The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is set to go for Wednesday, February 10. The event will feature 28 of the world's best big wave surfers in a battle royale style scoring. The draw for the WSL Big Wave Specialty Event in honor of the legendary Hawaiian waterman is a list stacked with living legends. And the first seven-man heat is sure to ignite the action from the start.
Heat 1 includes a former event winner and Big Wave World Champion Greg Long. Long, a native of Southern California, has won every prestigious big-wave event on the planet, including the Eddie the last time the event ran in 2009. The former WSL Big Wave World Champion most recently finished runner-up at the Todos Santos Challenge.
Long isn't the only former Eddie winner to hit the lineup in Heat 1. He'll be joined by 2000-2001 champion Ross Clarke-Jones. The 49-year-old big man from Australia has been chasing storms for decades. And while he's been towing in quite a bit of late, at the Eddie he will have to rely on the strength of his paddle if he hopes to claim a second event victory.
2015 Big Wave Award performance of the year winner Shane Dorian is also in Heat 1. Dorian has been a dominant player in the big-wave surfing arena since retiring from the world tour nearly a decade ago. This winter at Jaws on nearby Maui he's again set the bar with incredible performances. He made the Final at the first-ever Pe'ahi Challenge after nabbing one of the best Jaws rides in history before the event even started.
Chilean charger Ramon Navarro will travel from South America to the island of Oahu to compete in Heat 1. Navarro is currently ranked No. 12 on the Big Wave Tour having competed in the Quiksilver Ceremonial at his home break of Punta de Lobos. Navarro has been using his spare time to help protect the wave is in danger of destruction.
Kohl Christensen will surf in the Eddie for the second time in 2016. The big wave surfer first competed at the prestigious event in 2009 and has been invited back yearly since. Christensen won a big wave event at Nelscott Reef, Oregon back in 2010 and currently resides on the North Shore.
Australian Jamie Mitchell is arguably the world's best waterman. He's won every major paddling title, and is another dominant force on the big wave circuit, making it as far as the Semifinals in the Todos Santos Challenge. Mitchell too currently lives in Hawaii, but is known to frequent the West Coast whenever big swells arrive and has been a standout at Maverick's. Not surprisingly, he won the Paddle Award category for a wave caught at the California big wave spot last year.
Rounding out the first heat will be Oahu native and 2000 World Champion Sunny Garcia. Garcia is a six time winner of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, and will aim to add another prestigious event win to legacy at the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. Although the Hawaiian no longer competes on the Championship Tour, he completed his first Iron Man triathlon in 2015 and his fitness levels are on par with the best of the best.