Eddie Aikau was a native Hawaiian, a champion surfer in the 70's and Waimea's first lifeguard. He began surfing in earnest in 1967 when he hit Sunset Beach (on Oahu's infamous north shore) to surf the 15 foot swells (Hawaiians measure the wave from the backside). That same year he surfed Waimea with some of the world's best surfers and shocked everyone by fearlessly taking 40 foot swells (for the surfing neophytes among you, that is a big fucking wave). Soon after he became Waimea Bays first lifeguard. Eddie was a powerful surfer ranked 12th in the world and admired by not only the surfing community but by Hawaii itself.

On March 16th, 1978, Eddie embarked on a traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe in a reenactment of ancient Polynesian migration. In the Kaiwi channel, on their way to Lanai, Eddie and the rest of the crew of this small vessel were hit by a horrendous storm. After being pounded by 12 foot waves the ship finally capsized spilling all its crew into the ocean with no rescue in sight.

All hope of being saved dwindled as the crew clung to the side of the vessel desperately; Eddie would go. He told them all he would try to go the 12 miles to shore and get them help himself, got on his board and paddled into the storm. He was never seen again.

The next day rescue vessels found the capsized ship and its crew shaken but alive; all but Eddie. The Hawaiian Coast guard and her people launched the largest sea search and rescue operation of all time. Not a trace of Eddie Aikau was ever found.

When I lived in Hawaii I saw "Eddie would go." bumperstickers plastered on to almost every bumper on the Island. Eddie's bravery is an inspiration to the Hawaiian people and admittedly even to me. Thinking about Eddie is a common practice when doing something you don't want to do or are even scared to do. He has served as a role model for over twenty years and his memory is not to be forgotten.

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