Sporting Heroes: Eddie Aikau, the bravest surfer of all
Saturday 09 November 2013
On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it’s not the widely known sporting icons who are the most revered, but surfer Eddie Aikau.
Surfing, invented by the ancient Hawaiians, was an integral part of Polynesian culture. Aikau took immense pride in his Polynesian heritage, and once he discovered his passion and talent for surfing, he dedicated his life to preserving the image of his culture, using only his board. He became a regular top contender in professional competitions and won the 1977 “Duke”, the most prestigious contest in Hawaii at the time.
Aikau was a big-wave surfing pioneer, braving waves far larger than most would dare. He was also the first lifeguard of Waimea Bay, a notoriously dangerous part of Oahu’s North Shore. Throughout his nine-year tenure, not a single life was lost. While 12th in the word surfing rankings, in 1971 Aikau was named lifeguard of the year.
In 1977, the Polynesian Voyaging Society sought volunteers for a crew of Hawaiians to sail 2,500 miles following the ancient route of Polynesian migration between Hawaii and Tahiti. The voyage would be completed on the Hokule’a, a double-hulled canoe of the kind the Polynesians had used over 600 years before. Unsurprisingly, Aikau raised his hand.
After months of training, he set sail with the rest of the crew on 16 March 1978, guided only by the stars. That first night, the Hokule’a sailed into a maelstrom. The crew fought it through the night, but the boat capsized. Fifteen miles from the nearest shore, rescue seemed impossible. The next morning, Aikau removed his lifejacket, so he could better swim, and, using a surfboard rescued from the Hokule’a, set off for land to find help.
Hours later, the crew’s last flare was spotted by an airline passenger. The coastguard was notified; the crew was rescued.
Aikau, who was 31, was never seen again.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
Latest in Sport
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...