Six women have made history by competing in one of the world’s most epic big wave surfing events, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in Hawaii.
This year’s event marked the first-time (yes, the first time) women competed in The Eddie’s 39-year history, chasing monster waves that exceeded 50-foot at Waimea Bay.
The female invitees were made up of some of the world’s best professional surfers and local surfing legends. They surfed in front of a crowd of 60,000 people, with women competing alongside the men, not in separate fields.
The event was won by a local lifeguard from the North Shore of Oahu, 27-year-old Luke Shepardson, who beat out favorite John Florence. Keala Kenelly, one of the women taking part, is one of Hawaii’s most respected big wave surfers, and noted that competing in The Eddie was a dream come true and history in the making.
What is the Eddie?
The Eddie is in honor of Eddie Aikau, a legendary surfer from Hawaii and the first lifeguard on the North Shore of Oahu. Every competitor had the words ‘Eddie Would Go’ on the back of their jersey.
This year’s event marked the first time the event was held in 7 years, and only the 10th time in almost four decades it has taken place because it only goes ahead if the surf is more than 40-foot.
“I grew up with Andy and Bruce Irons, and we had amazing big-wave role models,” Kennelly stated. “But our ultimate hero was Eddie and this event, if you won The Eddie, you went to instant hero status. I remember being a little girl thinking, ‘I want to be a hero like that one day, but that probably can’t happen for me because I’m a woman. To actually be in here on this day and put on a jersey and paddle out … and now it’s not just me, I’ll be there with five of my other sisters, you’re watching history in the making.”
The Chosen Ones
Andrea Moller, Keala Kennelly, Justine Dupont, Emily Erickson, Makani Adric and Paige Alms were the six women who competed alongside 34 male invitees.
“I am humbled, honored, fired up!!! and extremely proud to represent Maui as one of 6 female invitees and 34 men. The first time the event has run that the women will surf alongside the guys! It is going to be an amazing day celebrating Eddie’s legacy, big wave surfing, and the amazing camaraderie of ocean athletes,” Paige Alms stated.