TIME Surfing

Watch Top Surfers in Hawaii Battle Some Seriously Big Waves

The Eddie Aikau competition is only held when waves are higher than 20 ft.

Some of the world’s best surfers hit the waves — some as high as 50 ft. — at Waimea Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, on Thursday, as the beach held its famous “Eddie” competition for the first time since 2009.

The invitational surf tournament, held to commemorate Hawaiian lifeguard and surfing icon Eddie Aikau who died during a rescue mission in 1978, saw top surfers from around the world fly in to compete, reports the Guardian.

The competition only takes place when waves at Waimea exceed 20 ft., according to the Washington Post, and has only been held nine times (including Thursday) since its inception 31 years ago.

“I’ve been riding Waimea Bay for over 40 years and today has to be one of the best days I’ve seen in 40 years,” Clyde Aikau, Eddie’s younger brother, was quoted as saying. Clyde won the competition in 1986, and said Thursday’s participation, at 66 years old, would be his last.

However, it was the competition’s youngest entrant, 23-year-old Hawaiian surfer John John Florence, who walked away with the top prize.

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