Ask anyone from Hawaii, and they’ll tell you that Hawaiian big-wave surfer Eddie Aikau died a legend. To be honest, that’s all I really knew about him. In school, we learned that after the Hokulea capsized during its 1978 maiden voyage, Eddie volunteered to paddle his surfboard and get help for fellow crew members but never made it.
He was a “legend” for risking his life to help others, but after watching the very moving documentary on Eddie, called “Hawaiian,” I now understand that there was much more to this Hawaiian surfer than most realize. First off, Eddie fit the criteria as not only a pioneer big-wave surfer but an all-around waterman as well. He had a flawless rescue record as the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, saving nearly 500 lives!
Eddie also displayed a persistent and determined attitude throughout his life; most notably, through the Duke Kahanamoku Classic, a big-wave competition on Oahu’s North Shore. He tried year after year to place first, but it wasn’t until much later (and older) that he finally did. The documentary shows actual footage of his winning speech, which ended with his dedication to “all the Hawaiians!”
I really enjoyed watching the segments with vintage footage of Eddie, especially when he spoke. He spoke in heavy Pidgin-English, which you don’t hear too often nowadays. Regardless, it’s nice to make all those connections when watching his documentary. The most revealing perhaps was the reason for the very popular saying, “Eddie Would Go.”
We see that on car bumpers and shop windows everywhere. There’s even t-shirts and other memorabilia to go with that saying. But where does it come from? It comes from a fellow Hokulea crew member, who watched as Eddie paddled away on his surfboard. She shares with the interviewer that all she kept repeating in her head was, “Go, Eddie, Go. Go, Eddie, Go!”
“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” debuted on ESPN’s “30 for 30” series but can also be viewed on YouTube at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO3u4xQ9BC0.
Photo Courtesy: Wiki Commons