HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Was your Internet connection downright sluggish on Thursday? You can probably blame it on the Eddie big-wave contest.
Thousands of Hawaii office workers who couldn't make it to Waimea Bay for the elite surfing invitational watched the event live online from their cubicles. And that put a huge strain on Hawaii's internet service, IT experts said.
"So the big joke today is Eddie went, and so did the bandwidth in Hawaii," said Yasuo Ogawa, founder of Cowabunga! Computers.
"What that means is the capacity of the Internet substantially shrunk to the point where a lot of offices were inefficient, a lot of offices were sending out memoranda asking people not to stream the Eddie," Ogawa said.
Ogawa said he sent half his staff home because they need internet connectivity to do work -- and they couldn't get good enough connections in the office.
One of Cowabunga's clients told its staff members, "Please avoid the use of streaming video for non-company business purposes (e.g. watching streaming video of The Eddie Aikau Memorial surf contest)."
Hawaii News Now wasn't immune. The station's IT manager sent an email to staff about noon that read, "For those of you watching the Eddie ... please stop."
Hawaiian Telcom said it saw significantly more Internet traffic Thursday.
"We have received a handful of customer calls reporting intermittent latency or delays depending on what they are trying to do on the Internet, particularly if they are accessing sites outside of Hawaii," the company said in a statement.
Ogawa said the issue boils down to capacity.
"The internet has limited capacity and when everyone is streaming, it requires a lot of bandwidth, and the bandwidth is just being sucked up by every house, every office, every desk, every computer turned on," he said.
At Cowabunga, the internet crashed about 9:15 a.m., just over an hour after the event started.
"I'm glad that the Eddie went, but so did our internet," he said. "This is the day the Eddie took down the Internet."
Schools also grappled with Eddie-mania Thursday.
At Damien Memorial School, teachers locked bathroom doors so students couldn't sneak in and watch the surf contest on their smartphones. And University of Hawaii students complained of slow wi-fi as thousands jumped on the Internet to watch the surfers compete.