"Eddie Aikau was a humble man who was larger than life. As a surfer, he rode the biggest waves in the world; as a lifeguard, he saved hundreds of lives from the North Shore's treacherous waters; and as a a proud Hawaiian, he sacrificed his life to save his fellow sailors aboard the voyaging canoe Hokule'a". ~ Source: 'Eddie Would Go' by Stuart Holmes Coleman
Eddie Aikau, Edward Ryan Aikau was born on Maui, on May 4, 1946, the third child of Solomon and Henrietta Aikau. He came into a world of few material goods. Sol worked as a truck driver for the Kahului Railroad Company, and the family lived in a dirt-road compound of 15 houses and fellow railroad workers. On weekends, Sol would take the kids down to Kahului Harbor with his old redwood board. Eddie learned to surf in the harbor shorebreak, which has since been dredged. In 1959, the family moved to Honolulu on Oahu. By then, there were six kids, and he wanted to offer them better opportunities than he'd had on Maui. Eddie and younger brother Clyde made themselves boards from marine ply and began surfing the Waikiki Wall. By the age of 16, Eddie -- never a committed student -- had left school and was working at the Dole pineapple cannery, earning enough money to buy his first real board -- a big, thick Velzy. The Aikau boys worked their way up the classic Hawaiian food chain, from the Wall to Queen's to Ala Moana to Haleiwa, borrowing the family truck for weekend North Shore runs.
Aikau's first experience in bigger waves came through John Kelly and Sammy Lee, who took him out to big Sunset in early 1967. On November 19 of that year he took on huge Waimea Bay. All the great big-wave riders of the day were out: Greg Noll, Rick Grigg, Felipe Pomar and George Downing. Aikau, just a normal Hawaiian kid possessed by who knew what, dominated the lineup from start to finish, while young Clyde watched amazed from the cliff. Photos from that day appeared in Life magazine, and suddenly Aikau was a star.
In 1968, Aikau left the Dole job and persuaded the Honolulu city and county to appoint him North Shore lifeguard. He was given the task of covering all beaches between Sunset and Haleiwa and saved hundreds of lives over the next three years. Hardly any official rescue reports made it back to lifeguard headquarters; Aikau was not a report writer. In 1971, the roving patrol was disbanded and Aikau was assigned to Waimea Bay, where -- despite his disdain for haole tourists and suicidal Marines -- no lives were lost while he was on duty.
Through the '70s, Aikau cemented his reputation as the undisputed master of big Hawaiian surf, winning the Duke Classic in 1977 and scoring many other high placings. His authority over the scene was unquestioned. In 1976, when fights began to break out between angry Hawaiians and cheeky Australian surfers who'd imported an increasingly cockier attitude to the North Shore, Aikau stepped in as mediator. A few years earlier, he might've been fighting; now he was the peacemaker. But Aikau was troubled by something. A brief marriage in 1971 fell apart, and he found himself at a loose end of sorts. According to Clyde, he was more and more intrigued by his Hawaiianness: what did it mean in the second half of the 20th century? When the Polynesian Voyaging Society announced it was seeking volunteers for a journey of rediscovery aboard its double-hulled replica canoe Hokule'a, Eddie leaped at the chance. The Hokule'a trip was designed to retrace the ancient Polynesian migration passage between Hawaii and the Tahitian chain -- 2,400 miles south of Honolulu. It had done a similar trip in 1976, accompanied by backup vessels; this time it would go alone. Hokule'a sailed out of the Magic Island dock on the evening of March 16, 1978, straight into a strong northeast tradewind. By midnight, tracking down the rough Molokai Channel, the canoe developed a leak in the starboard hull and eventually capsized. The crew hung on and hoped for a quick rescue, but by morning they were locked into a southerly flowing current and still being smashed by the tradewind. Aikau insisted on paddling for help -- his target being the island of Lanai, 12 miles to the east -- and at 10:30 a.m., Captain David Lyman relented. Aikau made a leash of nylon rope for his big rescue board and paddled off, saying: "Don't worry, I can do it. I can get to land." At 8:27 p.m., a Hawaiian Air jet pilot saw the canoe's flares and strobe lights and requested aid; by midnight, most of the crew was on its way back to Honolulu.
Eddie Aikau was never found. A memorial was mounted at Waimea Bay Beach Park, and the famous invite-only Bay event held in his name waits each winter for the kind of surf he made his own. Source: Surfline, Nick Carroll, October 2000.
The Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational
The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau—known as The Eddie — is a surfing tournament held at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Created in 1984 at Sunset, then changed to the infamous Waimea Bay where Aikau was a lifeguard and where he and his family were caretakers of the valley. The event has been named after famed Waimea Bay lifeguard Eddie Aikau, the irregularly-held tournament is known for a unique requirement that ocean swells reach a minimum height of 20 feet (6.1 m) before the competition can be held. (swells, rather than wave faces, are the preferred method of Hawaiian wave measurement.) As a result of this requirement, the tournament has only been held eight times during the history of the event, most recently on December 8, 2009. Eddie Aikau's brother Clyde Aikau won the second Eddie in 1987.
Each year, 28 surfers, chosen by polling among their peers, are invited to Waimea Bay to participate in the Blessing of Eddie Aikau for the Opening Ceremony on the first Thursday of December. The competition holding period is between December 1 and the last day of February annually. Each day, surf conditions, ocean swells, and weather forecasts are monitored by the worlds most knowledgeable Oceanographers, Meteorologists and Big Wave surfing Experts - Along with the Contest Director George Downing. Open-ocean swells in Waimea Bay must be forecast to reach a minimum of 20 feet (6.1 m) consistently during a single day during the competition window. (Swells of 20 feet usually translate to face heights of 30–40 feet.) The Contest director makes the decision as to whether to run the competition if the conditions are right.
[Harald-M. Lehnardt at the Eddie Opening Ceremony: Nov 2012]
Should the Competition be called on for a morning Official Call during the competition window, the participants have a 12-hour window to arrive at Waimea Bay to check in the morning of the competition. Participants will compete in two rounds of about three or four waves each during the competition day, which is generally from 08:00 to 17:00. Their four best scoring waves over two rounds will make up their total score. Participants are not allowed to use personal watercraft to tow themselves into the waves; they must paddle out into the waves entirely under their own power. If the minimum conditions are not met during the Competition period, the event is not held that year, and the process repeats itself the following December. Source: Wikipedia
Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau 2013 Documentary • Harald was commissioned for the concept & design for the movie poster
Eddie Would Go The Legend of Eddie Aikau • Segment on ESPN's Sportscenter about Eddie Aikau
espn: 30 for 30: Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau
Interview with Sam George
Who is Eddie Aikau? Quiksilver Invitational • 2012-2013
Who is Eddie Aikau? Biography of the legendary big wave surfer memorialized in the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational
2012-2013 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Harald's artwork featured (2.38 - 2.42)
2012-2013 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Experience At The Bay
2011-2012 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Opening Ceremony Highlights
2009-2010 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • A Space Odyssey - The Best Waves & Wipeouts
2010-2011 Quiksilver Guide to The Eddie Aikau • Waimea Bay Lifeguards & Mark Healey give Safety Tips
2010-2011 Quiksilver Guide to The Eddie Aikau • Mark Healey takes you through a drive through Haleiwa
2009-2010 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Highlight
2008-2009 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Highlights
2007-2008 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Opening Ceremony Highlights
2006-2007 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Opening Ceremony Highlights
1986-1987 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau • Clyde Aikau Wins
Talk Story with Clyde Aikau (2012) Turtle Bay Resort • Harald's artwork featured
Eddie Would Go Clyde Aikau Interview from the Westside
Clyde Aikau: My Brother's Keeper Freesurf Magazine (2016)
Please visit and support the website of Stuart Holmes Coleman, author of an outstanding biography of one of
Hawaii's greatest heroes and legends, Eddie Aikau.
Eddie Would Go
Learn more about the Eddie Aikau Foundation
The Eddie Aikau Foundation
2009-2010 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau
Comisioned Movie Poster
Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau