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In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first running of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, Rip Curl is excited to announce its partnership with the iconic

big-wave event. Honoring the life and legacy of the great Hawaiian waterman, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational stands as the pinnacle of competitive big-wave surfing in the modern era.

Held at Waimea Bay, surrounded by the timeless Waimea Valley, the area holds tremendous cultural and historic significance for the Hawaiian people. And when it comes to the giant, winter surf and the running of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, as they say, “The Bay calls the day.”

“We are very proud to partner with a brand like Rip Curl. Everyone knows the brand and I know my brother, Eddie, would also be proud,” says Clyde Aikau, brother of Eddie Aikau.

“It is an incredible honour for Rip Curl to be a partner of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational,” said Brooke Farris, CEO Rip Curl. “This event is legendary, as are the big wave surfers who take on the giant waves of Waimea Bay. With our 55-year history of championing surfing events around the world, it is with great respect that we place our name alongside of Eddie Aikau, celebrating an incredible legacy and, supporting an event that means so much to the surfing community.”

“The Eddie Aikau Foundation Board of Directors are honored to welcome Rip Curl as a new sponsor for the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational events. We believe that the Rip Curl staff and executives understand the importance of our mission to perpetuate the legacy of Eddie Aikau and Hawaiian culture,” adds Linda Ipsen, President of the Eddie Aikau Foundation.

Established in memory of the late Aikau, a Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard, first run in 1984, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational requires a full day of consistent 25-foot surf to be called on. Because of its commitment to running in only the heaviest Hawaiian conditions, the event has only been run ten times in 40 years. The unique format features an exclusive invite list of 40 surfers who are decided upon by the Aikau family at the start of every winter season in Hawaii. There are an additional 23 alternate surfers also invited.

The last running of the event in 2023 saw North Shore lifeguard Luke Shepardson take the win in legendary fashion. In a full-circle moment, Shepardson had been scheduled to work the lifeguard tower at Waimea the day of the Eddie and took breaks during his shift to go surf his heats.

Eventually he went on to win the contest in front of nearly 50,000 fired up fans on the beach, as well as an online audience of an estimated 3.5 million. Luke had to go back to work after surfing in his final heat. When the awards were announced, Luke was called down from the lifeguard tower to the winners stage and receive his first place.

Other previous winners of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational include 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater, two-time World Champion John John Florence, as well as big-wave icons Greg Long and Bruce Irons and the first ever winner of the Eddie, Clyde Aikau.

Born in Kahului, Maui, in 1946, by the time Aikau was a teenager he was working at the Dole cannery on Oahu and quickly asserting himself amongst the North Shore’s iconic lineups. In 1969, he was hired by the City & County of Honolulu as the first lifeguard on the North Shore. No motorized watercraft were used for rescues, only a surfboard and fins.  Hundreds of people were rescued while Eddie was a lifeguard and no lives were lost.

The Aikau Family lineage is traced from the 1800’s to the Hawaiian Priest, Kahunanui Hewahewa, who was the manager & caretaker of the entire Waimea Valley and its beautiful beach and surf.

“Before Eddie Aikau was the king of Waimea, he was the king of Sunset,” describes Rip Curl’s Mason Ho, who’s father Michael Ho grew up in the water alongside Aikau.

A lifelong advocate for Hawaii’s culture and people, on March 16,1978, Aikau set out on the Hōkūle‘a, a 60ft traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe, with a crew of fellow Hawaiian sailors. The vessel set sail from Oahu on a 30-day, 2,500-mile voyage that was intended to travel to Tahiti and illustrate how Polynesians were able to traverse the wide, expansive openness of the Pacific Ocean.

As the Hōkūle‘a passed by the island of Molokaʻi, one of the hulls began to leak and the boat capsized. Aikau famously set off on his surfboard to paddle for help. The crew was eventually rescued, but tragically, Aikau was never seen again. Among his exploits in the surf, it’s this selflessness and dedication to his crew Hawaiian members that has helped foster the Aikau legend.

“The Eddie honors the remarkable character and values displayed by Eddie Aikau during his career as a heroic lifeguard, Big Wave surfer and crew member of the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hokule’a. Our partnership with Rip Curl, an international organization, will give us the opportunity to share the Aloha Spirit that Eddie Aikau exemplified, with a worldwide audience,” continues Ipsen.

Stay tuned for more details about the upcoming Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational as Rip Curl and the Aikau family are excited to usher this iconic event into a new era.