Disappeared: Eddie Aikau, missing 35 years.

Edward Ryan Makua Hanai Aikau, commonly known as Eddie, was an ace surfer, a patriotic Hawaiian, and a good friend to everyone who knew him. During the 1970s he haunted the Waimea shore in Hawaii, and as a lifeguard saved dozens of lives. In 1978 he was chosen to be part of the crew of a recreated ancient Hawaiian canoe, the Hokule’a, on an experimental voyage.

Here is how Charley Project’s casefile describes Eddie’s disappearance which occurred in March 1978:

The crew was near the Kaiwi Channel at the time of the incident. A wave hit the canoe and its impact caused the Hokule’a to flip over. The crew members spent the night clinging to the overturned hull. No one responded to the flares they lit at the scene. Some members were doubtful that rescue efforts would arrive in time.

Aikau estimated that Lanai was approximately 12 miles away from the capsized craft. The crew’s officers agreed that he should paddle on his surfboard to locate assistance. It was impossible to gauge an accurate distance to land from the crew’s location at the time. Aikau tied his board’s leash to one of his ankles and hung a portable strobe light and oranges around his neck. He tied a life jacket around his waist before paddling away from the canoe. Several crew members saw Aikau toss the life jacket into the surf several hundred feet away from the canoe. He was last seen riding on his board as he paddled into the distance. Aikau has never been heard from again.

The Hokule’a’s remaining crew members were rescued several hours after Aikau left the scene. The largest air and sea search in Hawaiian history was initialized after authorities were unable to locate any trace of Aikau in the surf. His board and supplies were never recovered. He was presumed to have drowned at sea.

Eddie Aikau’s heroic sacrifice has gone down in legend, and Eddie remains to this day, 35 years later, a folk hero among Hawaiians and the Waimea surfing culture. The slogan “Eddie Would Go” has become part of Hawaiian popular culture. A famous surf contest was named after Eddie, and it’s one of the most anticipated events in the surfing calendar.

I made a video about Eddie Aikau. Here it is.

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4 Comments

    1. Where? Where? Where? Just finished watching his documentary on Netflix and it blows my mind it was officially never found. Even if shark attack or whatevers — his board would be floating or washed into shore somewhere. Spill da beans, please please please!

  1. Ehh. Is this just another story or some kind of joke to bob hasbrook? Do you realize the agony and tears us hawaiians have for eddie and you you haoles full of no breath come and talk jokingly about you know where his board is. ?? We dont care for his board its a tragedy for someone soo brave to even attempt what eddie had tried and you foolish white man come on social media and stir jokes about his board and how you know where it is ? What is wrong with you haoles? Have you no respect and sympothy or heart for a noble man as eddie? How does anyone even dare comment with such ignorance on a topic that means soo much to the people of hawaii nei and more so his family nd not care or choose wisely what they say about a young and humble soldier a tru warrior and speak soo wrecklessly without thinking first that this man could never be you or i.. How dare you speak so blatantly and say you know where his surfboard is and joke about it it is a memory that was soo precious a man that was soo beautifully built by god and with such love he risked his own life to get back to the islands to save those people on the hokulei’a which all 10 people did survive including the haoles but fact that he had love for all of them and you dare utter such worthless words on social media. How does that make you feel? How can someone be soo naive and obnoxious to what such beauty was in this man and just not think vefore speaking or commenting on this mans category. Eddie would go and haoles cause holes. Think twice before you speak mister man. Aloha.

    1. Well said. I have only heard stories until Drunk History, which was a surprisingly sweet presentation of his story. Even that short piece of his story almost made me cry. If only more were like Eddie Aikau.

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