Quiksilver announced the opening of the Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau, which runs from December 2, 2005 to February 28, 2006. Opening ceremonies for the event will be held on December 1st at 3 p.m. at Waimea Bay, on Oahu's famous North Shore. Honoring revered big wave surfer and lifeguard Eddie Aikau, The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau can only be held when the surf measures at least 20 feet high measured from the back. Twenty four of the world's greatest big wave surfers will be on-call during the holding period, and will only have a 12 hour window to report and register once the competition day is called. If an invitee is not able to compete or does not register, the next person on the alternate list will qualify to compete.

The unpredictable nature of The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau, as well as the respect paid to Aikau's memory, makes it one of the most exciting and anticipated events in professional surfing. Each year contest Director George Downing decides when to call the competition. If one full day of giant waves with favorable surface conditions does not occur during the holding period, the event gets postponed to the following year. Because of the stringent surf and condition requirements, The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau has only actually been held seven times in 20 years, with the most recent being Bruce Irons' 2004 win. Irons has been invited to defend his title against the world's best surfers, including Quiksilver team riders Mark Healey, Peter Mel, Paul Paterson, Titus Kinimaka; and former event champions Kelly Slater and Ross Clarke-Jones. Quiksilver team riders on the alternate list include Tom Carroll, Reef McIntosh and Anthony Tashnick.

“We are honored to announce the opening of The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau,” said Bob McKnight, CEO, Quiksilver. “This competition has always been very special to Quiksilver, and the surfing community at large, because of the honor it pays to Eddie Aikau. Eddie was a true soul surfer, one of the sport's legends who has inspired us all, and we are honored to bring the best big wave surfers together in his memory.”

Unlike most of today's big-wave events, The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau remains true to big-wave riding's roots and does not allow the use of personal water craft, such as jet-skis, to tow riders into waves. Competitors must paddle themselves into mountains of water under their own arm power, then successfully make the drop and ride the massive waves. Each of the 24 surfers competes in two rounds, either in four heats of six surfers or three heats of eight surfers. Each heat lasts between 45-60 minutes, and surfers are allowed to ride three to four waves. At the end of the one-day competition, the surfers' four best scores are used to calculate their total. Total prize money for the event is $86,800, with first place receiving $55,000, second place $10,000, third place $5,000, fourth place $3,000, fifth place $2,000, sixth place $1,000, and seventh through 24th each receiving $600.

“This is the event I look most forward to hanging out on the beach and watching,” said Kelly Slater, who recently earned his record-breaking seventh world surfing championship title at the Nova Schin Festival in Brazil. “It's a great gathering of everyone in the surf community. Eddie has been a symbol of strength and courage for many years and his contribution to surfing remains as strong as ever. Half of us participating in the event never even got a chance to meet him, but the event itself and just hearing his name gives us all more reason to charge and have fun. I am stoked to be a part of this once again.”

“To get two of the biggest and best waves of my life last year was a dream come true, and I was just stoked to be in it — never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd win it,” said Bruce Irons, the competition's defending champion. “This year I'm just hoping that we get waves big enough for the event to run. In the past there have been years that it didn't go, so just running it again would be fun, and I'm looking forward to participating in it again.”

Surfing legend Eddie Aikau was the North Shore's first full-time lifeguard, and earned the permanent guard chair at Waimea with a sterling reputation for his life-saving work.

In 1978, the voyaging canoe he was on capsized, leaving him and nine other crew members stranded 12 miles east of Lanai. Aikau swam off in a heroic attempt to find assistance but, tragically, was never heard from again, despite the most intensive air-sea search in Hawaiian maritime history. Today, Aikau's spirit continues to live on in the competition that honors his name, Quiksilver's “Waterman Award” for men and women who have used their skills and understanding of the sea to help enrich the lives of others, and the Eddie Aikau Boardriders Store at the International Marketplace in Waikiki, where patrons shop for equipment amidst a huge collection of pictures and memorabilia saved by his family.

The Quiksilver, Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau participants:

INVITEES: (In alphabetical order) ALTERNATES: (In seed order)

1. Clyde Aikau (Hawaii)           1. Mel Kinney (Hawaii)
2. Ross Clarke-Jones (Australia)  2. Tom Carroll (Australia)
3. Shane Dorian (Hawaii)          3. Ross Williams (Hawaii)
4. Keone Downing (Hawaii)         4. Kalani Chapman (Hawaii)
5. Sunny Garcia (Hawaii)          5. Reef McIntosh (Hawaii)
6. Mark Healey (Hawaii)           6. Garrett McNamara (Hawaii)
7. Michael Ho (Hawaii)            7. Braden Dias (Hawaii)
8. Andy Irons (Hawaii)            8. Gary Elkerton (Australia)
9. Bruce Irons (Hawaii)           9. Anthony Tashnick (California)
10. Noah Johnson (Hawaii)         10. Tony Moniz (Hawaii)
11. Brian Keaulana (Hawaii)       11. Derek Ho (Hawaii)
12. Rusty Keaulana (Hawaii)       12. Tom Curren (California)
13. Titus Kinimaka (Hawaii)       13. John Gomes (Hawaii)
14. Brock Little (Hawaii)         14. Keoni Watson (Hawaii)
15. Peter Mel (California)        15. Kala Alexander (Hawaii)
16. Jamie O'Brien (Hawaii)        16. Vetea David (Tahiti)
17. Myles Padaca (Hawaii)         17. Taylor Knox (California)
18. Paul Paterson (Australia)     18. Chava Greenlee (Hawaii)
19. Tony Ray (Australia)          19. Greg Long (California)
20. Makua Rothman (Hawaii)        20. Ken Collins (California)
21. Kelly Slater (Florida)        21. Ryan Rawson (Hawaii)
22. Jamie Sterling (Hawaii)       22. Carlos Burle (Brazil)
23. Pancho Sullivan (Hawaii)      23. Chris Malloy (California)
24. Darryl "Flea " Virostko       24. Zane Aikau (Hawaii)