Native lifeguard Luke Shepardson claims historic win at ‘The Eddie’

Local lifeguard Luke Shepardson claims historic win at 'The Eddie'

One of many world’s most prestigious and storied browsing contests — dubbed the “Tremendous Bowl of Browsing” — went ahead Sunday for the primary time in seven years with towering wave faces and a huge swell that was anticipated to develop all through the day.

Native lifeguard Luke Shepardson, 27, took house the win Sunday afternoon, whereas nonetheless actively working guarding shifts. He’s the primary lifeguard to win ‘The Eddie,’ and can be added to the checklist of victors amongst different surf legends like John John Florence, Bruce Irons, Kelly Slater and extra.

Among the many 40 invitees, feminine surfers competed alongside the lads for the primary time within the 39-year historical past of The Eddie Aikau Massive Wave Invitational.

The occasion — alternatively recognized merely as The Eddie — is a one-day contest held in Waimea Bay on Oʻahu’s North Shore solely when the surf is persistently giant sufficient in the course of the winter big-wave browsing season from mid-December by way of mid-March. The wind, the tides and the path of the swell additionally should be excellent.

“Giant sufficient” means 20 toes by Hawaiʻi measurements. That’s equal to about 40 toes when measured by strategies utilized in the remainder of the U.S. Earlier than this yr, situations have solely aligned for it to be held 9 occasions for the reason that preliminary competitors in 1984.

Organizer Clyde Aikau mentioned at a information convention Friday that he was anticipating waves to succeed in 25 to 30 toes by Hawaiʻi measurements or 50 to 60 toes on the nationwide scale — and the situations have been assembly expectations.

On Sunday, the units have been already massive, with the swell anticipated to develop because the day went on, and an estimated 60,000 individuals packed the seashores and surrounding space to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. One enormous wave swept onto the seaside and hit a household, sweeping a child underneath a home, however the youngster was not injured, Hawaii Information Now reported.

“We’ve been 30-foot to 40-foot wave faces for essentially the most half, (and) the most important waves of the day are going to be in extra of 45 toes. By native scale, they’ll name these waves 25 toes — and we’ve seen a pair units like that already,” Kevin Wallis, director of forecasting at, mentioned by cellphone Sunday morning.

“It’s wonderful, it’s actually cool to see and it’s such a uncommon and prestigious occasion, and there’s numerous power and numerous buzz round, for positive,” he mentioned.

Different locations around the globe have massive wave browsing occasions: Mavericks in California, Nazare in Portugal and Peʻahi on Hawaiʻi’s Maui Island. However writer Stuart Coleman says The Eddie is distinguished by the way it honors Eddie Aikau, a legendary Native Hawaiian waterman, for his selflessness, braveness and sacrifice.

“What makes this contest essentially the most distinctive is that it’s in reminiscence of a selected particular person who actually has transcended his time and place when he lived,” mentioned Coleman, who wrote “Eddie Would Go,” a biography of Aikau.

Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau rose to prominence as the primary lifeguard employed by Honolulu to work on Oʻahu’s North Shore and was revered for saving over 500 individuals throughout his profession. He’s additionally well-known for browsing towering waves that nobody else would dare trip.


Aikau died in 1978 on the age of 31 throughout an expedition to sail a conventional Polynesian voyaging canoe from Honolulu to Tahiti. Simply hours out of port, the large double-hulled canoe often known as the Hokulea took on water and overturned in stormy climate. Aikau volunteered to paddle a number of miles to close by Lanaʻi Island on his surfboard to get assist for the remainder of the crew however was by no means seen once more.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the remaining crew a number of hours later after being alerted by a business airplane that noticed the canoe.

Coleman mentioned The Eddie is about the most effective of big-wave browsing and the most effective of Hawaiian tradition.

“They at all times say on the opening ceremony, the place they collect to launch the holding interval, ’This isn’t only a contest. We’re not browsing in opposition to one another. We’re browsing within the spirit of Eddie,’ ” Coleman mentioned.

Keala Kennelly of Kauai, a ladies’s massive wave surf champion, was among the many feminine invitees.

Mindy Pennybacker, a surf columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and writer of the upcoming e-book, “Browsing Sisterhood Hawaiʻi: Wahine Reclaiming the Waves,” mentioned there has lengthy been an assumption that Waimea was too harmful for girls they usually couldn’t surf there.

She mentioned ladies needed to struggle to be included and have in the meantime proven that they might deal with massive waves in spots around the globe.

“To see ladies — not solely ladies browsing Waimea however men and women sharing the identical occasion collectively, with mutual respect and equality — I’m simply actually thrilled on the thought,” Pennybacker mentioned.