No rest for the winner: After clinching ‘Eddie’ title, this city lifeguard is back at work
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just day after taking on giant waves at Waimea Bay and emerging victorious ― as the 2023 champion of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational ― city lifeguard Luke Shepardson is back to work.
Shephardson etched his name into the history books after beating out the world’s best big-wave surfers.
It’s a day he’ll never forget.
“It’s like a tornado hit me,” Shepardson told Hawaii News Now.
Shephardson said he’s also gotten a mountain of praise and aloha since winning the Eddie. The 27-year-old used his lunch breaks to compete at Waimea Bay ― and then back to work after winning.
Competing at the bay was a dream he’s had all of his life.
“When I grabbed my jersey for the first heat I started tearing up and crying,” Shepardson said.
“I was like, I am really surfing an Eddie Aikau contest. It’s like been one of the hugest dreams of mine.”
And he jokes he was almost late to work Sunday because of all the traffic.
“So I jumped out of the car, I grabbed my fins and told my girlfriend to drive and then I ran to work.” Shepardson said.
“It took her about a half hour to make it from Foodland to Waimea.”
Immediately after winning “the Eddie,” there were immediate connections made to the contest’s namesake, a longtime lifeguard on the North Shore. Shepardson says Aikau has long been a hero.
“He did so many selfless acts to help other people around him and then his love for the ocean that’s what I really admire about him and it’s what I try to do myself,” he said.
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For his family, watching him achieve his childhood dream brought back memories of long days on the North Shore.
“So happy for him because he’s wanted this since he was a little kid,” said Luke’s brother, Micah. “Us going out to the beach and him wanting to stay past dark.”
After that big win Sunday, Shepardson lived up to his humble, down-to-earth nature.
“We went home, made some pizza and ate pizza and went to sleep,” he said, laughing.
And don’t expect to see Shepardson’s name on the surf contest line-up.
He says the only other contest he’ll be entering is next year’s “Eddie.”
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