Google Celebrates Eddie Aikau’s 73rd Birthday

Today, Google has recognized the Hawaiʻi’s famed waterman, and Hōkūleʻa crewmember Eddie Aikau with original Doodle art on its main search page.

Eddie Aikau

Eddie’s history with Hōkūleʻa is both celebrated and tragic. “I must tell you about Eddie, because he had, and still has, great influence on me; he’s one of my great teachers,” said master navigator Nainoa Thompson in an interview in the Kamehameha Journal of Education. 

Aikau on the day the Hōkūleʻa set sail. Photo courtesy of David Bettencourt.

“Eddie had this dream about finding islands the way our ancestors did. Whenever I feel down, I look at Eddie and I recall his dream. He was a great teacher. He was a lifeguard … he guarded life, and he lost his own, trying to guard ours. Eddie cared about others and took care of others,” said Nainoa.

“After Eddie’s death, we could have quit. But then Eddie wouldn’t have had his dream fulfilled. He was my spirit. He was saying to me, ‘Raise those islands.’

Here’s more from Google:

Today’s Doodle celebrates Eddie Aikau, big wave surfer, lifeguard, and enduring symbol of Hawaiian heritage. Born on the island of Maui on this day in 1946, Eddie moved to Oahu with his family in 1959 and went on to become the first lifeguard hired by Honolulu officials to work on the North Shore of the island.

Not a single life was lost while he served as a lifeguard at Waimea Bay, making some 500 rescues without the assistance of a jet ski or any modern equipment. Eddie was famous for making rescues even in surf that reached 30 feet high. His fearlessness went on to inspire the slogan “Eddie would go.”

Hailing from a surfing family, Eddie was one of the first native Hawaiians to win the prestigious Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship in 1977, just four years after his older brother Clyde, who was the very first. Aside from his distinguished surfing career, Eddie found other ways to represent the culture of his native island. In 1978, Eddie joined the crew of Hōkūleʻa, a historically accurate double-hulled canoe retracing the ancient Polynesian migration route to Hawaii. The vessel sprung a leak and capsized in rough waters. Eddie was last seen heroically paddling off on his surfboard towards the nearest island to seek help for the crew, who were later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Today, Eddie’s legacy lives on through the Eddie Aikau Foundation as well as the prestigious Eddie Aikau Invitational, which has seen some of big-wave surfing’s greatest names competing with maximum respect for the authenticity of surf culture.

Here’s to you, Eddie.

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