Schedule : Waiting for the call
By the mid-'70s, Eddie's passion for big wave riding was not his only driving force. The Hawaiian cultural renaissance was in full swing and Aikau was feeling the pull to dig deeper into the roots of his Hawaiian heritage. Following his win of the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational at Sunset Beach in the winter of 1977, his focus shifted to the Hokule'a.
A traditional double-hull voyaging canoe that was the symbol of Hawaiian pride, the Hokule'a represented the cultural connection that Hawaiians were seeking at the time. Eddie was selected to be part of the crew who would sail Hokule'a by traditional celestial navigation from Hawaii to Tahiti in March of 1978. It was to be a 30-day, 2,500 mile voyage across the Pacific, following the ancient route of Polynesian migration.
The Hokule'a set sail on the stormy afternoon of March 16, 1978, in strong winds that were whipping up heavy seas. Not far into the journey, Hokule'a developed a leak in one of her hulls, later capsizing during the night in the Moloka'i Channel. After weathering the night, and with the physical state of crewmembers deteriorating, Aikau insisted upon paddling for the Hawaiian island of Lana'i, estimated to be some 19 miles away. It would be the final rescue attempt of his life. While the crew aboard Hokule'a were later spotted by a passing plane and rescued, Aikau was never seen again. He was two months shy of his 32nd birthday.