Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Edward Ryan "Eddie" Aikau (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 well known as a big-wave surfer in his own right.
Born on Maui, Hawaii, Aikau moved to Oahu with his family in 1959. In 1968 he became the first lifeguard hired by the City and County of Honolulu to work on the North Shore. Not one life was lost while he served as lifeguard of Waimea Bay , as he braved surf that often reached 20 feet high or more. He became very famous for surfing the big Hawaiian surf and won several surfing championships. The local saying, "Eddie would go," refers to his courage to take on waves that others would shy away from.
In 1978, the Polynesian Voyaging Society was seeking volunteers to follow the ancient route of the polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian island chains. 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 south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get to land to get help, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Although the rest of the crew was soon rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Aikau was never seen again.
In Aikau's honor, the surfwear company Quiksilver sponsors the Eddie Aikau Invitational Surf Contest. Since its inception in 1984, the tournament has only been held seven times, due to a precondition that there be waves at least 20 feet high at Waimea Bay . The most recent tournament was in December 2004, when waves in the bay reached 30 to 50 feet high.
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