It's been a good week. The tribe was reunited. There's been drama, a few upsets and a lot of passion.
All the legends involved are every bit as competitive, if not more, than they were 10 or 20 years ago. And while everyone is talking story and embracing on shore - it's game-on once the jersey comes into play.
Three heats ran Sunday in Azores, and each one determined a new World Masters Champ.
Grand Masters Final (Over 55): Rob Bain vs. Cheyne Horan
Today is Rob Bain's birthday and he might have just received the greatest gift of all time- the Grand Masters World Title. The Australian took on childhood friend and former skateboarding team member Cheyne Horan in the Final.
The two have known each other since they were 13 but during their heat, you wouldn't be able to tell. Neither would give each other an inch. And while Cheyne Horan managed to find some rhythm in this event he was unable to get his footing during the Final. Rob Bain was a clear standout. He earned a huge 17.10 (8.17 + 8.93) heat total, leaving Horan out the back with two 4-point rides.
On his birthday in 1989, Rob Bain won the first-ever pro surfing contest in Portugal - The Instinct/Boundi Pro against Glen Winton. Now, 28 years later, Bain just clinched a Masters Title on the same day, in the same country.
"Life is so weird right now," said Bain after his win. "I won the first pro surfing contest in Portugal on my Birthday almost 30 years ago. It was hard not to think about that today. I was with my girlfriend back then who is now my wife and the mother of my kids.
I was walking down the beach this morning and I took a moment to be by myself and take it all in. I'm actually getting pretty choked up right now. This is special. It's taken a life time of ups and downs but this is a dream come true."
Women's World Masters Final (Over 45): Layne Beachley vs. Rochelle Ballard
The 7x World Champ won the first women's Masters Title today at the inaugural Women's World Masters Championships. Beachley went up against Rochelle Ballard, the Hawaii native known for her barrel-riding. Beachley stayed busy throughout the whole heat and by the end of it she had surfed a massive eight waves.
The Australian put up the first solid score with a 6.60 and backed it up with a 6.33. The waves got more infrequent towards the second half and Ballard was getting understandably frustrated - leaving her unable to find a solid back up score.
With her husband Kirk Pengilly (former INXS band member) waiting for her on the beach, Beachley rode a wave in with a massive smile on her face.
"This event has been so satisfying," said Beachley. "I'm so grateful that it happened because as you can see we still all love to compete. We still want to prove to ourselves and each other that we have what it takes to win. I must admit though I don't miss the competitive nerves. My god. This is hard work. I don't know how I did this for 19 years."
On her second to last wave, Ballard's fin nicked one of the filmers in the water, causing her to fall on her last turn.
"That was a bummer but it's all good," said Ballard. "There's a shift in maturity that happens. When you get to our age it's just as important to enjoy the time you have here. We're not as focused on the game. The journey is important too. The experiences we've made together this week ... it's priceless."
Men's World Masters Final (Over 45): Dave Macaulay vs. Shane Beschen
This heat was a tough one and conditions got more difficult by the second. But Macaulay has been known to paddle circles around his competitors and that skill came into play during the 35 minute heat. Shane Beschen opted for the rights and unfortunately they didn't provide enough room. His highest scoring ride was a 6.33.
Dave Macaulay remained somewhat under the radar this event until he took down a poised Jake Paterson in the Quarterfinals. Macaulay is the oldest competitor in the Over-45 division and Paterson the youngest. The Australian stuck to the left-handers and it paid off - allowing him to go top to bottom for some massive scores. He won the Finals with a 14.43 (7.00 + 7.43) heat total.
"Jake Paterson, Luke Egan, Shane Beschen ... all those younger guys dominated this event," said Macaulay. "I kind of snuck into the top and it's pretty crazy. I've got a bit more empathy for competing now because I haven't done it for 10 years. My first heat I was nervous. This is what my daughter Bronte must feel all the time. Pinch me would ya! I can't believe this."
Overall, this event went deeper than competition. The camaraderie was palpable. The connections these surfers share is undeniable. In addition, Rob Bain, Layne Beachley and Dave Macaulay will all be leaving Portugal with new Masters Titles in tow.
As everyone sang Happy Birthday to Bain while he stood on the podium, he summed up the week's sentiments: "Surfing is the greatest sport in the world."