Eddie Aikau Invitational, Oahu Dec 2009
Eddie Would Go.
Edward Ryan Makua Hanai Aikau (Kahului, Hawaii, May 4, 1946 – March 17, 1978) was a well-known Hawaiian lifeguard and surfer. As the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the island of Oahu, he saved many lives and became famous for surfing the big Hawaiian surf, winning several awards including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.
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, Aikau was never seen again. The ensuing search for Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaii history.
In Aikau's honor, the surfwear company Quiksilver sponsors the “The Eddie”—the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay. The idea of the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational was created by Bruce Raymond and Bob McKnight.
Since its inception, the tournament has only been held eight times, due to a precondition that open-ocean swells reach a minimum of 20 feet (this translates to a wave face height of over 30 feet). The most recent tournament was in December 2009, when waves in the bay reached 30 to 50 feet (15 m) high. The contest only invites 28 big-wave riders to participate in two rounds of competition. The event does not allow the use of jet skis to tow surfers into the waves.
Since Eddie's untimely death, bumper stickers and T-shirts with the phrase "Eddie Would Go" spread around the Hawaiian Islands and to the rest of the world. According to maritime historian Mac Simpson, "Aikau was a legend on the North Shore, pulling people out of waves that no one else would dare to. That's where the saying came from -- Eddie would go, when no else would or could. Only Eddie dared."