- 26 February 2016 | Surfing
John John Florence has conquered the 2015/2016 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, in historical 45-to-60-foot surf, and occasional closeouts, at Waimea Bay. Brock's Swell - sent by the late Brock Little - raised the bar for human greatness.
Kelly Slater brought his giant black gun, and he was all smiles before paddling out into hell. It was really big out the back, and all invitees had 60 minutes to get the best waves.
Competitors could go to Round 2 with zero waves ridden. That's the beauty of "The Eddie" format. Riders only had to get a decent total on the leaderboard. That's four good waves.
The inside shore break rides are always a crowd favorite. Spectators love and it, and surfers did their best to touch land and greet fans. Sunny Garcia was one of the first to hit dry land in grand style.
Critical decision making, positioning, and stress management were the most important ingredients of Waimea Bay's magic formula. As a result, the event had its intense rides, massive wipeouts, committed drops, and white water air drops into the abyss.
"I was trouble getting out. I always like to get the first waves, just to get the nerves off. I was ready to go on the first minutes. It was a positioning game out there. We missed a few waves, but we got a couple. I am 50 this year, so I'm just enjoying the event and appreciating it. There's a good vibe here," said Ross-Clarke Jones.
Jamie O'Brien suffered one of the worst wipeouts of the contest but, soon after, recovering from the brutal beating, he was already focused on getting another bomb. Kala Alexander followed with an acrobatic free fall.
Clyde Aikau, 66 and the oldest athlete of the event, paddled out in the name of his brother. Once again, one last time. The Hawaiian legend adopted the classic, low wide stance, just like Eddie Aikau, to absorb the extra shock.
But the new generation of big wave riders is taking over. And John John Florence proved why he got the invitation. The young Pipeline Master stole the event with 301 out of 400 points.
"I was so nervous, I thought, 'oh gosh, I just gotta get through this day and hopefully get a couple of waves! I was riding my bike down here this morning in the dark and just the energy of how many people were parked all the way down the street. I've lived here my whole life and I've never seen it like that," expressed Florence.
"Walking down the beach, like Uncle Clyde was saying, people just screaming, and the energy was so crazy. I've never been a part of an event like this. It's definitely the highlight of my life for sure. I've only seen it run a couple of times in my life so to be a part of it, to be surfing in it, and to actually win it is such a dream come true."
All 28 surfers rode 141 waves. The 2015/2016 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau had 25,000 spectators on the beach and in the surroundings of Waimea Bay. The Hawaiian Water Patrol proved why they're the best among the best.
Eddie Aikau must be proud. This truly was a Big Wave Invitational. His legacy has never been more alive.
2015/2016 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau | Leaderboard
John John Florence (HAW) 301
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS) 278
Shane Dorian (HAW) 270
Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 249
Kelly Slater (USA) 238
Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 231
David Wassel (HAW) 230
Mason Ho (HAW) 191
Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 180
Aaron Gold (HAW) 139
Mark Healey (HAW) 133
Takayuki Wakita (HAW) 123
Koa Rothman (HAW) 117
Ian Walsh (HAW) 115
Reef McIntosh (HAW) 112
Grant Baker (ZAF) 109
Kohl Christensen (HAW) 109
Bruce Irons (HAW) 101
Ramon Navarro (CHL) 100
Danilo Couto (BRZ) 93
Clyde Aikau (HAW) 91
Nathan Fletcher (USA) 88
Sunny Garcia (HAW) 87
Peter Mel (USA) 86
Kala Alexander (HAW) 86
Greg Long (USA) 71
Tom Carroll (AUS) 67
Noah Johnson (USA)/Ben Wilkinson (AUS) 37