Luke Shepardson had his big break on Sunday.
The Hawaii lifeguard took home first place in one of the world’s most prestigious and stories surfing contests – The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, also nicknamed “The Eddie.” The event is considered to be the Super Bowl of surfing, and he won with a nearly perfect score of 89.1.
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“I told myself, ‘I’m in it because I can win it,'” he told Hawaii News Now after the event. “It was super scary, the waves were huge, and it was a dream come true just to be part of ‘The Eddie,’ just to be on the alternate list.”
Shepardson, of North Shore, started the day on the lifeguard tower for Honolulu Ocean Safety and was able to participate in the event thanks to an extended break allowed by his immediate boss, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I can’t believe it, it’s f—ing crazy. I’ve got to get back to the tower to make sure everyone’s OK until the end of the day,” he added.
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Shepardson and his fellow lifeguards kept busy the entire day as 64 rescues were reported during the day, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The one-day contest, held in Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore, goes forward only when the surf is consistently large enough during the winter big-wave surfing season from mid-December through March. Before this year, it had only been held nine times since the initial 1984 event.
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The competition honors legendary Native Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau for his selflessness, courage and sacrifice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.