Bruce Irons does it his way - and wins

Gary Kewley
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Friday - August 08, 2008
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Rip Curl Pro Search champ Bruce Irons shows his winning form
Rip Curl Pro Search champ Bruce Irons shows his winning form

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! First Wave: Here we go! It’s the last month of summer. Sure as the long-range forecast, the surf has yet to match up to June and July’s record high standards. You may be thinking, how can that be? There have been no giant swells as in years past. That’s correct. What I’m referring to is the number of days we’ve had 4- and 5-footers local scale, not the freak swells. Most wave warriors prefer this “moderate plus” stuff. The thing is consistency. What would you rather ride - five 3- to 4-foot swells per month or one 6- to 8-foot swell? I mean, that’s what the North Shore is all about, not town. I’ll take consistency - it adds up to pure stoke!

Second Wave: What do you get when you take the pressure off top surfers in the Fosters World Champ Tour? You get a winner. Just look at Bruce Irons - he’s been banging away at the tour’s top talents for years with not one victory. This fact is stunning. Then, just as he announces his retirement after this year, he wins the Rip Curl Pro Search “somewhere in Indonesia,” beating North Shore ripper Freddy Patacchia. Irons is now sitting pretty at No. 10.

The strange thing is, Bruce has been regarded as one of the best surfers on the planet for nearly a decade. Like his bro Andy, many thought a world title was guaranteed. Bruce is regarded as the best backside tube rider (along with Kelly Slater). He’s won the Pipe more than once by sheer gift and the “most popular” vote numerous times by his total package. The guy can do all the airs - and higher than most. His style is flawless and powerful, yet radical. The better the waves, the better he gets.

Bruce is just his own man calling his own shots, in and out of the lineup. What you see is what you get. Surf hard ... party hard. I think this is why he’s one of the world’s most-popular, well-known (and well-paid) surfers on tour ... or anywhere.

Indeed, Bruce has the choice.We love that. It’s the American Dream. Bruce did it his way. Surfing is about the surfer, not just his or her surfing ability. We love characters with talent. The Tour already is missing Bruce, and don’t be surprised if he’s got one more win in the bag. Oh, and not to worry, he’ll be surfing the Pipe Masters, Teahupoo and other perfect, hollow left-break contests for years to come.

Bruce Irons lifting the victory trophy
Bruce Irons lifting the victory trophy

Kelly Slater used up his last “throw away” (they get two this year) in the event Bruce won; it was his second 17th finish. Thing is ... all his other events are first place. His nearest rivals all went down fairly early as well, so he’s still more than 1,000 points ahead of No. 2 Joel Parkinson. Now, Kelly isn’t retiring as yet, but he’s more relaxed than he’s ever been. He has retired some sort of weight on his psyche, for “something special is happening.” The best-ever is besting himself, again. Neither he nor anyone ever started out with this winning streak. It’s like he’s playing on a new, rarified field. How does he stay in his essence (winning) so well and so long? I think he’s let go of all the other peripheral stuff and is living in a pure state. Something most mere humans can only admire from afar.

Next stop is No. 6 out of 11 at the Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles in SoCal Sept 7-13. Then it’s off to France Sept 19 and Spain Sept. 29. They then head down to Brazil Oct. 28 before coming here to the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters Dec. 8.

Third Wave: You may have only today to get in the Regal Dole Cannery Theaters to see Bustin’ Down the Door. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton, this surf movie/documentary is about the Australian/South African/North Shore invasion - especially around the early to mid-1970s. The core crew were world champs Peter Townsend, Shawn Thompson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Gotcha’s Michael Thompson and a few others.

These gutsy, talented men strove to become the first legitimate, full-time professional surfers with a world tour format. In order to do this, they knew they had to prove themselves in Hawaii. They were willing to risk it all for this goal. It’s a powerful story about the power of dreams, surfing and aloha. It’s also a story about conflict and culture, ego and pride and, in the end, forgiveness, humility and victory.

Even today there’s disagreement with how it all went down. But regardless, it’s a must-see movie. “A breakout film. Bustin’ Down the Door shows what happens when ego and historical problems clash during the most critical period in our sports history.” - Kelly Slater, eight-time world surfing champion.

See you back here next week with my interview with Da Hui He’e Nalu founder Eddie Rothman. He has a few things to say as well.

GQ ... dropping In 4 U!


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