This was the biggest batch of waves ever surfed during the Aikau, and among the cleanest-- about 30 guys paddled into over 140 of them. Waimea Beach filled up at 3 AM, and the North Shore was gridlock by 6 AM. I spent most of the day in our familyroom parked in front of my monitor watching the live feed from the Quiksilver site. And I spent most of that time on the edge of hyperventilation, with occasional involuntary comments reacting to a particular takeoff or wipeout.
My "favorite" part of the contest (because it was totally unexpected) was the 60-foot bay-wide closeout wave that chased all six jet ski crews literally onto the beach. They were running flat-out and still barely staying ahead of the 10-foot-high wall of white water. And then the beach crowd hustled to turn them around so that they could go take care of the seven guys who'd just been wiped out.
My second-favorite part was watching Slater turn left on his last wave of his heat ("No, no, aaaaaaugh!") on an 8'6" because he thought he could get tubed. Apparently it never occurred to him that he'd have to get back out... or maybe he never thought he could get crushed. It was the closest he came to taking the lead. And then John John topped his earlier best wave by more than 20 points with that white-water ride, and the contest was over before the last heat even paddled out.
For those wanting to learn more about Eddie, here's a short summary:
The¬*Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau 2015-2016 - Who is Eddie?¬* | Quiksilver
I know it doesn't make much sense that Eddie left Hokulea's capsizing to paddle to the nearest island. "Don't leave the boat", "stay together", "search & rescue", blah blah blah. But the fact was that the crew had been in the water long beyond the point where they expected rescue, and Eddie's water skills were so legendary even then that the captain of the crew was convinced to let him paddle on. I'm not sure that the captain felt he had much authority over Eddie's decision (Eddie was sort of allergic to authority), but nearly 40 years later he still regrets it.
I strongly recommend Stuart Coleman's excellent biography. (Eddie Would Go - Stuart Holmes Coleman | Stuart Holmes Coleman
) He had full cooperation from the family, especially Clyde, and did a thorough job. Eddie's life was a metaphor for the 1970s Hawaiian renaissance, and the book shares important insights about Hawaii culture that can't be found at a visitor luau.
Originally Posted by HadEnuff
Eddie's brother Clyde...66 years old....
The technical term for what happened is "fin release". The wave builds up so quickly that it sucks water back off the reef, and as it builds it can actually pull that water even further back behind the board. As Clyde stood up, the water around the tail of his board literally moved back a few inches (or slowed down relative to his takeoff velocity, same effect) and exposed too much fin surface to the air. You saw his feet wobble as the fins broke free and the rail lost its purchase on the wall.
The worst part is that these guys know it can happen, they deal with it all the time, and there's little they can do about it. He was cartwheeling down that wave like a bowling ball bouncing on a four-lane highway at 40 MPH. Tom Curran broke his tibia in 2009 on a similar wipeout.
That video doesn't show what Clyde did next. When the jetski crew raced over to rescue him, he waved them off. ("Eh, thanks brah, no need.") He paddled himself out of the impact zone, circled back around to the lineup, staked out his position, and took his next wave there for an eminently respectable 21 points. And then his next wave topped that with a 39.
Note that John John Florence is the youngest winner of the Aikau at age 23... Clyde's old enough to be his grandfather.
Clyde mentioned during an interview that he'd been exercising every day with three-mile runs or Brian Keaulana's trademarked lifeguard workouts. Clyde's 11 years older than me, and it's clear that I have some work to do.