Eddie Aikau had the lineage of a king, and he became a modern member of Hawaii’s royal pantheon. A descendant of Hewahewa, the kahuna nui (high priest) King Kamehameha I and his successor Kamehameha II, perhaps no other pure Polynesian surf hero has been held in such high regard since Olympian Duke Kahanamoku. The 3rd son of an esteemed family, Aikau personified the Hawaiian profile: big, bold. humble, strong, generous, respectful, gracious, fun-loving and, most of all, a master of the ocean lifestyle.
As the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, Aikau saved over 500 lives and became famous for riding big Hawaiian surf, winning several awards including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.
At 31, Aikau joined the Polynesian Voyaging Society as a crew member on the Hokule’a, a double-hulled voyaging canoe, on a 2,500-mile journey to follow the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between Hawaii and Tahiti. The Hokule’a left Oahu March 16, 1978. It was caught in huge sea storms and capsized.
In an attempt to get help, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Although the rest of the crew was rescued, Aikau was never found. The ensuing search for Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history. As a Waimea Bay surfer Eddie had few equals– He was the undisputed king during his tenure there.
The Eddie is the premier Event in the sport of Surfing – The Super Bowl of Surfing. The Eddie Big Wave Invitational celebrates the current lineage of big wave surfers, as well as the ones that came before. The legend of Eddie Aikau is an important part of Hawaiian Culture. The 34th annual Eddie Big Wave Invitational is aiming to bring focus onto Hawaiian Culture, with a goal to share the stories and legacy of Hawaii with the world. With the Waimea Valley extending behind Waimea Bay, this is an area rich with historic Hawaiian Cultural significance.
Watch Live: The Eddie Aikau Invitational at Waimea Bay - World's most iconic big-wave event returns