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A true waterman has an innate connection with mother ocean, knowing her many moods and faces. Despite the ever changing conditions that the sea presents, the waterman is drawn to water like a moth to a flame. Often accomplished in many ocean going disciplines, the men and women who have earned this distinguished title are often surfers, sailors, divers, and craftsman.
Don Hansen is an iconic waterman, from diving for lobster dinners in the 1950’s to surfing the North Shore on self shaped equipment, Don embraced a way of living that was synonymous with the sea. In honor of our long running relationship with everything ocean we wanted to present five of our favorite waterman. Everyone has a different definition of what a waterman is, but here at Hansen’s it’s any man or woman who has dedicated their lives to pursuing their oceanic passions.
1. Eddie Aikau-
Maybe the most iconic of all waterman, Eddie Aikau is life and spirit is highly celebrated around the world, and for good reason. When Eddie was a young man his family relocated to Oahu from the island of Maui, this is where Eddie would hoen his skills as an elite waterman. Aikau was an accomplished surfer and was such a skilled waterman that he was eventually hired as the North Shore’s first ever lifeguard, primarily stationed at Waimea Bay, where he is credited with over 500 rescues; not a single person was lost while he was served as a lifeguard at Waimea. In 1978 while attempting to sail from Hawaii to the Tahitian Islands as part of a trip with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the vessel Eddie and his team were on capsized leaving them stranded without a radio or any foreseeable chance of rescue. Eddie unwilling to let his crew succumb to the depths of the turbulent sea, attempted to paddle for help. While his crew would eventually be rescued by a passing Coast Guard ship, Eddie Aikau would never be seen again.
Eddie’s legacy lives on today, and he is memorialized with the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational held at Eddie’s home break of Waimea Bay. Aikau’s story was also recently featured in an ESPN 30 for 30 and has made its way into numerous publications. Aikau humility and bravery is unrivalled in the surf world, and he will always be our most cherished waterman.
2. Mike Doyle-
Surfer, character and waterman, Hansen Surfboards has a long and storied history with the man they call Malibu Mike. Doyle was considered one of the best all around surfers of the 1960’s as he could look cool under any conditions. Mike was also an accomplished paddleboard racer and a champion tandem surfer. In 1967 Hansen Surfboards released the Mike Doyle signature model surfboard. Don and Mike had some mischievous times in the 1960’s and if you are ever in the shop ask Don about Doyle and his glory days. Mike now lives in Mexico where he surfs, paints, and shares the stoke with those looking to ride waves.
3. Mark Healey-
Healy the hellman is today’s most visible waterman. Whether he is surfing maxing Jaws or swimming with sharks, Mark is always testing his limits in the ocean. Healey was raised on Oahu’s North Shore, which might help explain his lack of fear in the face of powerful waves. When Healey isn’t surfing he can be found spearfishing and freediving, his social media presence is both beautiful and terrifying as it shows him swimming cage free with large sharks, spearfing giant fish, and surfing 30 foot plus waves. Not many surfers from the new school harness the all around water skills that Healy does, and because of this Mark is one of the only younger surfers to often get labeled as a true waterman.
5. Liz Clark-
There are many women who deserve the waterman label, but Liz Clark’s dedication to a life at sea has earned her a top spot among some of surfing’s greatest waterman. Surfer, sailor, environmentalist and all around epic human, Clark, has been living aboard her sailboat Swell since 2006. She has sailed down the West Coast of Mexico and Central America and then on to the South Pacific where she continues to live aboard her humble sailboat and enjoy her life on the sea. Liz is a dedicated environmentalist and has dedicated her life to ocean conservation. Clark continues her journey and chronicles her travels and work on both her website and amazing social media accounts.
4. Duke Kahanamoku-
There is not a more historically relevant waterman than Duke Kahanamoku. The full blooded Hawaiian was born in Honolulu and would become the most celebrated waterman of the early 1900’s. Duke was a multidisciplinary water expert who won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1912 games. Kahanamoku, who excelled at surfing, paddling, sailing, body surfing, swimming and anything else water related is largely credited with being the father of modern surfing. Throughout the early 1900’s Duke traveled the country putting on surfing expositions, that would essentially revitalize surfing and spawn modern surfing culture. While Kahanamoku was an Olympian and enjoyed some slice of celebrity, he was above all else a humble and brave waterman, in 1925 Duke saved 8 fisherman from drowning in heavy seas at Newport Beach. Duke Kahanamoku would go on to spend his later years surfing, sailing and paddling in Waikiki.