partnership between the Aikau family and Quiksilver had officially ended, and with it any significant chance of the Eddie running over the winter of 2016/17 should a suitable swell appear on the charts.

2016’s event, won by now-World Champion John John Florence, was the ninth out of a possible 31 in the Eddie’s illustrious history as the light only ever goes green on the event in the big wave world when conditions are deemed worthy (solid twenty foot wave height, Hawaiian, meaning 40-50 foot wave faces). Since the first memorial contest was held in memory of legendary Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau in 1985, Quiksilver have been the event sponsor and claimed the naming rights. Following the conclusion of the last event in February 2016, however, the relationship between the Aikau family, Quiksilver and the WSL was up for renewal and after extensive talks to secure the future of the event in its current form there was a “communications breakdown” and those involved parted ways.

Hawaiian television station KHON2 broke the news following an official announcement by the Aikau’s family friend and attorney Seth Reiss at an awards luncheon for the Eddie Aikau Foundation essay contest for public and private school students:

“The contest reminds us of Eddie, of (Waimea) Bay, of surfing, and of Hawaiian culture. The family is proud of the event and appreciated the role Quiksilver played. That relationship ended earlier this year. There were substantial discussions between the family and Quiksilver about how the relationship could be continued, but in the end, no agreement was reached.”

The Aikau family have stated that money was not a major issue in the breakdown of the relationship citing instead proposed changes to the condition requirements needed to hold the event amongst other things. A statement released by Quiksilver the following Monday wasted no time however in stating that the surfwear giant had made “multiple offers of substantially increased monetary support for future events” which were declined by the new representatives managing the event for the Aikaus, and the company’s spokesmen highlighted the losses incurred by Quiksilver when the contest was called off at short notice in 2015.

As it stands, the Aikau family intend to continue to hold invitational big wave memorial contests at Waimea Bay, however the permit granted by the City of Honolulu for this coming winter was for the “Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau” and that is the only banner under which a contest can go ahead this winter, as applications for permits closed in 2015.

“We certainly understand how important ‘The Eddie’ is to the people of Honolulu, and the state and the world, because it is such an iconic event. … We have met with Clyde (Eddie’s brother), we have looked at it from every angle, and for the 2016-2017 season, the permit process has closed. It was closed in 2015.”
Georgette Deemer ,City of Honolulu Deputy Managing Director

Quiksilver’s statement of Monday 31st October swiftly batted the ball back into the Aikau’s court, offering to give the Aikau’s their permit and run the event with them, “As a gesture of our respect and support”, should the City of Honolulu allow it.

Permit transfers are prohibited, however.

“That said, with all the parties willing to come together, city attorneys are working to find a way to move forward so the Eddie can Go this year.” Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell told KHON2 following a press conference on Monday, “Eddie Aikau was known as a person who could settle disputes between diverse parties. In his honor, we are committed to bringing everyone together to ho‘oponopono and work towards finding a solution for this world class contest that unites all of Hawaii.”

For surfing’s sake, let’s hope that an agreement can be reached before winter begins in earnest on the North Shore.

To keep up to date with developments and to read full statements from all parties involved, please click over to KHON2’s article coverage.