Among the most legendary competitors to participate in the event is Clyde Aikau, brother of the event's namesake and winner of the 1986-1987 waiting period. At age 66, Aikau will be the oldest surfer in the lineup of all 28 set to compete. The younger brother of Eddie Aikau, the event undoubtedly holds special meaning to the North Shore local as the sole representative of the Aikau family in the contest.
Aikau will not be the only former event winner to participate in Heat 3, fellow Hawaiian Noah Johnson (1999 winner) will also paddle out at Waimea Bay. Until Johnson won the event in 1999 he was known only among the closely tied North Shore surfing community, but his breakthrough performance at the Eddie launched him into the big wave surfing arena, earning a great deal of respect far beyond Oahu's seven-mile miracle.
Joining the previous event winner is hometown hero John John Florence, the youngest surfer invited to the prestigious event. Florence has been scoring waves at Waimea Bay throughout the winter. Not often thought of as a big wave charger, the progressive Championship Tour surfer relishes in the opportunity to challenge himself in bigger waves. On a lay day during the 2014 CT event in Portugal, Florence took on some big waves with WSL BWT Commissioner Peter Mel.
Coincidentally, Mel will join Florence again in a big wave surf session, this time in a jersey for Heat 3 of the event. On top of being a former Big Wave World Champion, Mel is the current WSL Big Wave Tour commissioner and WSL commentator. He recently put the microphone down and joined his fellow big wave comrades for a session at Maverick's.
Big Wave Tour surfer Nathan Fletcher will be taking on his commissioner in Round 1. Fletcher, 41, is originally from San Clemente, California, but now resides in Haleiwa when he's not chasing massive swells around the world. He earned a 3rd place at the Punta Galea Challenge in Spain last season, which helped him land a spot on the Big Wave Tour for 2015/2016.
Hawaii raised Mark Healey will also be adding his skills to the fray in Heat 3 of Round 1. Healey has long proved his skills in the lineups of the North Shore. When not surfing, Healey has a reputation as a serious waterman likening him to Aikau. He has surfed in all three Big Wave Tour events completed this season.
The last surfer to fill out the roster in Heat 3 is Japan's Takayuki Wakita. Wakita cut his teeth on the North Shore under the tutelage of Liam McNamara. He is the only surfer from Japan in the event.