According to younger brother Clyde, the legendary surfer Eddie Aikau was very interested in his Hawaiian roots. So, when he found out that the Polynesian Voyaging Society was looking for volunteers to join a 2,500 mile trip to recreate the original Polynesian route between Hawaii and Tahiti, he jumped into it. It was 1978 and Eddie was 31.
Being accustomed to monster waves, he may have though that crossing the Pacific Ocean on a canoe wasn’t very dangerous. But it was: only twelve miles south of the island of Molokai the boat capsized.
Eddie, as usual, behaved like an hero and tried to paddle on his surfboard to the island of Lanai, 12 miles away. He insisted on going alone for help, but this time the task turned out to be impossible. The day after the rest of the crew was rescued by an US Coast Guard ship. Eddie’s last words were “Don’t worry, I can do it. I can get to land.” His body was never found.
The Eddie Aikau Memorial has been taking place at Waimea Bay since 1986, a Hawaiian big surf competition in which only surfers invited by the organisation can perform. A good showcase for big brands and great sportsmen, but also the best way to remember one the greatest surfers ever.