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Eddie Aikau surf contest set to begin Wednesday on Oahu

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The last run of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was on Feb. 25, 2016, drawing more than 1.2 million to the event’s livestream. Above, the beach at Waimea Bay was sparse Monday with few people on the shore.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

The last run of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was on Feb. 25, 2016, drawing more than 1.2 million to the event’s livestream. Above, the beach at Waimea Bay was sparse Monday with few people on the shore.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. At top, the bay was relatively calm Monday.
2/4
Swipe or click to see more

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. At top, the bay was relatively calm Monday.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. Above, people enjoyed the bay’s shore.
3/4
Swipe or click to see more

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. Above, people enjoyed the bay’s shore.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Above, businesses in Haleiwa are expected to see more foot traffic during the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.
4/4
Swipe or click to see more

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Above, businesses in Haleiwa are expected to see more foot traffic during the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The last run of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was on Feb. 25, 2016, drawing more than 1.2 million to the event’s livestream. Above, the beach at Waimea Bay was sparse Monday with few people on the shore.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. At top, the bay was relatively calm Monday.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Waimea Bay on Wednesday. Above, people enjoyed the bay’s shore.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Above, businesses in Haleiwa are expected to see more foot traffic during the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

Editor’s Note: As of Tuesday, Jan. 10, the surf contest has been called off. Read the latest story here.

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More than 20,000 people are likely to descend upon Waimea Bay on Wednesday as a giant North Shore swell is expected to allow “The Eddie” big-wave surf contest to run for only the 10th time in some 40 years.

The Eddie Aikau Foundation on Monday said “The Eddie is a go” and plans to start setting up for the legendary contest early this morning.

National Weather Service forecasters said the largest winter swell of the season is expected to arrive Tuesday night, surpassing the high-surf warning level. The sizable surf along north shores is expected to rapidly build and peak Wednesday, to as high as 40 to 50 feet.

Since its inception in 1984, the competition has been held only nine times. The contest runs only if surf heights consistently reach at least 20 feet in Hawaii-style measurements (40-foot faces) during a window from Dec. 14 to March 23.

The last run of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was on Feb. 25, 2016, drawing more than 1.2 million to the event’s livestream.

On the North Shore more than 20,000 spectators packed Waimea Bay Beach Park and the surrounding cliffs.

Needless to say, parking and traffic along two-lane Kamehameha Highway were insane — and expected to be the same on Wednesday.

“The bottom line is that if you come to see the event, come the night before,” said Clyde Aikau of the Eddie Aikau Foundation. “If you come the day of the event, it will take you five hours to get there. Traffic will be backed up all the way to Wahiawa.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi met with city and state agencies Monday afternoon to outline several initiatives for handling the throngs expected to attend the event.

City spokesman Ian Scheuring said there will be additional bus routes, extra police and more enforcement along Kamehameha Highway.

“We’re still working out the details,” said Scheuring, who added that a news conference will be held at noon today to discuss the effort.

Meanwhile, excitement on the North Shore is building like the waves.

The folks at the North Shore Tacos food truck are expecting at least a 30% increase in business.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot busier,” said office administrator Barbara Arcibelli.

Manager Thais Seegmiller said fortunately, Wednesday is her regular day off, and she plans to go to the Eddie.

“But I’ll probably be called back in to work,” Seegmiller said.

For most businesses on the North Shore, the Eddie is a double-edged sword.

On the day of the event, business is a little light in shops all around the North Shore, including restaurants and shops in Haleiwa, said Kelli Turansky, executive director of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.

“However, overall it is a really good thing for the North Shore businesses because the contest brings a lot of notoriety to the North Shore. The Eddie brings people from all over the world to our beautiful North Shore to learn more about our community,” Turansky said.

At Waimea Valley Hi‘ipaka LLC — across the street from the beach park — regular business will be slow because of the traffic and the fact that most people turn their attention to the Eddie, said Richard Pezzulo, executive director.

On the other hand, the nonprofit does well selling parking, stretching the number of parking spaces to 400 from 350 for the Eddie.

“We open parking at midnight and charge $20 per car in our back lots and $30 per car in the lots closest to the bay,” Pezzulo said. “This year we plan to open our coffee shop around 4 a.m. to try and capture some of the early arrivals.”

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Star-Advertiser reporter Nina Wu contributed to this story.

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