People slept overnight on the beach at Waimea Bay to get a good spot for viewing. Police estimate that 30,000 people are crammed into the valley for the Eddie. They've got Big Island boy Shane Dorian (my fav), seven-time world champion Kelly Slater, Eddie Aikau's relative Clyde Aikau (who's 60-freaking-years old!), and a whole bunch of other cool dudes. They compete by invitation-only, and if there was ever a day when I desperately wanted to be back home, today would be it. I want to be at the Eddie.
Two stories: Eddie Aikau was the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay, born and raised on North Shore, descended from a kahuna nui (high priest), and a crew member on the Hokule'a voyaging canoe's maiden voyage. The Hokule'a, still sailing today, was built according to ancient Hawaiian traditions. Its navigators use no modern instruments to sail, only stars and wind and waves, so on its maiden voyage, when it capsized and stranded the crew in the open ocean, there was no way for them to call for rescue. Eddie volunteered to take his surfboard and paddle to Lanai to get help. The last anyone ever saw of him, he was paddling away from the Hokule'a and tossing away his lifejacket. The rest of the Hokule'a canoe managed to flag down a passing airplane and continue their voyage to Tahiti, but Eddie was lost to the ocean, because--here it comes--Eddie would go.
Hence, the Eddie Aikau.
Second story: my first winter on Oahu, my roommate Robin and I got up at 4 in the morning to catch the 55 bus from Kaneohe to North Shore to watch the Haleiwa Surf Conest. The college dorm had chartered a van to take students up to the contest, but Robin and I always were unconventional, and that day it paid off. The surf had been so big the night before that the road up to North Shore was closed for all traffic--except the public bus. Robin and I were the only people in the bus, on a deserted beach highway, watching the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean on the way to the surf contest. And Robin, good Southern Californian girl from San Clemente that she is, nearly fell over with excitement when she got her picture taken with Kelly Slater.