What pushes us beyond what would normally be
expected? I couldn't help but wonder about these
questions as I watched surfers take on the massive
waves during contest held in honor of
Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu
the other day.
The "Eddie" is a special event. In order for contest
director George Downing to allow the contest to begin
the waves must be giant, 25 feet or higher. In the
25 years since its' inception the "Eddie" has only been
run a handful of times. It is a contest like no other.
Simply being selected as a participant or alternate is a
great honor. Surfers capable of, and motivated to paddle in
and ride waves of such enormous size are a breed apart. These
surfers push themselves over the edge of mountains when
most other mortals would be paddling in the opposite direction to
avoid even the possibility of having to ride such waves. What
makes them do it?
Giant waves can and have killed people. Riding a wave into the
giant shorebreak at Waimea is life threatening. You'd never
have known if you were watching the feats of Ramon Navarro,
Greg Long, Kelly Slater or some of the others. They seemed almost
casual in their approach. Clyde Aikau at age 60 charged the biggest
set waves risking his life. Why you might ask? Where was their fear?
What happened to that switch in the brain that warns us, tries to
protect us and keep us safe? Were they afraid? If they were afraid
what permitted them to push the fear aside and go? I know that none
felt that they'd do anything other than make the drop, make the wave,
survive the day and celebrate their participation in the "Eddie",
celebrate their participation in one of life's special moments.
Maybe we all need to learn from those who surfed in this years
"Eddie". Perhaps we all need to push the fear aside and celebrate
participating with the knowledge that we too will make it through,
and that it will be a memorable event in our lives.