A grand time by all at Buffalo's Classic
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Keaulana grandchildren are all grown up.
They proved it yesterday at the 34th annual Buffalo's Big Board Surfing Classic.
The final day of the five-day contest was run yesterday in wave-face heights of 6 to 12 feet at Mākaha Beach.
The contest is the brainchild of Richard "Buffalo" Keaulana — a former surfing champion and lifeguard at Mākaha. He started it in 1977 as a way to unite the Leeward O'ahu community, and it has been run by his family every year since.
"Every year we try to do something different," said Keaulana, 75. "But my surf meet is made for fun. That part not going change."
Keoni Keaulana, Brandon Martin and Noland Martin — three of Buffalo's grandchildren — were not even born when the contest was created. But they came of age yesterday by appearing in several of the final heats.
Keoni, for example, qualified for five finals, and won three.
"Every event in this competition is hard," said Keoni, 26. "You have to be good just to make it to one of the finals. I've been trying for years, so it feels good to finally get to this level."
For years, Buffalo Keaulana's own children — especially sons Brian, Rusty and Jimmy — dominated the competition at the family contest. This year, the next generation prevailed.
"I think my uncle them starting to give us chance," Keoni said with a laugh. "They getting old."
In truth, the elder Keaulanas serve as competitive mentors.
"It was always a challenge to be like my uncles," Keoni said. "I never thought I would ever beat them in anything."
Brandon Martin, who is Keoni's brother, experienced a victory yesterday for the first time. He won the open men surfing division, which is probably the most competitive division of the entire contest.
"This means the world to me," Brandon said. "My uncles, they're like world champions ... this is the first time I beat them, first time I ever won anything at this contest."
Buffalo Keaulana said he was not surprised at the success of his grandchildren.
"Over the years, I taught my kids how to surf and sail and fish and paddle," he said. "And then they teach their kids the same thing. I like to just sit back and let them show me what they can do."
Most of all, the contest is about two weekends of fun and games for some of the state's best watermen. The contest is unique in that it offers various forms of wave-riding, such as canoe surfing, traditional alaia boarding, paipo boarding and tandem surfing.
"This is a family get-together, and not just our family," Keoni said. "It's for families from all over. You come down to Mākaha for this contest and it turns into one big 'ohana."
There is also good will. Dozens of surfboards are awarded as prizes, and the surfers who are already sponsored often give away boards to those in need.
Brian Keaulana, Buffalo's oldest son, put one of his new boards up for bid and said he will donate the money — $800 — to Wai'anae High School.
Canoe surfing: 1, Bad Blood (Keoni Keaulana). 2, Team Bud Light (Jody Ragsdale). 3, Smooth Criminals (Nalu Froiseth). 4, Leeward Kai (Ryan Van Gieson). Team stand-up paddle: 1, Keoni Keaulana/Brandon Martin. 2, Russ Keaulana/Dino Miranda. 3, Kaleo Kealohe/Greg Pavao. 4, Brian Keaulana/Craig Davidson. Open men surfing: 1, Brandon Martin. 2, Kamu Auwae. 3, Russ Keaulana. 4, Keoni Keaulana. 5, Kekoa Auwae. 6, Nalu Froiseth. Primo Bombucha (over 250 pounds): 1, Bruce DeSoto. 2, Kimo Leong. 3, Manny DeSoto. 4, Ikaika Van Gieson. 5, Travis Palmer. 6, Eddie Maldonado. Paipo board: 1, Kalani Kahaleoumi. 2, Bula Yiu Lin. 3, Denver Laurita. 4, Bunky Bakutis. 5, Eddie Maldonado. 6, Jonathan Powell. Legends: 1, Bruce DeSoto. 2, Tom Collins. 3, Ants Guerrero. 4, Bunky Bakutis. 5, Terry Hoffman. 6, Joe Romero. Bullyboard: 1, Jonathan Powell. 2, Kimo Leong. 3, Denver Laurita. 4, Kalani Kahaleoumi. 5, Ikaika Van Gieson. 6, Mel Keawe. Tandem bullyboard: 1, Keoni Keaulana/Mio Keaulana. 2, Bobby Fernandez/Visha Bungo. 3, Brian Keaulana/Kathy Terada. 4, Rusty Keaulana/Melissa. Tandem surfing: 1, Brian Keaulana/Kathy Terada. 2, Jason Patterson/Kelly Roberts. 3, Rico Leroy/Marie. 4, Chuck Inman/Tiffany Rabacal. 5, Duane DeSoto/Laura. Team bodysurfing: 1, Hop Tong Smith/Damo. 2, Noland Martin/Brandon Martin. 3, Craig Davidson/Brian Keaulana. 4, Mel Keawe/Eli Smith. Alaia board: 1, Sheldon Paishon. 2, Noland Martin. 3, Aaron Ungerleider. 4, Jackson Kyne. 5, Brandon Martin. 6, Maile Enos-Branigan. Open women surfing: 1, Desire DeSoto. 2, Maile Enos-Branigan. 3, Moanakea Uemura. 4, Visha Bungo. 5, Claudia Parmenter. 6, Pake Salmon. Team bodyboard: 1, Craig Davidson/Moanakea Uemura. 2, Keoni Keaulana/Mio Keaulana. 3, Bobby Fernandez/Visha Bungo. 4, Kamu Auwae/Kumi. Foreign division: 1, Hosoii. 2, Rico Leroy. 3, Yuji Hata. 4, Yutaro Watanabe. 5, Sakai. 6, Daiji Mori.