Book Review – Eddie Would Go
not hard to run into Eddie Aikau these days. From the famous image of
Eddie cruising a big wave across the face of a Bank of America check, to
the Internet tributes, clothing lines, and Quiksilver’s surfing
competition in his honor, Eddie is everywhere. Now you can finally get the full story about Hawaii’s
undisputed “King of Waimea Bay” in Stuart Holmes Coleman’s memorable
portrait, Eddie Would Go.
on land, but fearless on the water”, Eddie Aikau was one of Hawaii’s
legendary surfers, and in the hands of Coleman his story reads like a myth
sprung to life. During his early days living with his family beside the
grounds of a Chinese graveyard in Pauoa Valley, Eddie quickly fell in love
with his ancestral pasttime. Graduating from pai-po-board to “elephant
gun”, it wasn’t long before he built a reputation as an unstoppable
big-wave rider. Massive sets that would drive seasoned surfers back to
shore were towering invitations that Aikau rarely passed up. As the first
official lifeguard of Waimea Bay, Eddie made almost impossible rescues
under severe weather conditions. Utterly fearless on the big waves, a
hotdog when necessary – just watch his winning performance in the 1977
Duke Classic – Aikau was a natural waterman who had a profound respect
for the ocean.
the seventies, surfers were descending on Hawaii from all over the world,
eager to shred the smaller sets at the South Shore, or pit themselves
against the thundering power of Waimea Bay. Some surfers, while bringing a
new competitive edge and frenetic style to the sport, also brought tough
words for the resident wave-sliders. But while others got caught up in the
local tension, Aikau became a spiritual role model for both factions, a
natural philosopher who believed in both the heritage of his people and
making room for others. If Eddie was the unofficial ambassador of surfing,
the Aikau clan was the first family of aloha. Parties always lit up the
Aikau compound, and many visitors to the island were taken in by the
loving family and treated with Hawaiian hospitality.
believed strongly in the Hawaiian adage, “Never turn your back on the
ocean”, but his years as a lifeguard taught him to help those in danger.
The latter sentiment would win out and prematurely end his life at the age
of thirty-three when he attempted to bring help to his stranded crew-mates
on the capsized sailing canoe, Hokulea. Eddie Aikau was lost at sea on
March 16, 1978.
A lifelong surfer himself, Stuart Holmes Coleman vividly captures the power and the glory of Hawaii’s “outdoor cathedral”, from Eddie’s assault on the waves at Waimea Bay in 1967, to the wipe-outs, victories and unforgettable moments that shaped the lives of the “majestic aristocracy” of surfing. A tale both heartfelt and inspiring, Eddie Would Go isn’t just for surfers. It should be required reading for those of us who are determined to live a good life.
Would Go, by Stuart Holmes Coleman