"Eddie would go." "Brock Little swell."
Those were just a few phrases that were whispered on the beach Thursday when competitors, organizers and beachgoers arrived at Waimea Bay. But the Bay, as they say, calls the day and call it did, delivering one of the greatest run of waves in the history of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau.
It was evident from the first heat that a special day at The Bay was about to unfold. Former event winner Ross Clarke-Jones and big-wave legend Shane Dorian elevated the energy with a couple monster scores.
The carnage really began in Heat 2, with a number of unsuccessful but courageous drops from Grant Baker and Jamie O'Brien. And the perennial competitor Kelly Slater looked eager to back up his previous victory at the event.
In the third heat of Round 1, the generational gap merged as Clyde Aikau, Eddie's brother, paddled out alongside tenured big wave charger Mark Healey and the youngest of the lot, John John Florence. Healey nabbed a giant score, John John took the lead, and Clyde got the crowd on their feet.
The effervescent crowd-pleaser Mason Ho joined the lineup in Heat 4, eager to prove his worthiness as an alternate in the event. Danilo Couto, meanwhile -- the event's only competitor from Brazil -- did his country proud on a giant wave.
By the end of Round 2, Heat 1 Shane Dorian held a strong lead, earning one of the highest scores of the day on a must-see party-wave with Jamie O'Brien.
Some are calling Heat 2 of the second round the heat of the day with jaw-dropping performances from former event winners Ross Clarke-Jones and Kelly Slater. Clarke-Jones dropped in for the highest single-wave score of the event, Slater paid homage to the recently passed Brock Little, and Jamie Mitchell scored two waves in the 80-plus point range. In other words: watch this heat.
The event leaderboard would switch again in Heat 3 of Round 2 with young gun John Florence making a serious debut at the Eddie. As did Mason Ho, who did his best to chase down his fellow North Shore neighbor. In one for the history books, Clyde Aikau also caught his last-ever wave at the event, dedicating his final ride to his older brother Eddie.
Have you ever seen two Big Wave World Champions on the same wave? Then you better watch this heat. Makaukai Rothman dominated for the majority, making a run at overtaking Florence's total. But despite getting run over in the first round, Rothman was willing to share a wave with BWT commissioner Peter Mel.