In late January, the annual “Old Boys” reunion, better known as the ASP Quiksilver Masters, came to Hawaii — the place where many of these guys founded their reputations many moons ago. Even more appropriate, they held the event at Makaha, the birthplace of surfing competition.

And after a week-long tour through the Free Ride era and beyond, we witnessed the best and burliest of what these generations gave to surfing. In particular, it’s an animal-like competitive drive that still burns bright. Sure, {{{Rabbit}}} and Kong stomped the competition in their respective divisions. But that was just the top of the food chain. Everyone was hungry.

In these early rounds, Makaha was pounded by 12- to 15-foot Point surf with warriors of old racing into the “Bowl.” The only difference was, they had Jet-Ski assist. Thank God for that.

The usual suspects shined in the early rounds. From his opening heat, the two-time defending Masters Champ Gary “You Can Call Me Kong Again” Elkerton charged with reckless abandon on a 6’2″ swallow-tail and scored the event’s only perfect ride.

Of the other “Young Guns,” Barton Lynch was dominant with three heat wins. The competition in this division was so intense only Parsons and Bain could come with two heat wins to get them comfortably into the quarterfinals.

The “Old Guns”(Grand Masters 45 and Older) early going was owned by “Rabbit” Bartholomew, who never lost a heat. Defending Grand Masters Champ Mark Richards, Shaun Tomson and Bobby Owens were the only multiple heat winners and qualifiers for the finals cut.

It was a “Makaha Bowl” weekend that provided hellraising moments, heavy caught-insides, punishing wipeouts and plenty of time in the massage tent where Leland dispensed Celibrex to keep the old warriors in the water.

The “Golden Balls” award had to go to the oldest warrior Nat Young, who had first surfed here 40 years ago in the old Makaha International, for his monster take-off into the “Bowl” that just unloaded all around him, reminiscent of mini-Greg Noll ride of ’69.

Quiksilver also hosted a local adjunct to the main Masters, which gave the Hawaiian Masters a chance to show their stuff on the “Saturday Bowl” with Keone Downing(Grand Masters) and Dave Parmenter(Masters) showing their command of Makaha.

By the end of “Makaha Bowl” weekend, the field had been cut to the eight quarter-finalists in each division and Monday morning dawned with clean, 4- to 6-foot Makaha, allowing the contenders to now show their performance capabilities as they dropped down to their hot-dog boards and joined Kong on his 6’2″.