At 66, legendary surfer Clyde Aikau takes on huge Waimea Bay waves

Published: Feb. 25, 2016 at 6:49 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2016 at 3:55 AM HST
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(Image: @dshormann/Instagram)
(Image: @dshormann/Instagram)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIMEA BAY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Chicken skin.

That's how spectators described what it felt like to see legendary surfer Clyde Aikau, 66, paddle out at Thursday's Eddie Aikau big-wave contest.

Aikau, who entered the water with big cheers from the crowd, took waves topping 45 feet that would scare off surfers many years his junior.

This will be Aikau's final Eddie before retiring. He won the elite surfing contest, which honors his brother's memory, in 1986. That was the second time the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest was held.

After the competition on Thursday, Aikau said he wanted to retire on a high note -- but he's not planning to give up big-wave surfing.

"I still have the passion to ride big waves," Aikau said. "I just think it's time, as an athlete, to pass the torch on."

On social media, surfing enthusiasts were amazed to see Aikau holding his own against the monster surf.

On Twitter, Teija Soufl said watching Aikau take on Waimea Bay's huge waves left her inspired.

"What are you doing today?" she asked.

Twitter user Wade Inn said simply, "Clyde Aikau, 66 years old, surfing mountainous waves."

Another spectator said, "How can you not have major goosebumps watching 66-year-old Clyde Aikau go out to surf 50-foot waves in honor of his brother? Amazing!"

Early Thursday, it was Aikau who took to a microphone at Waimea Bay to announce the surf competition was a "go" for the first time since 2009.

"I know it was a hard trek. We are humbled and privileged that everybody is here," he told thousands of spectators at the bay. "I've been riding Waimea bay for over 40 years and today has to be one of the best days I've seen."

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