Ross Clarke-Jones has cleared his diary, rented a house on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii and is waiting for ‘the call’. He’s joined by 27 other premier surfers who have been invited to enter ‘The 26th Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau’ (The Eddie), the most prestigious big wave surfing event in the world.
Banzai fans chat with Ross:
How does it feel to drop onto a big wave? What would you be doing if not surfing? How often do you 'eat it'? One spot you can't get enough of?
Each year, Ross moves his life to Hawaii for at least 3 months, chasing his dream to win The Eddie. The euphoric taste of victory was his in January 2001, but he wants it again. He’ll be riding the same board he’s ridden for the past 15 years at Waimea - 10 ft long, 20 inches wide, 3 inches thick. A big wave needs a big board.
This year, Ross is in the best shape both physically and mentally that he’s ever been in, and he’s ready.
‘I don’t NEED it like it’s the end of my life but I’d love it. I can do a lot more with it. I’d share the money with the local Hawaiians and feed them all – spend the whole $50,000 on a big pig.’If it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his belly, Clarke-Jones just won the support of many locals.
In the past, the winner was whoever successfully rode a wave from the deepest position. But last year a guy went straight down on a massive wave and got 20/20 – despite crashing. As Clarke-Jones says,
“They want it for the crowd and the crowd goes wild. It’s Gladiatorial. You just go for it.”
In this sport, there is no room for hesitation. It’s about commitment, timing, being in the right position – and of course, having the guts (or insanity) to stand up to a thunderous wave that might suck you 10m deep for what seems like an eternity.
Dropping off a monster wave and getting buried by a wall of whitewash would scare the bejesus out of most people. If this is all in a day’s work for Ross, then what does scare him?
‘Brazilian women’ he says.
Ross’s two ex-wives are Brazilian.Big Wave Contest Cancelled due to Big Waves
Trawling through the history of the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau reveals some interesting facts:
- Though many have come close, no one has ever won The Eddie twice.
- 1997/98 the event was ironically cancelled due to ‘big waves’. Ross was the only guy to accept his singlet that year, yet it would have taken a chopper to get him on one of the monster waves.
- Eddie Aikau devoted his life to big wave surfing and was the first official lifeguard of Waimea, Hawaii. His life was lost when he attempted to paddle 19 miles to shore to save the lives of those left on a capsized boat during a storm. He was never seen again, but his legacy lives on.
- Kelly Slater won it in January 2002, further proving himself as the greatest surfer of all time.
Do you remember the scene in Blue Crush where the girls are running underwater with a big boulder to practice holding their breath? Ross did that once – only for the camera! Reckons it doesn’t help that much, except to train your brain what it feels like to be trapped underwater. Then, when it happens for real, you can relax – and survive.
His REAL training (besides surfing a hell of a lot around Victoria and WA) kicks off around 5.30am each day, and involves mountain bike riding, cross training, cardio work and boxing. While he doesn’t really watch his diet, he’s learning the importance of eating better food to help rejuvenate his body after the pounding it cops in the surf every day.
With all this training, Ross has never felt so stable and ready for the The Eddie. So, who’s going to win it this year, Ross?
Australia will be cheering for you Ross – as will the hungry Hawaiians.''Follow all the action of The 26th Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau at the