In the 31 years that the famed Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau has been scheduled at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii it’s only been held eight times previously. That’s because the contest requires waves at least 30-to-40 feet tall, and even for one of the world’s most fearsome surf breaks that is pretty rare.

After the contest was called on and then off again a few weeks ago it was looking like the anticipation built up around a coming El Nino may have been mere hype. But this week the surfing gods smiled down on Waimea bringing near 60-foot waves to huge crowds marking the ninth running of The Eddie big wave contest.

The resulting crown went to Hawaiian pro surfer John John Florence at 23 years of age. Quite an impressive feat for a young man in a field made up of some of the world’s best surfers. Just competing at The Eddie is an achievement on its own with just 28 big wave surfers getting invitations.

For a taste of the heart-stopping action you can watch the entire contest here or see highlights of the event below.

Photo credit: Youtube