The Eddie Aikau Invitational is over. The event that never runs finally ran. The Bay called the day, and it called it with authority. It was mind-bogglingly big. It was big enough to plant a seed of doubt in the hairless head of Kelly Slater. Big enough to nearly wash the crowd away. And big enough for a North Shore lifeguard named Luke Shepardson to win over the likes of surfers like John John Florence, Billy Kemper, and Kai Lenny, just to name a few.
The Eddie is the most prestigious event in surfing. It’s not just about surfing big waves. Waimea is a religious place for native Hawaiians; a place with deep cultural significance. The ocean was and still is revered there, and the Eddie celebrates that. The Eddie celebrates the life and heroism of Eddie Aikau. If you grew up on the North Shore like Mason Ho did, the Eddie is a special thing, so when a massive northwest swell with a long period showed up on the charts, he was likely very excited.
This was, as you remember, the real starter’s gun after a false start. The false start came in the form of another huge swell, but the winds forced organizers to call it off. That swell still showed up and was still huge, but in retrospect the organizers of the Eddie made a smart call.
Mason went surfing on the Eddie’s false start swell, and he took a fin to the calf. It cut him deeply, but Mason would likely need to have his foot cut off to skip the Eddie. “There’s nothing like it,” he said. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
And he sure did make his mark, especially on one wave in particular that featured one of the wildest air drops ever seen at the Eddie.
“I was like, ‘okay, I know I’m in the air, airdropping,'” Mason said. “And then all of a sudden — the board was so magic — I was thinking, ‘holy shit, I might actually land this!’ I thought it was going to hit the water, and it didn’t hit the water. It kept going. I was like, ‘I’m riding the wind!'”