Opening ceremonies commence for Aikau invitational - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Opening ceremonies commence for Aikau invitational

Clyde Aikau Clyde Aikau
Helen Wilkie Helen Wilkie
Eddie Aikau Eddie Aikau

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

NORTH SHORE (KHNL) - Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore is where hundreds honored a Hawaiian surfing hero.

"The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau" is known as the most prestigious big-wave surfing event in the world.

With friends, family and surfing fanatics from around the world in attendance, the opening ceremony was full of excitement. They were all there for one reason, to honor the life of Eddie Aikau, the waterman, the hero, the legend.

From Chile and South Africa to right here in Hawaii, these are the best of the best big wave riders from around the world, all here for Eddie Aikau.

"He always put people before himself and I think that means a lot to a lot of people. Helping out other people in small ways and big ways. You might not give your life for them but to help them out is what his spirit is really all about," said Eddie's Younger Brother Clyde Aikau.

Aikau tragically lost his life in 1978. The 33-year-old's voyaging canoe Hokule'a capsized; he paddled off to get help for the others but was never seen again.

Helen Wilkie came all the way from Australia to be at the event.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, Eddie was such a surfing Idol. I wanted to pay my respects," said Australia Visitor Helen Wilkie.

Big name entrants like Kelly Slater and family, friends and other onlookers watch as contest surfers perform the traditional paddle out ceremony. Its purpose is special.

"Giving ho'okupu to Eddie. A small little gift for him a lei, a flower just that recognition is monumental," said Clyde Aikau.

Together, each of the 28 entrants and other alternates form a circle on their boards at sea. Their hearts connected, their hands linked to remember the legacy that is Eddie Aikau.

"The Eddie" will only go on if the waves reach 40 feet or higher. But, organizers say even if the event doesn't go on, it will still be a good warm-up opportunity for the surfers.

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