Fellow surfer and writer, 10-year-old Wil Reid, wrote to us about Eddie Aikau –a surfer whose skill and integrity won Wil’s respect. We agreed and thought Wil’s story about Eddie belonged on The Cleanest Line. We look forward to hearing more from Wil as he pursues his dream to educate others about the power and importance of the ocean. Photos of the young author surfing can be seen after the jump.
Eddie Aikau: A Biography
Imagine a tall Hawaiian standing in front of you smiling and talking to his friends.Then he goes out and surfs and is as smooth as silk. He does not cut anyone off, and he is a master of what he does in small-size surf. When big surf comes, his brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin, and boardshorts hit the water. He catches a couple waves and then comes in and says hi in the most mellow voice and no worries. This is Eddie Aikau, surfing legend.
Eddie was born on the Hawaiian island of Maui on May 3, 1946. Actually, he was born “Edward Ryon Makuahini,” but he later shortened his name. He had a sister named Myra and a brother Clyde. Eddie was the oldest. Eddie was super close to his family. In 1959 his family moved to Oahu. Eddie learned to surf in Maui when he was thirteen years old. Eddie challenged himself on the shores of Oahu by surfing the biggest waves. Some people thought he was crazy! His family also liked surfing. Surfing soon became a family thing. Eddie, however, was the only one who would surf the monster waves. His family and friends would watch with pure amazement. He was like one with the ocean.
Eddie worked very hard to become a great lifeguard and big wave surfer. Eddie was the first lifeguard on the North Shore of Oahu at Waimea Bay. When he was a lifeguard, no one died on his watch. Eddie’s brother always said, “Eddie always put people before himself.” Eddie was also known for fearlessly surfing waves 40- 60 ft high. His favorite surf spot was Waimea Bay. He liked to surf 7’8 – 10’6 surfboards, the size he liked to surf on when the waves were bigger. When the waves were big, you could always find Eddie at the “Bay.” He was magical.
Eddie’s dream was simple. He wished that everybody would treat others as they wanted to be treated. Eddie loved making people laugh. He liked seeing people smile. Eddie genuinely just wanted people to be happy. Eddie loved being a lifeguard and hoped others would risk their lives, like he did. Eddie always put others before himself.
Unfortunately, Eddie died when he was 32 years old. He died while searching for land to rescue his friends. Eddie and his friends were on an historical sailing voyage from Waimea Bay to Tahiti when they got lost. Eddie left the sailboat on his surfboard to find help. The friends on the boat got rescued, but Eddie was never found. Still, his spirit lives on! There is a contest dedicated to Eddie on the North Shore of Oahu when the waves are 40 – 60 feet. Eddie had a true passion for the ocean and its waves.
I chose to write about Eddie Aikau because I love learning about the history of my favorite sport, surfing. I also chose Eddie because I respect him: He surfed the biggest waves in the world, and he was a good person. I was lucky enough to go to the Eddie Aikau Memorial Contest in 2004. I then realized the power and intensity of the ocean. Someday I hope to educate people on the power and the importance of the ocean. We need to keep our oceans clean!
Wil Reid doing what his dad taught him. Del Mar, California.
We’d like to send birthday greetings to Wil who is 10-years-old today – have a great birthday, Wil.