This Year Eddie Would Go…

Eddie Aikau is one of the most iconic and well-respected names in surfing. He is known to be the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, here on the island of Oahu.

Through his life, he saved many lives and became known as a big-wave surfer. A first surfer who dared to paddle out and surf the waves of Waimea Bay during a big swell.

Eddie, Edward Ryon Makuahanai “Eddie” Aikau, was originally born on the island of Maui. A few years after moving to Oahu and leaving school to help financially support his family, he became the first lifeguard on the North Shore.

While he served as a lifeguard at Waimea Bay, not a single life was lost. He was one of the very few, brave enough to paddle out to waves reaching over 20 feet high to make a rescue. During his time as a lifeguard Eddie rescued over 500 people and in 1971, he was named Lifeguard of the year.

Eddie became well known for surfing big waves and he won several surfing awards, for instance, a First Place at the prestigious 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship. When overlooking big waves, the local Hawaiians used to say ‘Eddie Would Go’, referring to his braveness and stoke for big waves which other surfers would not dare to surf. Not to mention Eddie’s determination and courage to make a rescue in impossible conditions. So the ‘Eddie Would Go’ saying was born which brings us to one of the most known big wave surf events, Eddie Aikau. And this year Eddie is going to return.

The Eddie, Big Wave Surfing Tournament
According to Mac Simpson (maritime historian), “Aikau was a legend on the North Shore, pulling people out of waves that no one else would dare to. That’s where the saying came from. Eddie would go when no one else would or could. Only Eddie dared. The phrase originated during the first Eddie contest. The waves were huge and the conditions were extremely dangerous. While the contest organizers were discussing whether to put it on, Mark Foo looked at the conditions and said: “Eddie would go.” The phrase stuck and the Eddie went!’

The first Eddie was held at Sunset Beach in 1985, and after the event moved to Waimea Eddie’s younger brother Clyde won the first Eddie. So far the competition has only been held eight times, as the swell needed for this particular event needs to reach a minimum of 20 feet. Hence why the tournament has only been held nine times, most recently in February 2016. The contest has two rounds and only invites 28 big-wave riders to participate. The event does not allow the use of jet skis to tow surfers into the waves.

The event was formerly known as the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau after its sponsor Quiksilver. However, this year the event has new local sponsors, including the Kamehameha Schools, Waimea Valley and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), along with the Aikau family to keep this iconic big-wave event alive and thriving.

This Year, Eddie would go
This year the contest will run if surf reaches heights of a consistent 20 feet between December 1, 2018, through February 28, 2019. And so on Thursday, at the very bay of Waimea, we celebrated Eddie with the event’s opening ceremony. Eddie’s spirit was felt truly alive and present amongst the people who joined the ceremony. You can find this year’s invitees bellow, of who all described their feelings as being “humbled and honored” to be invited to this event.


  • Grant Baker
  • Lucas Chianca
  • Ross Clarke-Jones
  • Danilo Couto
  • Shane Dorian
  • Nathan Fletcher
  • John John Florence
  • Nathan Florence
  • Sunny Garcia
  • Aaron Gold
  • Mark Healey
  • Mason Ho
  • Bruce Irons
  • Billy Kemper
  • Keala Kennelly
  • Zeke Lau
  • Kai Lenny
  • Greg Long
  • Keali‘i Mamala
  • Garrett McNamara
  • Jamie Mitchell
  • Jamie O’Brien
  • Joel Parkinson
  • Makuakai Rothman
  • Koa Rothman
  • Kelly Slater
  • Takayuki Wakita
  • Ian Walsh
  • Dave Wassel

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