Eddie Aikau was the first official lifeguard at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. He gained a proven reputation as a big wave surfer and a serious waterman winning many surf competitions and was reputed to have surfed every big swell that hit the North Shore between 1967 to 1978.
Partnering with his brother, Clyde, the pair never lost anyone whilst they looked after Waimea.
Eddie became a true legend 1978 when he gave his life to save the crew of the Hokule’a
In 1978, the Polynesian Voyaging Society was seeking volunteers for a 30-day, 2,500-mile (4,000 km) journey to follow the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian island chains. At 31 years of age, Aikau joined the voyage as a crew member. The Hokule’a left the Hawaiian islands on March 16, 1978. The double-hulled voyaging canoe developed a leak in one of the hulls and later capsized about twelve miles (19 km) south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get help, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Although the rest of the crew was later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cape Corwin, Aikau was never seen again. He removed his lifejacket since it was hindering his paddling of the surfboard. The ensuing search for Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history.
The Eddie Aikau big wave surf event has a huge line up as always with one exception, Clyde Aikau. At 66 years of age, he is paddling out to surf and compete for the last time ever in 20+ft surf that is slamming into Waimea right now.
2016 Winner of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surf Contest, Waimea
John John Florence has been crowned winner 2016!
Mr Florence was full-on all day. By the time his second heat came around, Australian legend Ross Clarke Jones had taken the lead over Shane Dorian. John was in third. Early on he put up an 89 with a late drop. He needed a 65 to over take RCJ. With 10 minutes to spare he scraped into one of the biggest waves of the day, air dropped down the face while Waimea avalanched behind him, grabbed his rail and came out unscathed. John’s ability to put himself under the lip at the Bay is reminiscent of the way he surfs Pipe. It upped his collective score to a winning 301. As Stab predicted before the almost Eddie, John is the youngest event winner in history. It’s funny for Mr Florence to win the Eddie before the Pipe Masters but we’d be surprised if he never adds that title to his mantel.
“It’s super tiring out there,” John said after his winning heat. “It’s big and gnarly. It’s amazing to be a part of this event. Surfing Waimea with six guys and my heroes that I grew up watching since I was a little kid is incredible. And surfing a heat with my best friends, Mase and Koa, is something we’ve dreamed about since we were young. It’s one of the most special moments of my life. The event’s only ran a few times in my whole life and for me to be a part of it is amazing. I’m just overwhelmed with adrenaline from the whole day.