Organizers of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave surf contest have given the event a green light, meaning if conditions are right Thursday morning, the contest will be a go for only the ninth time in 30 years.
A mini-city was being assembled at Waimea Bay as grandstands were set up for the invitational big wave contest that is only held when waves are consistently 40 feet for six to eight hours and conditions are ideal for big wave surfing.
A final call on whether the contest will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday will be made at 6 a.m. Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the contest said in an email, that the surfers invited to participate were notified Tuesday night that full preparations are underway for the start of the contest, should the giant waves of 40 to 50 feet arrive as expected.
Waimea Bay will be closed from sunset today through 5 a.m. Thursday and the city and state are preparing to handle the crowd that could top 30,000 people on the North Shore.
Spectators are encouraged to walk or bike to Waimea Bay.
State crews were putting up barriers and signs along Kamehameha Highway today.
North Shore drivers will face parking restrictions on Kamehameha Highway leading up to and during the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau surf tournament.
No parking will be allowed on either side of Kamehameha Highway from Iliohu Place to the Saints Peter & Paul Mission starting 10 p.m. tonight through the tournament’s duration, according to a state Department of Transportation release.
Any vehicles parked there will be towed at the owner’s expense, and if the Eddie doesn’t go then crews will remove barriers blocking parking there as soon as possible, the release stated.
The DOT is also canceling lane closures for utility and repair work on Kamehameha Highway along the North Shore, it added.
TheBus is adding additional bus service from Ala Moana Center anthe Alapai Transit Center to the North Shore starting at 5 a.m. The extra bus service will run on Route 52, Honolulu-Mililani-Haleiwa and Route 55, Honolulu-Kaneohe-Haleiwa.
Traffic is expected to slow the bus service and riders should allow for extra travel time.
Contest organizers are not providing private shuttles and are encouraging visitors to use TheBus.
Special duty police officers will be directing traffic around Waimea Bay.
A giant swell with waves of 40 to 50 feet is expected to arrive starting today. The surf could potentially run up over roads and cause coastal flooding, the National Weather Service said. It is expected to peak Thursday morning.
“Significant beach runup and coastal inundation can be expected with this swell especially near times of high tide,” forecasters said.
The National Weather Service said waves ahead of the peak of the swell have reached buoys north of Hawaii and appear to be rising in line with computer models. But contest organizers will not have a good idea of wave heights on Thursday until the peak of the swell hits buoys tonight.
The high tide Thursday at Waimea Bay will be at about 5:18 a.m. and and 5:54 p.m.
Bob Burke, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service, said people who are on or near the shoreline on the North Shore should be aware that the very large waves could sweep up the beach, even in areas that appear to be dry.
Contest organizers encourage people to heed advice from lifeguards, noting that Aikau was a lifeguard.
People wishing to pay tribute to Aikau and to Haleiwa big wave surfer Brock Little, who died of cancer last week, are encouraged to bring a ti leaf.
If the contest is a go, it will be broadcast on the Internet on the World Surf League website and WSL mobile app. It will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network and on Oceanic Time Warner Cable channels 250 and 1250HD.
People planning to drive up to North Shore tonight should prepare for rain and cool temperatures. The forecast calls for scattered showers after midnight with low temperatures between 56 and 68 degrees and northeast winds around 10 to 15 mph.
Thursday should be sunny and breezy with some isolated showers in the morning, east winds of 15 to 20 mph and highs between 70 and 80 degrees.
The Eddie has been held only 8 times since 1985. The last time it was held was on Dec. 9, 2009.
Twenty-eight invited surfers will surf twice, in separate rounds in seven man heats. Surfers can ride up to four waves in each heat and the top four scores will be totaled to determine the winner. There is no elimination in the contest and anyone can win, even in the last round, if they ride a big scoring wave.
Judges will score each wave based on size, risk and control.
If the Eddie is not a go Thursday, another giant swell is forecast to arrive starting Monday and peaking Tuesday.
But the holding period for the Eddie lasts only until Monday, so it could arrive one day too late to hold the contest.