Eddie Aikau remembered in big wave surfing event
It was the who's who of surfing -- 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, Hawaii's John John Florence, the fresh face and future of surfing, and big wave rider Garrett McNamara. They're all hoping for some big surf for Eddie.
"As a big wave rider, the event you just dream," said Garrett McNamara, talking about the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau.
"To be invited to the event is one of the biggest honors you can have, especially in the surfing industry," said Florence. "The list of names that have been in this event and still in this event, it's all legends, pretty much. So cool to see these guys we've looked up to since we were little."
The holding period officially kicked off on Thursday with a traditional Hawaiian ceremony to honor Eddie Aikau, who died in 1978 when the canoe Hokule'a capsized. Eddie swam to seek help for stranded crew members but was never seen again.
"Thirty years later, we still miss him. We still love him. He's still my brother. We wish that he were here, but his sole travels and his thoughts and memories are remembered every year at this time," said Solomon Aikau.
"Me and my brother Eddie, we did everything together. Rode the biggest waves in the world. Saved lives. Hundreds of lives for 10 years. Proud to say, we never lost one person here at Waimea Bay. Just an honor and thrill to hang with Eddie for so many years and we miss him," said Clyde Aikau.
Invited surfers paddled out to the Hokule'a, which made a special stop at Waimea Bay, before its upcoming worldwide voyage, to honor Eddie.
"Eddie embodied the Aloha Spirit and I know that up there looking down on us, he's gotta be proud," said McNamara. "I'm so honored and proud to surf in memory of him."
"For us, a real honor to have a lot of people recognize Eddie. What he really did in life, helping people, saving lives," said Clyde Aikau.
This is the 29th anniversary of the Eddie, but the event has only been held eight times, the last being in 2009 when the waves and conditions were big enough.
The holding period ends on Feb. 28, 2014.
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