Whether it was the handful of prominent elders in the Hawaiian surfing community, the plethora of Hawaii’s hottest pro surfers, or the pods of whales and dolphins frolicking on the horizon, the first weekend of the Buffalo Big Board Classic at Makaha, March third and fourth, was good fun for all in attendance. Hundreds of people from the mainland, Tahiti, Japan and Hawaii came out to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of this Westside tradition in shoulder high surf and sunny skies. Originally sponsored by Don “Tiny Bubbles” Ho in 1977, this event, created by legendary waterman Buffalo Keaulana, has become a yearly ritual for many local families to gather at Makaha. In fact, not even a shark sighting during the Open Men’s longboard heat could deter the clans from having a ball.
Although the shark interrupted the action for 20 minutes, that was the only break from wave riding during the whole weekend. Unlike conventional surf comps where the highest scoring rides are given to the surfer who completes high performance maneuvers and stays close to the pocket, contestants in Buff’s Big Board Classic instead are judged based upon a list of 14 tricks and length of ride. The list of tricks grows every year and were all founded upon the style of Buffalo Keaulana. Big Board maneuvers like “Switch Stance Turn” and “Cheater Five” are also found in competitive longboarding. But, maneuvers like the “Dead Cockaroach” and the “King’s Stance” are unique to this recreational contest.
Buff’s Big Board Classic also features boards that you wouldn’t find in a regular surf contest. For example, the Open Men and Women’s longboard divisions require a surfboard measuring at least ten feet. If you think that’s too big than you ain’t seen nothing yet, brah. The Beach Boy Division requires competitors to use 12 foot something boards and 6 foot something paddles to stand up paddle into Makaha’s peeling rights. While the Paipo Board and Bully Board Divisions resemble your everyday bodyboard, except for the fact that the smaller, skinnier Paipo is made out of wood. The Bullyboard resembles a sled on the back of jet skis.
The Paipos, Ten footers, and Beach Boy boards got the heat time this past weekend as the opening rounds of the Longboard, Paipo, Team Longboard and Beach Boy divisions were completed. Surfers like Brian and Rusty Keaulana, Dave Parmenter, Duane and Desiree Desoto and Kainalu Froseith were west side favorites that advanced in multiple divisions. Darkhorses like Sam George and myself snuck through to the next weekend of competition.
Keep your monitors on for the complete wrap up of the Makaha fun at the 30th Annual Buffalo Big Board Classic next weekend.