Though the topics of conversation during the 40th Annual Buffalo Big Board Classic included the pristine conditions and the types of crafts being ridden, the resounding dialogue throughout Makaha Beach was a palpable love for Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana. We sat down with a handful of iconic characters at the storied event to get their perspective on the man so revered by the surf community.
“My dad had the Duke, and I had Uncle Buff,” said Bonga Perkins. “I can only read stories about the Duke and hear stories from Rabbit and the Waikiki Beach Boys from where I grew up initially. With Buff, I got to live and breathe and grow up with his kids. He made sure that we were taken cared of. Just like Duke, Buff is an ambassador. He went all over the world, shared with kids all over the world and that’s my modern day Duke and a huge influence on my life. I used to sleep over at their house, on the beach he’d feed me. Not too many people can say that.”
“He’s a mentor, someone you can go to if you have a problem and talk about it,” said Mark Cunningham. “He’s always been that guy I could sit down and talk to.”
“Uncle Buff, he’s one of the most influential people of the world as far as ocean culture,” said Duane DeSoto.
Brian Keaulana, one of Buffalo’s sons, had countless stories to offer when discussing his 81-year-old father. “My dad would feed not just us but the whole beach,” he said. “There wasn’t one person he wouldn’t offer food to, tourists, people off the street. I remember being his bag boy and jumping in and he would catch fish like crazy. I remember as a kid my father would throw us in the rip and swim with us and say ‘look never swim against it, swim with it. Look down the beach and swim down and out utilize the speed of the current to get in faster, like a merry go round’.”
Brian continued: “Another time, the shorebreak on the beach came up and grabbed this infant baby, whisked him into the undertow because Makaha can get as big as Waimea,” said Brian. “The mom screamed, and my dad jumped into the water and searched, but the visibility wasn’t clear. He found the baby, and came flying up with him in his hands. The baby was screaming, but the screaming was a joyous feeling of wow, you were so just packed full of emotions. What was heavy about the whole story is that years later the boy was 20 years old, maybe older and he came down beach and told my dad he was the baby he grabbed. There’s a thousand stories my father has like that.”