Eddie Aikau (Edward Ryan Makuahanai Aikau)
BiographyMaui, Hawaii, USA
Champion surfer and lifeguard Edward Ryan Makuahanai Aikau was born on May 4, 1946 in Maui, Hawaii. The son of Solomon and Henrietta Aikau, Eddie was the third in a family of six children. Aikau grew up in Lahaina and attended St. Anthony School in Kailua. Eddie began surfing at age eleven and moved with his family to the Hawaiian island of O'ahu in 1959. Aikau dropped out of high school at age sixteen and bought his first surfboard with the money he made working at a Dole pineapple cannery. Read more... and besting the monster waves at the beach in Waimea Bay, Eddie in 1968 became the first lifeguard to be hired by the City & County of Honolulu to work on the North Shore. Well known for his exceptional courage and selfless nature as well as for the fact that no one ever drowned at sea on his watch, Aikau was named Lifeguard of the Year in 1971. Eddie won first place in the prestigious Duke Kahanamoka Invitational Surfing Championship contest in 1977. In 1978 Eddie volunteered as a crew member for a canoe voyage around the Hawaiian islands. After the canoe developed a leak in one of its hulls and subsequently capsized, Aikau decided to paddle back to shore on his surfboard in order to get help. Although all the other crew members were eventually rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Eddie's body was alas never found despite the efforts of an extensive manhunt. In honor of Aikau's memory the surf wear company Quicksilver has held the regular surfing tournament the Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau in Aikau's beloved Waimea Bay.