Greg Long (USA), 2009 Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Champion

December 8, 2009 was a legendary day in surfing history as the 25th Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau took place in Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Hawaii in 40-50-foot swells. California’s Greg Long, 26, busted out a late final heat ride of the day to win the $55,000 winner’s purse and the glory among all big-wave surfers as winner of the Eddie.

For newbies to surfing, the Eddie Aikau is named in tribute to a big-wave Hawaiian surfer who lost his life trying to save others as he paddled to get help for his crew. Since then, there’s a declared “waiting period” on the North Shore of Oahu in the winter in anticipation that 20 foot waves will roll through an area called Waimea Bay which only breaks if the surf is huge. With the massive storms we’ve been getting on the Mainland, and big swells ripping through the Hawaiian Islands, many surfers who were not already on the North Shore for the Vans Triple Crown series, made the pilgrimage to Waimea Bay as rumors swirled that the Eddie would be a reality. It’d been 5 years since the last big-wave epic took place, which luckily we were there to see as Bruce Irons claimed the winning score.

Yesterday however, some 50,000 people packed the natural amphitheatre of Waimea to witness the big-wave event which in the last 48 hours was the largest sustaining episode of massive surf to hit the Hawaiian Islands in 40 years.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Greg Long in the winner’s area. “Riding big waves is my passion and I’ve been following The Eddie since I knew exactly what it was, I was probably 12-years-old just getting into surfing. Since then, I’ve had every single poster from Brock Little to Bruce Irons on my wall. I look to those guys for inspiration and to be standing up here with Sunny (Garcia) and Kelly Slater is a dream come true for me. I never would have thought that this is my first year surfing the event and to come away with a victory is really a childhood dream become real.

“I’m still standing here in awe and I want to go check the scores to make sure someone isn’t going to come here and take this away.

“It really is about the wave and celebrating the ocean. It’s what we do: go out there and ride big waves. The respect and camaraderie in the lineup you don’t find in too many places in the world, and this event really encapsulates everything that’s great about surfing: the friendships you make in the water and looking out for one another.”

Kohl Christensen on a ride he will never forget.
Credit: Cestari/ASP

The Monster Drop Award presented by Monster Energy Drink which goes to the most hellacious-but-successful takeoff of the contest when to Ramon Navarro who also came in 5th overall. Unbelievably, Ramon landed this massive drop on his backend and then stuck the landing and road the wave all the way to the beach for a perfect 100 points.

Coming in 2nd was Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia in 3rd, and Bruce Irons in 4th.

Silvana Lima (BRA), 25, was dominant on the opening day of the Billabong Pro Maui presented by Hawaiian Airlines, securing a perfect 10-point ride in Round 3.

Meanwhile, the Vans Triple Crown of surfing was continuing to take place in other parts of the Hawaiian Islands with the women’s Billabong Pro in Maui. On the first day of the women’s event, ASP Women’s World Champ Stephanie Gilmore, Silvana Lima, and Melanie Bartels, Coco Ho, and Sally Fitzgibbons, who at only 18, made her first final at Sunset Beach a few weeks ago, were among the leaders that took things to the next level in pumping surf.

Stay tuned for more from the remaining of the Vans Triple Crown as events continue throughout the week including the finals of the Billabong Pro for women in Maui and the Billabong Pipeline for men in Oahu.