By: Mary Simms
(KHNL) - Eddie Aikau is a legend among surfers around the world, but he's probably no where more loved than in his home on the North Shore of Oahu. Braving surf 20 feet and higher, he's the inspiration for the Eddie Akiau Quicksilver Invitational.
The invitational isn't held every year. In fact, since its inception in 1984 the tournament has only been held seven times, due to a precondition that there be waves at least 20 feet high at Waimea bay, where the tournament is held. December 2004 was the most recent tournament, with waves in the bay reaching 30 to 50 feet. After 4 years of waiting, organizers thought may have finally come.
You've seen the bumper stickers. You know "Eddie" would go, but would you?
"I would like to, laughed Martin Hartel, a tourist visiting from Austria. "But, I'm scared. No, I'm just a beginner."
The waves draw a lot of spectators, but onlookers aren't enough to hold the competition. For that, organizers need waves in excess of 20 feet for a full 8 hours of surfing.
Liam McNamara thinks this surf is overrated.
"Its the surf reports," said McNamara. "That, and probably all the concierges are telling all the tourists, 'The waves are huge out on the North Shore, come out.' And it does cause a lot of traffic. The tourists think the waves are going to be 40 or 50 feet and they're only maybe 15 or 20 feet."
Even 15 to 20 feet is still impressive to most.
"Its huge, said Tara Whitney, a Southren California Tourist. "It looks like its fake, like a movie or produced or something."
Not everyone appreciates the big surf.
"It does cause a lot of congestion," said McNamara. "I really don't think the big waves really help my business. A lot of the people that do come out here to see the big waves are just driving out to look at the waves and maybe have lunch."
McNamara hasn't seen an increase, but next door the waves are bringing in business.
Business is really really popping when we have good waves," said Haley Baldwin, a server at a North Shore Restaurant. "Everybody comes out.
The tourists come out to see the waves, but most don't go in