Honolulu lifeguard Luke Shepardson wins ‘The Eddie’ contest

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Luke Shephardson is elevated after winning the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

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

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM Pedestrians and motorists throng the Kamehameha Highway early today for the 2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in Waimea Bay.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

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

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

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

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

Thousands of people watched from the beach on the north coast and nearby heights.

To run the contest, the waves at Waimea Bay must consistently be equivalent to about 40 feet (about 20 feet Hawaiian style) with the right wind conditions. It was the 10th time “The Eddie” – named after legendary Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard Eddie Aikau – has stood in its 38-year run.

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

A total of 40 athletes have been invited, as well as alternates. They surfed in two runs of five runs each, with each competitor riding a maximum of four waves in each run. The best three of the eight possible routes count for their score.

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

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

The first contest honoring 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 Tournament Director.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included Luke Shepardson’s incorrect score.

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