Icons: Eddie Aikau
Eddie Aikau is one of surfing's greatest legends. A legend whose life has turned into myth and whose memory is still honored today in The Eddie - Quicksilver's famed big wave tournament that requires minimum wave heights of 20 feet.
Eddie was so obsessed with the water that by age 16 he rarely showed up at school, choosing to surf instead. Given an ultimatum by his father, he chose to drop out and work at a job that let him surf in the morning and most of the day.
This picture was taken November 19, 1967. It was the day that created Eddie's reputation as the most fearless and skilled surfer in Hawaii and changed his life. The waves on Waimea Bay that day were estimated at between 30 and 40 feet high. As a complete unknown, Eddie charged them without hesitation, once taking a wipeout that dropped him 25 feet down the face of a wave. His picture soon started appearing in Life Magazine, and the world learned of a local Hawaiian who had stolen the show from all the established champions.
Eddie managed to talk Honolulu city into creating a position as lifeguard of the North Shore. During his time as lifeguard of Waimea Bay, not a single life was lost.
At the age of 32, one year after winning the Duke Invitational in 1977, Eddie set out for a doomed voyage - sailing the Hokule'a from Hawaii to Tahiti. Within hours of setting sail, the ship developed a leak and soon capsized. A strong southerly current was pushing the boat and its passengers out to sea. In an attempt to save them, Eddie decided to paddle his surfboard 12 miles to the closest island to find help. He was never seen again, despite the largest air-sea search in Hawaii's history. The rest of the crew were eventually spotted and rescued.
A crowd gathers to watch the Eddie Aikau Memorial Ceremony held at Waimea Bay. Eddie's passion, selflessness and fearless approach to life soon led to the slogan, "Eddie Would Go," which spread throughout the Hawaiian islands and the world.