The First Eddie…At Sunset?

Original Eddie was just the lemon next to the pie

Eddie Aikau made his mark at Sunset Beach before Waimea, so maybe there's a kind of poetic justice in that the first and totally unremembered Eddie Aikau Invitational, sponsored by Quiksilver, was held at Sunset. The waves were okay, not great. Northwest swell, dropping throughout the day, some funky tradewind bump in the afternoon. In the final, local boy Denton Miyamura took out Marvin Foster, Hans Hedemann and both Ho brothers, and pocketed $5,000—which sounds like peanuts till you find out that Dane Kealoha earned a flimsy $1,000 for his Duke Classic win two weeks later. Top pros in 1984 were basically one missed paycheck away from selling pencils on Kam Highway.

Anyway, it would have been nice if the surf had pumped for Denton and the boys that afternoon, but it didn't, which meant the photographers were busy viciously ignoring each other instead of shooting the action, which meant there were no photos for the article, which meant the Eddie Invitational pulled down two half-assed paragraphs in the back of SURFER and nothing at all in Surfing.

Quik marketers flew back to Costa Mesa and took stock. Realized right away that the world apparently did not need another off-the-shelf pro event at Sunset Beach. Huddled up that summer with George Downing and Eddie Rothman. And eureka! They roared back to Hawaii the following winter with a contest idea of Einstein-level genius—a Waimea Bay, one day only, huge-or-nothing big-wave throwdown.

You know the rest. Brother Clyde won the contest, 18-year-old rookie charger Brock Little made his bones, Roger Erikson copped the year's best wipeout, and SURFER did a last-minute switcharoo to get the Eddie contest on the cover. And so it went, into our brave big-wave future: Keone, Bruce, Noah, Kelly, Healey, Long, all giving of their best in what were often Deathstar Waimea conditions, and thus elevating the Quiksilver into an event that we've held near and dear for over 30 years.

I'm not totally sure that we can credit that definitively middling 1984 Eddie Aikau Invitational for prodding Quik execs to develop a nobler and grander event — something to terrify and inspire, something worthy of the man they set out to honor. But why not? Let's go with that.

The 2015/2016 Invite List is below:

Aaron Gold
Albee Layer
Bruce Irons
Clyde Aikau
Dave Wassel
Garrett McNamara
Grant Baker
Greg Long
Ian Walsh
Jamie Mitchell
Jamie O’Brien
Jeremy Flores
John John Florence
Kala Alexander
Kelly Slater
Kohl Christensen
Makua Rothman
Mark Healey
Nathan Fletcher
Noah Johnson
Peter Mel
Ramon Navarro
Reef McIntosh
Ross Clarke-Jones
Shane Dorian
Sunny Garcia
Takayuki Wakita
Tom Carroll

ALTERNATES:

Mason Ho
Danilo Couto
Mark Matthews
Koa Rothman
Ben Wilkinson
Jamie Sterling
Billy Kemper
Shawn Dollar
Carlos Burle
Kealii Mamala
Gabriel Villaran
Michael Ho
Kai Lenny
Kahea Hart
Nathan Florence
Damien Hobgood
Kalani Chapman
Ryan Hipwood
Danny Fuller
Nic Lamb
Anthony Tashnick
Rusty Long
Derek Dunfee
Brock Little