Every year, a surf contest called The Eddie is held in Waimea Bay, Hawai’i. Well, not every year…
This year, the contest was planned to be held from the beginning of the year until February 29. Unfortunately it had to be called off. Why? The waves were too small. Talk about picky surfers, huh?
The contest is held in honour of Eddie Aikau, who was a dedicated defending of Hawai’ian culture and sovereignty — and that included surfing. In the 1960s, surfing was the hottest new trend. New surfers flooded Hawaii’s beaches from all over the world. Nicole Pasulka describes how they brought with them their own ideas, too.
For traditional Hawaiians, surfing was a way of expressing a philosophy about the world and how to live in it. It was an embodiment of the principles of balance, respect and gentleness. Not least of all, it was an expression of courage. Have you ever been surfing? It sure takes a lot of guts to stare down those giant waves. But Eddie was also very caring. He was one of Hawaii’s first official lifeguards!
Eddie never shied away from a big wave, or from a challenge. In 1978, he was taking part in a traditional canoe trip when they encountered a giant storm. Waves hammered their vessel for hours. Luckily, Eddie had come prepared. He hoped onto his surfboard and set off in search of help. Hours later, the boat was rescued, but Eddie was never found.
The annual Eddie Aikau memorial surf contest is held each year — only if the waves reach over 20-feet at Waimea Bay. It has only been held eight times in the last 27 years. One of the years it was won by Eddie’s own brother!
Bravery, balance, gentleness, respect: Those were the attributes of Eddie Aikau, and they are the cornerstones of Hawaiian surf culture.
Thanks for reading!