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Waves ahoy

The Eddie Aikau surf meet has a good chance of being held today on Oahu's North Shore

By Rosemarie Bernardo

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:50 p.m. HST, Jan 20, 2011


The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau could go.

Officials of the big-wave surfing contest said yesterday there was a 60 percent chance that the meet would kick off today. Reports from a buoy about 200 miles northwest of Kauai were to be monitored hourly throughout the night.

The Event

Subject to surf conditions, the Eddie Aikau big wave contest may go from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Getting There

Take TheBus or shuttles to Waimea Bay:
» Limited free public parking at Turtle Bay Resort with free shuttle.
» Free public parking and bus service from Mililani Park and Ride, and Haleiwa Alii, Haleiwa and Kaiaka beach parks.
» No public parking at Waimea Bay Beach Park or alongside Kamehameha Highway near the park. No-parking areas and tow-away zones will be strictly enforced.
» Avoid driving, and instead use bicycles, or walk.
» Sample Google Transit itinerary from Ala Moana Center to Waimea Bay: bit.ly/wouldgo.

Can't Go?

The contest will be broadcast live on KWHE-TV 14-Oceanic Cable 11, Oceanic Digital Channels 1250 and 250, and online at www.quiksilver.com.
An announcement of the decision was to be made this morning.

"The direction of the swell that we're getting from the data of the buoy report is perfect for Waimea," event spokeswoman Jodi Young Wilmott said yesterday afternoon. Organizers are keeping an eye out for a steady incremental rise in the swell instead of sharp peaks and drops. The ideal wave size is 20 feet.

If the event is held, it will be the ninth Eddie Aikau surf event since 1985, the first year. The last competition was held in December 2009. Aikau, Waimea Bay's first lifeguard and a widely known big-wave surfer, disappeared on March 16, 1978, when he paddled for help on a surfboard after the voyaging canoe Hokule'a capsized in stormy seas.

North Shore businesses anticipate droves of spectators traveling through Haleiwa.

At Aoki's Shave Ice, owner Cathy Aoki said she ordered about 500 more pounds of ice to prepare for large crowds flocking to the North Shore. Aoki said the number of customers will depend on the weather.

"Hopefully, the weather will stay like this," Aoki said of yesterday's balmy weather and blue skies.

Manager Rhoda Schwend at Haleiwa Joe's Restaurant Seafood Grill said the restaurant will likely have additional workers tonight as diners are expected to arrive after the contest ends. Schwend said the restaurant is usually slow during events as crowds will be at Waimea Bay, not in Haleiwa.

Lauren Eaves, a sales clerk at Matahari, a boutique that sells jewelry and dresses, said she hopes the event will generate business.

"We're definitely ready for the crowd," Eaves said.

Sitting under a large beach umbrella at Waimea Beach while eating edamame, Paul and Shelley Guardado, a couple visiting from Minneapolis, said they hope they will have a chance to watch the rare surf event.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Shelley Guardado.

Others plan to see the event without braving the crowds. Sunbathing at the beach with friends, Liliha resident Lauren Kim said she will likely watch the surf competition online.

The Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division was to add staff at lifeguard stations and response teams due to the predicted high surf. Lt. John Hoogsteden urged beachgoers to avoid going past taped-off areas at Waimea Bay because of the danger posed by the surf.

Tom Birchard, lead forecaster of the National Weather Service, predicted high tides at 3 a.m. today, urging motorists heading to the North Shore to be cautious of water and sand washing over parts of Kamehameha Highway.

Barriers were placed on the makai side of the highway from the Waimea Bay lookout point to the entrance of the park for traffic and safety reasons. In past events, motorists double-parked along the roadway to get a panoramic view of the surf meet. In the December 2009 event, the highway almost turned into a parking lot as motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists inched their way through the narrow roadway. The barriers will remain throughout the duration of the event.






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