It was one of those sleepless nights where all you could think about was the next morning.

At 3 a.m., I was off to the North Shore, my Jeep packed with digital gear, drinks, snacks, a sleepy girlfriend. Three hours of sleep felt like three minutes. But it didn’t matter – at this point adrenaline had taken over. The biggest surf event in the world was about to go off and I was on my way.

The moon was so bright I had trouble not looking up at it. It seemed like a sign, as if for certain the waves would be big enough and the conditions perfect enough for the Eddie Aikau Surf Invitational to go off.

The previous day was filled with optimistic predictions that the contest would be on. The Eddie, a surf contest that requires 40-foot waves (20-foot Hawaiian), is one of the most unique sporting events in the world. The event honors a Hawaiian legend, Eddie Aikau.

Two miles from Waimea Bay, parking was already a nightmare. Thousands of people walked, biked or skateboarded to the bay. A half-dozen makeshift signs along the road offered parking for rates between $20 and $30. Others ignored warning signs and “No Parking” notices, hoping for forgiveness rather than permission.

The beach was crowded with locals, tourists, surf enthusiasts and people playing hooky from work. They were scattered on blankets, beach towels and chairs, some with elaborate tents and portable grills. They were all waiting for the final word that The Eddie was a go.

6:30 a.m. Go or no go? We’re told to wait until 7.

7:00 a.m. Waves are big, but something still feels off. Contest officials say check back in 30.

8:00 a.m. Still no word.

8:30 a.m. A few bigger swells roll in. The crowd is anxious.

9:00 a.m. The Eddie’s George Downing makes an announcement: No Eddie today.

Most of us weren’t surprised. The waves were big, but not Eddie big. Immediately, half the audience bolted.

But the surfers in the water didn’t care. Heck, Eddie would go. They still treated an excited crowd with breathless rides and some fantastic wipeouts.

If the Eddie happened every year, it’d be just another surf tournament — and Eddie Aikau just another surfer. But they’re not. And that elusive combination of big waves and perfect conditions is what’ll keep surf fanatics hoping, waiting for the next Eddie to go.