Andy Irons Rules

Gary Kewley
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Friday - December 22, 2006
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Andy Irons and his board were light as a feather after winning his fourth Pipe Masters
Andy Irons and his board were light as
a feather after winning his fourth Pipe

Happy holidays, wave riders! Were you there? Did you catch it? I’m sure you’ve read or heard about it - Kauai’s Andy Irons winning the “whole enchilada” (Bro’ Bruce Irons’ quote)! It would be enough for any human to win just one of the events of the most prestigious Vans Triple Crown, let alone win the most coveted of the three events: the Rip Curl Pipe Masters, let alone the title of Triple Crown Champ ... Let alone do both ... and accomplish this feat an unprecedented four times! Let’s be even more clear here: Nobody’s ever done it even twice, let alone four times.

There are just three who’ve won both titles once: Slater did it in ‘95, Tom Carroll in ‘91 and Derek Ho did it once in ‘86 - and that’s it! Not even six-time Triple Crown champ legend Sunny Garcia has this rare honor. To win the Pipe and the Crown in one shot is extremely distinctive. Such stats just illuminate how great our Kauai son is. It is highly unlikely that any of you reading this right now will ever see such a four feat again in your lifetime ... no matter what your age. The only way you’ll see it again is if Andy Irons does it for you with five - amazing stuff.

Oh the energy emanating from the Ehukai Arena on Thursday, Dec.

14 ... it rumbled and raged like the waves 20 meters from shore. It lifted the thousands of spectators to their feet and their roars to the sky. Everyone - surfers and non surfers alike - knew they were a part of something very special that day. And in the end, history was made, a record was broken and souls were satisfied.

It took the blessings of nature and the rare talents of two special athletes to deliver the day: Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. The competitive fire between these two is extraordinary. Each hates to lose ... and each loves to win! Let’s see the definition of these powerful words: Hate: “a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action.”

Love: “a strong positive emotion of regard; Passion.” Well, these guys know how to act with passion! They channel all their energy so intensely it allows them to do things even they didn’t know they could do.

The one that got Irons back in the game against Slater in the last 10 minutes of the Pipe Masters
The one that got Irons back in the game against Slater in
the last 10 minutes of the Pipe Masters

Did you see these guys after each unbelievable barrel? They’d raise their arms overhead and look to shore as if amazed themselves. And it was amazing - jaw-dropping wave-riding. The best were blowing their own minds!

The scores prove it. To be sure, there have been bigger waves in past years of the Pipe Masters ... and it’s always a rush to watch and ride! However, this final had two freaks in the near perfect 6- to 8-foot lineup! Men who have sharpened the cutting edge of surfing competition and hold 11 years of world titles between them - they are the two most dominant surfers of the past decade and a half. But they hold so much more. They bring out the best in each other. Again, scores proved it.

Slater had this final so in the bag that announcer and Pipe legend Liam MacNamara quipped, “Well, I’m signing off ... see you all next year.” Not one soul would’ve thought that Slater, with a 9.00 (out of 10) and an 8.83, could be beaten. He was so deep on those Back Door tubes you’d just be in shock when he’d bust out the end. Slater was on fire - doing what he does best at his best! Nobody beats him when he’s got his mojo on - nobody!

Then along comes Mr. Iron Will, who just never counts himself out. Andy captures a fat 10-foot beast and parks it inside the tube’s foam ball (deep as you can get) ... then the beast spits him out at full speed. Andy does-n’t kick out in relief, but floats up and over the meanest inside close-out sandbar; it was an explosion! He’s gone from view in the 10-foot wall of white water with the bottom about 2 feet below his board. He reappears to the thunderous decibels of an astonished crowd. He lifts his arms over his head and lays his relieved body into the calming white water ... and gets 9.87!

Not done, he streams over to Slater knowing he’s back in this game - big time! Just one wave away with a minute left in the greatest show on earth, Andy Irons played Moses himself with a scripture that spoke of victory. He muscled and hustled a wave away from Slater to go right on Back Door (Pipe’s right hand side). He free falls straight into a 6-foot tube on a vertical drop, and is inside as deep as one can be the entire way - 10 feet back on the foam ball again on a nasty, fast, thick and throaty wave! Irons just pumped and weaved perfectly inside this miracle wave, and at the wave’s end emerges with 10s across the judges’ scoreboard! You see, when even judges can’t imagine a wave being ridden any better well, that’s a 10, baby! Oh yeah, Andy Irons’ fists were hitting the heavens in elation. He did it ... he did it again! Legendary head judge Jack Shipley claimed, “It was the best final I’ve ever seen.”

In the end, the victorious Irons was also a humble warrior. Andy respectfully spoke into the mic, “I have to give credit where credit’s due ... Kelly’s amazing out there ... he helps me do what I do.” He looked at Kelly and said, “You’re an amazing surfer.” That’s Andy Irons, Hawaii’s greatest, most amazing surfer.

I’ll be writing about this one for awhile. Hey, next up: We’re in the holding period for the third annual Bank of Hawaii North Shore Tow-In Surfing Championships now to March 31, 2007! Stayed tuned for the BIG day ... it’s gotta be 20 feet and peeling on the outer reefs! Go to the SURFNEWSNETWORK website and read more!

I’ll see you here after Christmas!

GQ, Dropping in 4 U!

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