Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Legendary surfer Eddie would go

It's a simple saying that most Hawaiians and surfers know by heart. It's the ultimate proverb of motivation and determination. It is commonly used when a surfer faces a big wave or simply adversity.

"Eddie would go."

Those three words carry more than meaning; they carry dreams and expectations. The saying was adapted in respect for one of the greatest surfing legends off all time, Eddie Aikau, whose life after his death became a myth told among those who once surfed with the fabled man.


Aikau's life began like a typical Oahu surfer. He grew up surfing the shores of Waikiki and worked endless hours at the Dole Plantation in hopes of purchasing his first real board.

Once Aikau was adjusted to the calm waves of Waikiki, he traveled up north to find the bigger and better waves along the island's North Shore.

The legend first took on Waimea Bay. One day he was out surfing against prodigies Greg Noll and Rick Grigg. Aikau dominated every set of waves that day. Photos from his outing appeared in Life magazine and unexpectedly, Aikau became a celebrity.

Aikau's occasional trips to the North Shore led him to become a lifeguard for the Sunset and Haleiwa areas. No lives were ever lost when he was on watch.

Aikau continued his surfing ways, winning tournaments and impressing fans. Eventually surfing lost its touch and he started looking for a more rewarding void.

Surfing was a part of Aikau's life, but Hawaii was his life.

An announcement was made across the island that the Polynesian Voyaging Society was searching for volunteers to recreate the journey of rediscovery aboard its replica canoe-Hokule'a. The Hokule'a trip was intended to retrace the ancient Polynesian voyage between the Hawaii and the Tahitian chain.

This was the announcement the Hawaiian was waiting for, and he did not hesitate at the opportunity.

The canoe set sail on March 1978 and had trouble from the start. The canoe had developed a leak and eventually capsized. Everyone was safe and was awaiting a response. Aikau's heart could not wait a second longer. He had to be the hero and he had to search for help. His last words were, "Don't worry, I can do it."

A few hours later, the crew was saved, but Aikau was missing.

He was never found. He went and never returned.

No one knows exactly what happened. Since his disappearance, a surf contest has been held in his honor known appropriately as the "Eddie." It is only held during the winter months and when waves hit 20 or more feet, because "Eddie would go."

Aikau wasn't afraid to pass on an opportunity, and his story should hold true for all citizens of the island.

Aikau's message should also hold true for all citizens of the mainland.

Simon Bairu took Aikau's message to heart Monday by winning his second consecutive NCAA title. Ditto for the entire men's cross country team, who won its first national title since 1988.

This Saturday, when the Wisconsin football team takes on Hawaii, will they go?

They have already missed one opportunity to secure a victory for Barry Alvarez in his final home game — an opportunity they will never have again.

Hawaii does have a less than stellar football program, boasting a 4-6 record to date. However, Wisconsin has been known to choke towards the end of the season and they are a Malihini (newcomer) to the island. This time will be different for the team — Alvarez will seek his redemption. It is only fitting. He is not the perfect coach and neither is his team — neither was Aikau.

Aikau is a legend of Hawaii and Alvarez is a legend in Madison. "Eddie would go," but will Alvarez? Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much).

Instead of posting comments about Shannon on message boards, email them to her at [email protected].

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