Honolulu lifeguard Luke Shepardson wins ‘The Eddie’ contest

  • JAMM AQUINO / [email protected]

    Luke Shephardson is raised up after winning the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

                                Pedestrians and motorists crowd Kamehameha Highway early today for the 2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / [email protected]

    Pedestrians and motorists crowd Kamehameha Highway early today for the 2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay.

Luke Shepardson won the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational today at Waimea Bay.

Shepardson, a Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguard, scored 89.1 points out of a possible 90 to edge out defending champion John John Florence.

>> BLOG: Luke Shepardson crowned winner of ‘The Eddie’ surf contest

Thousands looked on from the North Shore beach and nearby higher ground.

To run the contest, Waimea Bay’s waves must consistently be equivalent to about 40 feet (about 20 feet Hawaiian-style) with the right wind conditions. This was the 10th time “The Eddie” — named for legendary Hawaiian big-wave surfer and lifeguard Eddie Aikau — was held in its 38 years of existence.

Florence won the last Eddie in 2016. No one has won more than once.

A total of 40 athletes were invited, plus alternates. They surfed in two rounds of five heats each, with each competitor riding a maximum of four waves in each round. The best three of the possible eight rides count toward their score.

For the first time, women were invited and six competed. Andrea Moller made history as the first female to ride a competitive wave at “The Eddie.”

Eddie Aikau was lost at sea and presumed to have died in March 1978. The 31-year-old crew member of the Hokule’a tried to swim for help after the Hawaiian voyaging vessel capsized 12 miles south of Molokai during a storm. The rest of the crew was rescued.

The first contest in honor of Aikau was held at Sunset Beach in 1985. Aikau’s brother Clyde won in 1987 after the event moved to Waimea Bay. Clyde Aikau is now a tournament director.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included the incorrect score for Luke Shepardson.

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