While the boys at Sunset had their hands full trying to cope with the biggest swell of the winter, a few miles away the world’s most esteemed watermen were gathering together to pay tribute to one of Hawaii’s greatest surfing legends, Eddie Aikau. The opening ceremony for The Eddie has been a historical and sentimental moment on the North Shore every winter, but with this year being the 25th anniversary of the event, the tribute held an even more spiritual tone.
When the congregation of invitees made the paddle a half-mile out to sea through the heaving shorebreak, they were met by one of the most sacred vessels in Hawaiian waters, the Hokuleia. This double-hulled vessel carried Eddie Aikau and a band of other Hawaiian navigators en route to Tahiti in 1978 when it capsized. Eddie went for help, but never returned. To have that very boat in the lineup at Waimea during the ceremony was a historical moment of significance and won’t soon be forgotten.
Bobbing amid the 15-foot sets, the ceremony commenced and the circle of surfers was formed. As is tradition, leis were dropped into the sea and the waters were churned upward by the arms of some of the world’s bravest. “Hokulei—Eddie” the circle repeated three times. Other sports have their ceremonies to honor their heroes…this is ours.
“It never gets old. The feeling I have right now, when I paddle out in the lineup with all of those guys, some of my heroes, it’s special and I’ll never forget it,” said Shane Dorian after returning from the ceremony.
If the sentimentality of the event wasn’t enough to make you reflect, event official George Downing stated that The Eddie will run this year. “Seven, eight or nine…It’s gonna happen one of those days,” said Downing, referring to a much-hyped behemoth of a swell set to unload on the islands beginning on the seventh of this month.
Stay locked to Surfermag.com, because when this swell comes, we’re going to be there.