The only life he ever lost trying to save was his own.
Eddie Aikau was a legendary Hawaiian surfer known for his skill on the big waves, as well as a lifeguard who saved hundreds of lives from the dangerous surf of the Northern shore of Oahu.
But for his last attempt at salvation, he is loved in the Hawaiian community. To honor the memory of the legendary surfer and lifeguard, Google dedicated an animated Doodle to Aikau on the day of his 73rd birthday.
Almost as long as Google exists, it animates its search page with barebone-graphics that draw attention to notable people, events, holidays and anniversaries. Google doodles have celebrated, among many other things, Pac-Man’s anniversary, Copernicus ‘ birthday, Mother’s Day, and the World Cup, and remind us of lesser-known real heroes.
Aikau was one of those real-world heroes.
Born on May 4, 1946, in Maui, Aikau was a descendant of high priest king Kamehameha I. After his family moved to Oahu, at the age of 16, he dropped out of school to get a job at the Dole pineapple cannery; his salary allowed him to buy his first surfboard.
In 1967, Aikau was hired as the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, where waves often reach 30 feet or higher. He has earned the salvation of more than 500 people in his short career, never losing a soul on his watch.
Aikau also left his mark as a surfer with a big wave, overcoming all the strong waves on the North shore between 1967 and 1978.
“Eddie was a pretty quiet guy, but when there was a problem, or there was a risk or a game that everyone wanted to win, Eddie seemed to have climbed to the top,” said his younger brother Clyde. profile published by the manufacturer of surfboards Quiksilver. “He was high risk at an early age.”
In professional surfing, Aikau ranked 12th among the best in the world and won several surfing awards, including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku surfing championship.
In 1978, he was selected to join the crew of a cultural expedition between Hawaii and Tahiti on the Polynesian floating canoe Hokulea. During a 30-day 2,500-mile voyage, a double-hull canoe found a leak and capsized about 12 miles South of Molokai island.
In an effort to help the team, ICOI jumped on a surfboard to the island of Lanai. The crew was eventually rescued by the U.S. coast guard, but Aikau was never seen again.
In 1985, a surf tournament on the big wave was organized in Waimea Bay called “Invitation to the big wave Quiksilver in memory of Eddie Aikau”, aka Eddie, in honor of the heritage of Aikau. Before the competition can be conducted, the rules of the tournament require that waves in the open ocean must be a minimum height of 20 feet, which typically leads to the appearance of waves in the Gulf about 30 feet.
As a result, the tournament was held only nine times, the last time in 2016.