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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, January 13, 2001


By Grant Ellis/, special to the Star-Bulletin
After 14 years of trying, Australian Ross Clarke-Jones, 34, surfed
his way yesterday to first place and $50,000 on waves up to 25
feet in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau meet
at Waimea Bay yesterday.

‘Eddie’ goes

Australian becomes
fourth ever to win
Eddie Aikau

Star-Bulletin staff

Fourteen years of trying to master the huge waves of Hawaii's Waimea Bay paid big dividends for Australian Ross Clarke-Jones yesterday, as he surfed his way to first place and a $50,000 paycheck in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau competition.

The event, in honor of Hawaiian big-wave legend Eddie Aikau, featured waves as high as 25 feet.

They were so high that the use of jet skis were often required to enable surfers to find their way onto the larger waves.

"To win has been a dream for so long that I had almost given up on it," said Clarke-Jones, 34, the first person not from Hawaii to win the event. "It's not even the money. I've spent 10 times that amount just staying here every winter waiting for the event to happen. It's purely the prestige. To be able to say you've won 'The Eddie.' "

Ross Clarke-Jones
"To win has been a dream for so long
that I had almost given up on it."
Australian Ross Clarke-Jones, at right, scored 319 points
(out of a possible 400) by the end of his second round .
Ross Williams of Hawaii, left , scored 280 points

Clarke-Jones became just the fourth person to ever win the 15-year-old event. Waves must be 20 feet high during a specific winter waiting period for the event to take place.

"I've wanted it so hard and for so long that I think I've put too much pressure on myself and my past performances have been a bit disappointing," Clarke-Jones said.

Each surfer had the opportunity to compete in two rounds, with his four best rides by the end of the day counting in his overall total. Each wave could score a maximum of 100 points.

Clarke-Jones had a total of 319 points by the end of his two-round performance, finishing ahead of Hawaii's Shane Dorian (292 points), Australia's Paul Paterson (283), Hawaii's Ross Williams (280) and Florida's Kelly Slater (270).

Clarke-Jones had the two highest wave scores of the day -- 92 and 91 points. His third and fourth scores were both 68 points.

Aikau surfed to legendary status at Waimea Bay, where he was a lifeguard during the 1960s and 1970s.

On March 16, 1978, he was lost at sea during a voyage on the Hokule'a canoe when it was swamped in high seas off Molokai. Aikau paddled to get help for his crew but was never seen again.

Aikau's younger brother, Clyde, was the oldest participant in yesterday's event.

"Even though a lot of the competitors today didn't know Eddie personally, those guys who know what riding big waves is all about will always feel that connection with him," said Clyde Aikau, 51, who won the event in 1986 and placed 10th overall yesterday.

Hawaii lifeguard Brian Keaulana, of Makaha, was the only surfer seriously injured. He ruptured his eardrum after a nasty wipeout in the last heat of the day.

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