Eddie Would Go


Photograph By Dan Merkel

The holding period has begun for the 30th annual “Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau”, a one-day big wave invitational surfing event requiring waves of at least 20 feet — wave face height over 30 feet– in order to be contested. The event, which has only been held 8 times in its history, was founded in recognition of the great Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau.

During the 1970’s, Eddie Aikau was considered one of the best big wave riders in the world. He was the first official lifeguard at Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore, and became recognized for pulling people out of waves that no one else would dare to. His life took on mythic proportions after his untimely death during the “Hokule’a” in 1978. During the 2500 mile traditional Hawaiian canoe voyage, retracing the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands, the canoe developed a leak and capsized in stormy weather. Aikau set out on his surfboard, paddling towards Lanai in an attempt to get help. The crew was later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, but despite great search efforts, Eddie was never seen again.

The “Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau” event was established in 1984 and was won by his brother Clyde Aikau in its first year. The popular phrase “Eddie Would Go” originated during that first contest. The waves were huge and conditions extremely dangerous. While the contest organizers were discussing whether to put it on, competitor Mark Foo looked out and said “Eddie would go.” The phrase stuck and spread around the Hawaiian Islands and rest of the world.

I have always loved the image above by Dan Merkel, which has become one of the most iconic images of Eddie Aikau. The minimal blue and yellow tonalities highlight the purity and beauty of the sport and let the soul of this lengendary waterman shine.