POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 21, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:10 a.m. HST, Jan 21, 2011
After all the calculations the official final analysis was that, yes ... Eddie would go.
He would go home.
Too puny, da waves. Huge and impossible to ride by mortal standards, but just ripples for the gods of surfing. Occasional 20-footers at Waimea Bay wouldn't have been big enough for the namesake of The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau.
Neither were they for Kelly Slater, who said waves worthy of The Eddie are waves that drive fear into the fearless. And the 10-time world champion said these sets did not scare him.
Last week, the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament was postponed due to too much moisture. Now here's a sports event nixed because nature was too gentle. Imagine the NFL postponing the Bears-Packers game because it lacked a blizzard.
The Eddie confirms that surfers are the craziest and most courageous athletes of all. They laugh in the glassy faces of waves the rest of us wouldn't ride atop an ocean liner.
The sponsors might not always believe it, but meet director George Downing's strict adherence to wave-size guidelines come hell or not-so-high water is what makes this event great.
Sometimes this whole idea that the waves must be monsters for the event to be staged seems a bit precious to even this idealist. The continuing theme that Eddie Aikau would discard every 15-footer like a fish that's too small strikes me as ludicrous. Even if you're world class, if you've got the itch to surf, you surf.
But however much is myth and how much is reality doesn't really matter. It works, and it's what makes The Eddie what it is -- no matter how many years in a row the waves don't make the cut. It says something about the integrity of an event that it's canceled because it would be too easy.
The smoke didn't rise from cardinal Downing's chimney until around 8:45 a.m., 45 minutes after the planned start. Some promising sets had arrived, but not big enough and not timed close enough to indicate waves aplenty for a fair competition. Black smoke, no contest.
After 4 hours of monitoring, only eight waves more than 20 feet had crashed Waimea Bay. More had been expected from the biggest storm of the season as it approached Oahu earlier in the week.
"Looking at that we all got a little over-amped," Quiksilver spokesman Glen Moncata said.
Some people actually clapped upon the announcement that there would be no contest on this day, apparently in respect of the process. Ever heard applause at a rainout?
Sure, no one had paid money for admission. But thousands on the beach had invested time and emotion.
Noland Conjugacion didn't consider it a waste.
"I'm not disappointed at all, because it's a beautiful day in Hawaii Nei. The guys are going to surf anyway. Either way we're in the zone. The event is the anticipation. The gravy is the surfing. All aloha."
Thank you, Brother Noland, for helping me put out of mind the commercialism, drugs and territorial thuggery that loom over what was once Hawaii's pure sport. While surfing is an apt metaphor for some of our islands' problems, The Eddie -- whether it goes or not -- remains symbolic of integrity, tradition, courage, excellence and selflessness.
Even putting aside metaphysics for missing out on the defying of physics, it was all good yesterday. World class surfers challenging world class waves would have been fun to watch, for sure. Without it, a day at the beach was still a day at the beach.