City, organizers prep for Eddie big-wave competition

City, organizers prep for Eddie big-wave competition
Crews preparing for the Eddie Aikau big-wave contest
Crews preparing for the Eddie Aikau big-wave contest
Crews preparing for the Eddie Aikau big-wave contest
Crews preparing for the Eddie Aikau big-wave contest

WAIMEA BAY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The waters at Waimea Bay on Tuesday were calm. But come Wednesday, forecasters expect a monster, consistent swell to come in, providing conditions just right for the Eddie Aikau big-wave contest.

"We've seen it. We know it's coming," said Jodi Wilmott, spokesperson for the Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay.

"It's going to be hitting the buoys soon. It looks absolutely beautiful. It's going to be a spectacular day and we're absolutely exited. Here at the Bay, it can go from flat to 40 feet in a matter of hours."

And tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the North Shore to take it all in.

Organizers and officials say their top priority is safely, so they talked at length Tuesday about what they're doing to make sure people know what to expect.

One key message: For those planning to head to Waimea, bring food and water, and plenty of patience. There won't be food available for purchase at Waimea Bay.

Ocean Safety officials are also geared up and ready. There will be at least nine lifeguards at the bay Wednesday and two more on Jet Skis in the water.

"Our primary role tomorrow is public safety," said Ocean Safety Capt. Vitor Marcel. "We gotta make sure that people stay off the rocks, stay up in the dry sand and just respect the ocean -- that folks come down to watch, have fun and go home safe."

Organizers called a "go" for the Eddie on Monday, and swung into high gear Tuesday to get ready for the biggest surf event of the season.

Crews were at Waimea Bay early Tuesday morning to start building a massive scaffolding, where the media and judges would sit to catch all of the action in the water. By the end of the day, the scaffolding was done. More impressive than the fact that the scaffolding was built in a day: At 35 feet, the structure still isn't an Eddie-sized wave.

The big crowds for the event will translate into big parking and traffic headaches.

The Waimea Bay Beach Park lot will be closed to the public Wednesday. Barricades will also be up to prevent people from parking along the shoulders of the bay.

Given the major congestion expected, organizers say the best place to watch might be from the comfort of your own home.

"You're going to have at least six different camera angles -- including live from the water, live from the air and then at least four or five on the beach," Wilmott said. "You're going to see multiple replays of every major ride, every major wipeout. This is a first class high-definition broadcast production."

And this year, for the first time ever, images will be uploaded within minutes of each surfer's ride from the water.

"My camera is in a water-housing. It's going to be transmitting the images to my iPhone, which I'll also have in the water and then I'll be able to send it out to Quicksilver's social media around the world," said official event photographer Zak Noyle.

Among the surfers he'll be working to capture is Bruce Irons, who won in 2004 and is one of a few to ever score a perfect 100 wave competing in the Eddie -- all while surfing on a borrowed board. Irons is one of just eight champions who've been crowned at the Eddie over the last 32 years.

"I don't know it has a lot to do with, I don't know -- each individual, Mother Nature and the flow and everything, the heats and if the waves are coming to you, then it's meant to be. So it's anyone's game," Irons said.

It's too soon to say when the first heat of surfers will be heading out, but organizers are hopeful the event will start around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

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