Greggie would go!!!
Without fanfare, and with quiet Hawaiian style respect for all those who have come before him, Long has steadily climbed from young rookie to a fiercely competitive powerhouse who has won nearly every big wave event he has entered.
Throughout the entire day it was Kelly Slater, a past Eddie winner and 9-time world champion, who led the pack. His big tube ride early in the first heat and a long winding ride to beach on one of the best waves to come through had the crowd hoarse from cheering. A betting man would have put his chips -all in' for a man most consider the best surfer in history. But at big Waimea, all bets are off.
The invitees were from all over the globe and big wave riders fly half way round it to be in this prestigious event. Chilean hero Ramon Navarro took the Monster Drop award for the biggest drop-in of the day. European Ibon Amatriain and South African Twiggy Baker acquitted themselves with style.
But for crowd pleasers it was hard to beat Hawaii's Andy Iron's intrepid ride in Round Two. On one of the biggest drops of the day Irons rocketed down the face, held on as two stories of whitewater exploded behind him and then drove left into the surging soup heading into the shore break. With the crowd screaming and the rumbling cement-mixer shore break looming, he rode straight into the deafening closeout barrel to a standing ovation.
But in the end, the day belonged to Greg Long. A complete dark horse in this historic event, Long came from way behind, winning the contest in his last heat with every wave a high score. His astonishing late surge included a 100 point perfect ride that he navigated down a huge bumpy face edging rail-to-rail like a mogul skier. The second-youngest winner at just 26, Long ended up squeaking by Slater with his last scoring wave.
'I am humbled by being here, said Long, in his acceptance speech as northern power swells continued to pour though Waimea. 'This contest represents everything big wave surfing is about - the camaraderie, the friendship the respect and the aloha spirit.'
'Eddie would be very proud of this day,' said Myra Aikau, Eddie's sister at the awards ceremony. And no one would have been prouder of the winner than Eddie Aikau.
Jim Kempton, Media Director firstname.lastname@example.org (949)502-1929 Cell