Legends tend to fade as time passes by. The stories stop getting told and the next generation never learns about an interesting figure. Eddie Aikau, the once famous Hawaiian lifeguard, is getting another chance to shine thanks to the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.
In Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau, viewers will get a chance to take a closer look at a man who was renowned for riding big waves and helping save those who couldn't handle the ocean's fury. It's certainly a story that's been lost over time.
Aikau died at age 31 in 1978. He was lost at sea while on a journey with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. But the significant impact he made despite his tragic early death is a tale worth telling because it's a unique look at a niche lifestyle.
Had you heard about Aikau prior to the 30 for 30 trailer?
As a surfer, he took on some of the biggest waves in Hawaii. His days on Waimea Bay are what allowed his legend to grow. He relentlessly took on the adventures he would often find himself trying to save others from due to the immense dangers, even for experienced wave riders.
His ability to handle situations few others could led to the creation of the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in his memory. If the waves aren't big enough, with a minimum of 20-foot swells, the event doesn't happen.
It's exactly the type of tournament Aikau would have likely thrived in. When others were coming to shore, he was taking on a challenge.
That's how legends are born.
But his story didn't stop with just surfing. As the trailer alludes to, it was his apparent perfect record as a lifeguard, saving every swimmer or surfer that he was called on to save, which helped transform him into a Hawaiian hero.
It also helped his legend stretch beyond the shores of Hawaii. At least for awhile. Over time, his story has begun to lose steam as many do, which is why documentaries like the one featuring a larger-than-life figure is important.
Lifeguards are now commonplace and surfing remains a popular, albeit still niche, sport. But Aikau was somebody who transcended both titles to become a superstar. And he did it all in just 31 years, making it all the more amazing.
Luckily, the latest film in the 30 for 30 series should help bring the legend to a new generation.