With more than a week left to go in January, the 2015/16 Big Wave season is already entering the "best ever" conversation and there's no sign of the Pacific going quiet. As of Friday afternoon, January 22, there's another monster set of swells marching toward Hawaii and the West Coast, putting the big-wave riding community on high alert.
Officials for the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau have a close eye on this swell, understanding well that if they can't find an excuse to run the renowned event this winter, it could be years before it goes again. While no official word has gone out, as of the publishing of this post, rumors of a Wednesday or Thursday run are circulating amid back channels.
Meanwhile, back on Maui, where big-wave history is being revised weekly, surfers are bracing for another round of action. "Guys here are already calling this the 'winter of winters,'" says Brad Domke, who's been enjoying his first season on the valley isle. "I think everyone realizes this is a once-in-a-generation type of season."
Indeed, Jaws has been the focal point of big wave breakthroughs, beginning with the incredible debut running of the Pe'ahi Challenge in early December, and followed by epic conditions on January 15, for now, lovingly referred to as the "Day of Days."
Aaron Gold's massive paddle-in drop earned most of the headlines, but when the haze cleared and all the RED footage was rendered it became clear his ride wasn't the only history maker.
In the wake of each swell traveling from Hawaii to California, the WSL Big Wave Award submissions come flooding in. Whether it's Garrett McNamara's agony of defeat at Maverick's, or Shane Dorian's ridiculous Jaws drop, there's no shortage of huge moments. "Since January 1, I've never seen this volume of entries in the history of the event," says Bill Sharp, the Big Wave Award's general manager.
According to Sharp, what's separating this El Niño season from all those of the past is the conditions accompanying the swell. "For those who remember 97/98, 82/83, and even the legendary stuff of 1969, each of those came with a ton of really bad weather, both on Hawaii and in California. But this winter the storms have been staying away from shore, and we're getting perfectly clean conditions. That's what makes this the best winter we've ever seen, and there's still two months to go!"
See more on the official Surfline forecast for the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event.