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Surfer Legend Eddie Aikau

Remembering the Life and Tragic Disappearance of Eddie Aikau

Eddie Aikau was born in Hawaii in 1946 and was one of the most famous surfers of his generation. He was also a skilled lifeguard, and his work saving people in the ocean earned him a reputation as a hero. However, it was his tragic disappearance while on a voyage with the Polynesian Voyaging Society in 1978 that made him a legend.

Aikau was on the crew of the Hokule’a, a traditional Polynesian canoe that was sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti. When the canoe started taking on water, Aikau volunteered to paddle his surfboard to get help. The crew decided to wait for rescue instead, but Aikau set out on his surfboard anyway. He was never seen again.

Aikau’s disappearance was a shock to the surfing community, and he became a symbol of bravery and selflessness. His legacy inspired the creation of the Eddie Aikau Foundation, which promotes education and environmental awareness.

The foundation’s efforts include a program called “Eddie Would Go Water Safety Education,” which offers resources and education on water safety and the risks involved in water sports and recreation. The program is a tribute to Aikau’s commitment to saving lives, and aims to prevent accidents and tragedies like the one that claimed his life.

Eddie Aikau’s life and legacy continue to inspire people around the world. He was a true hero who risked his life to save others, and his passion for the ocean and the environment lives on through the foundation that bears his name.


swells: large, rolling waves that move across the ocean’s surface

navigation: the process of planning and controlling the course of a ship or aircraft

flawless: perfect and without any faults or errors

rescue mission: an operation to save people who are in danger or distress

fierce: strong and powerful, often used to describe storms or waves

“disappear”: to vanish or become invisible

“desperate”: a situation where someone is willing to take extreme risks to achieve a goal or avoid a negative outcome

“perilous”: extremely dangerous or risky

“hypothermia”: a medical condition where the body’s temperature drops dangerously low due to exposure to cold temperatures

“paddled”: the act of moving a small boat or surfboard through the water using a paddle

“memorialize”: to create a monument or other form of remembrance to honor someone who has passed away

“sacrifice”: to give up something valuable or important for a greater cause or purpose

“adversity”: a difficult or challenging situation or condition

“legacy”: something that is handed down from the past, such as a tradition or an inheritance

“humility”: the quality of being modest and respectful towards others, even when one has achieved great success or recognition

About The Story

  1. Who was Eddie Aikau, and what made him famous?
  2. What was Eddie Aikau’s reputation as a lifeguard, and why was he considered a hero?
  3. What was the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and what was their mission?
  4. What happened to the Hokule’a, the traditional Polynesian canoe that Eddie Aikau was sailing on, and why did it start taking on water?
  5. What did Eddie Aikau do when the crew of the Hokule’a decided to wait for rescue instead of paddling his surfboard for help?
  6. What happened to Eddie Aikau, and why was his disappearance a shock to the surfing community?
  7. How has Eddie Aikau’s legacy inspired the creation of the Eddie Aikau Foundation, and what is its mission?
  8. What is the “Eddie Would Go Water Safety Education” program, and why was it created?
  9. How does the Eddie Aikau Foundation promote education and environmental awareness?
  10. How has Eddie Aikau’s legacy impacted the surfing community and ocean safety?
  11. What lessons can we learn from Eddie Aikau’s life and legacy?
  12. How has Eddie Aikau’s story inspired people around the world?

About You

  1. Have you ever heard of Eddie Aikau before reading this story?
  2. What do you think it means to be a hero? Would you consider Eddie Aikau a hero?
  3. How do you think Eddie Aikau’s surfing skills and lifeguard experience helped him on the Hokule’a voyage?
  4. Do you think the crew of the Hokule’a made the right decision in waiting for rescue instead of sending Eddie on his surfboard?
  5. How do you think Eddie Aikau’s legacy has impacted the surfing and water sports community?
  6. What do you think makes Eddie Aikau’s story so inspiring to people around the world?
  7. Have you ever been involved in any water sports or recreation activities? Do you feel that you are knowledgeable about water safety?
  8. What are some measures you can take to ensure your safety when participating in water sports or recreation activities?
  9. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed help in the water? How did you handle it?
  10. Do you think more education and awareness programs like the “Eddie Would Go Water Safety Education” program are necessary to prevent water-related accidents and tragedies?