North Shore. The longing of all surfers. All those who love golden beaches. Birthplace of Jack Johnson. Venue of many surf competitions like the "Vans Triple Crown of Surfing" or the "Eddie".
The Aloha spirit is most noticeable here.
Even if my mood is not at its peak, the North Shore gets me every time. As the name suggests, the North Shore is located in the north of Oahu. Nowhere is the density of surf spots greater. It's nine miles on Kamehameha Highway from Haleiwa to Sunset Beach, the eastern tip of the North Shore. Nine miles of the same picture: on one side the gently sloping green flanks of the Koolau Range, on the other side the beach, white as a sheet, lined with palm trees, surrounded by waves. Each of these spots has its own characteristics. It is impossible for a surfer not to find the right one here. Haleiwa, "the worlds famous surf capital of the world" with its 2,500 inhabitants is a tiny hippie village not far from the dream beaches, where waves up to 20 meters high break in winter. The surf elite meet at Haleiwa Market Place to enjoy Mexican nachos or tacos at Cholos and sip a mocha freeze at Coffeine. By the way, the best iced coffee you can get on the island. Even the opening hours of the surf stores show that the clock ticks differently here. During "high surf" they often remain completely closed. I fall for my weakness for Hawaii souvenirs and buy a "Eddie Aikau" T-shirt from Quicksilver out of sheer conviction.
Eddie Aikau - The Legend!
Eddie Aikau was a famous lifeguard in the early 1970s and Big wave surfer at the legendary Waimea Bay. He was born on Maui on May 4, 1946, and moved with his family to Oahu as a child in 1959 because working conditions were better for his father. As a 22-year-old lifeguard he saved the lives of 500 people. He was the first to adhere to the 30 Feet waves dared to go near. No matter how much the ocean raged, Eddie always went out.
In 1978, the Polynesian Voyaging Society conducted a repeat research voyage along an ancient Polynesian migration route between the islands of Hawaii and Tahiti. For the thirty-day, 2500-mile (4000-km) voyage, the society sought volunteers and Aikau signed on as a crew member. The research vessel Hōkūlea left the Hawaiian Islands on March 16, 1978, and the twin-hulled canoe sprung a leak in one of the hulls and capsized about twelve miles south of Molokai Island. Aikau tried to get help and paddled his surfboard towards Lānai. He was never seen again. The following search was the largest aerial search in Hawaiian history.
The Eddie Aikau Contest
After his death on the ocean 1978 his brother Clyde organized the "Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau-Contest." where the world elite around Kelly Slater pays homage to the legend. However, this contest only takes place when the waves are Reach at least 30 feet. Just in time for the Eddie season from the beginning of December to the end of February, "Eddie would go" stickers adorn the cars of the locals and their own Quicksilver collections the well-trained tanned torsos. Mine, too. However, it rather belongs to the category of the pale untrained.
"Eddie went" souvenirs, on the other hand, are only available if the contest has also taken place.
Since the first edition on Sunset Beach In 1985, Eddie Aikau's younger brother Clyde Aikau once won the competition in 1987 when the "Eddie" was first held in Waimea Bay. In February 2016, waves reached 30 to 50 ft (15 m). Only 28 big-wave surfers are invited to the competition for two rounds of competition.
The slogan was created during the first "Eddie Contest". The waves were high and the conditions extremely dangerous. While the organizers were discussing whether the contest could take place, surfer Mark Foo commented "Eddie would go". The phrase remained and the "Eddie" ran.
When "The Eddie" calls
In summer, the ocean around Hawaii shows its calm side. As already suspected, the waves are "like a pancake", as a surf store owner tells me. I steer my rental car into the parking bay of Waimea Bay and, because everything is always booked up, treat myself to the handicapped parking space. The jump from the 8 meter high lava rock into the green-blue water is a pleasure. Slowly I get a guilty conscience because of my car, because in America they like to tow. The car is still standing. But there is a ticket on the windshield. I expect 50 $ and can't believe my eyes when I pull the ticket for 260 $ out of the windshield wiper. The meadow would have cost me 35 $. You never stop learning.
On my first trip with Yvonne we choose the turn of the year 2011/2012 as travel time. About the website surfnewsnetwork.com I learn daily surf conditions.
For our departure day to Big Island, 20 to 30 foot waves are predicted. I decide without further ado to rebook the flight for a hefty fee and we set off early in the morning on the 1-hour drive from Kailua to the North Shore. The obligatory traffic ticket above the legendary Waimea Bay is of little concern to me on this day. It's hazy and the Surfelite has long been rocking far out in the waves. Unfortunately the conditions are not quite enough to let the "Eddie" take place, in the early morning hours it has been cancelled. Nevertheless, we see the biggest waves of the season. The "face" of the wave, the erect front, measures about 10 meters today.
The Kamehameha Highway is already lined with cars and trucks at 8:30 a.m.; professional photographers with huge lenses and onlookers cavort on the road. With my 300mm zoom I don't get far here. Nevertheless, I manage a few decent shots. Jet skis are out in the water fishing the fallen surfers out of the water after their "wipe-outs", even a helicopter circles over the bay to shoot photos for surf magazines or to shoot footage and trailers for companies like Quicksilver. For the big wave surfers Waimea Bay unconditional devotion. They live for that one perfect ride, sitting on their boards for countless hours, studying the swells, currents and pitfalls of the Pacific. They get up with the waves and go to bed with them.
This time the contest did not take place and yet for me an unforgettable experience, with many photos I want to share with you!
Photos (c) Florian Krauss