Someone once asked me if I’d ever heard of a famous Hawaiian surfer by the name of Eddie Woodgo. If that’s doesn’t make you crack a small smile then here’s a brief explanation of what this Eddie business is all about and why you may have to put everything on hold tomorrow to watch one of surfing greatest events.
Eddie Aikau (below) was a lifeguard on The North Shore (of Oahu) back in the seventies. He charged massive Wiamea Bay without hesitation, hence the popular bumper sticker “Eddie Would Go”. Here at Surf Simply, when we teach etiquette lessons, we discuss the issue of respect and how many surfers believe that respect should only be given to the best surfers or the locals. We believe respect should be given to everyone and Eddie was the embodiment of this. He saved many lives in the water and arguable a few out of it when he stepped in to settle the tensions caused by the influx of Aussie surfers onto Oahu during the birth of professional surfing (’74). There’s an great movie about this called “Bustin’ Down The Door” which every surfer should see.
Eddie sadly died in ’78 when he paddled to get help from a stranded boat 12 miles off the coast of Molokai. He was part of a team trying to recreate the ancient Polynesian migration from Tahiti to Hawaii but the canoe he was in developed a leak and capsized.
In 1987 Quiksilver ran the first ever Eddie Aikua Big Wave Memorial Contest At Wiamea Bay. Each 26 of the world’s best big wave surfers are invited. There is a two month waiting period and the contest will only run if the waves are over 20ft (that’s a Hawaiian 20ft which means more like 30ft on the face). The contest has only been run 8 times in the last 24 years so when the Eddie is on it’s ‘down tools’ for the duration of the event. The big news is that it looks like tomorrow may be the day! Log onto The Eddie contest website to find out the latest news and watch the event live.
The last time the event was run was in December 2009. Everything stopped here at the Surf Simply Resort as we watched the madness unfold on the big TV by the pool. (Check out the highlights below.)
Wiamea Bay has a history all of it’s own which is beautifully outlined in the film Riding Giants (below, which you also have to see if you haven’t already).